On attentiveness


I have reached the point where I would literally rather throw 15 swiss francs in the trash, than field one more email about a miniscule item on my For Sale list. For a few days, it felt exciting to receive so much interest in my stuff. Yahoo, they want my stuff! Now that I have traded no less than twenty emails with one woman regarding a 5 franc power cord, I feel prepared to set it all out on the corner with a hand scrawled sign, declaring everything FREE.

Come, take my things, but please do not ask me to take one more photo or give one more detail or meet you thirty minutes away to the tune of a 16 franc train ticket. It’s not worth it just to sell an electric toothbrush. Really, it’s not.

Next week is our last week of school and our final week in our Swiss Haus. I’m elated. Exhausted. Teary. Joyful. Despondent. Excited. It feels like PMS all. the. time., fueled by a lack of sleep and copious amounts of caffeine. It’s getting crazy up in here, people. As far as my children are concerned, I never know what I’ll wake up to in the morning. Some mornings they greet me with a smile, and other days it feels as if wild animals have had their way with me.

As I walked to the train station today, I rushed down the path, skipping steps, with eyes glued to the new emails streaming into my phone. I missed out on the fragrant beauty of the flowers lining the path. I looked up and I had already reached the end of my walk. Two of my children graduate this year, from fifth and eighth grade, and I so want to remain attentive to these last moments, to these childhood journeys reaching completion. Instead, I find myself mentally flipping through endless lists of moving to-do’s, and who’s buying what and when. Hence, the crazy.

On the night I graduated from eighth grade, I wore a pale pink sleeveless dress with a ruffled skirt. I saw an older boy I hadn’t seen in two years and, feeling confident on account of my very grown-up dress, I chatted to him all evening. His dad presented me with the Charles J. Coyle Valedictorian Award that evening, and when I returned home, I placed the Coyle Award on my bedroom shelf to remember my accomplishment. I remained attentive that night, to the soft brush of my ruffled pink dress, to the Coyle name stamped into my hard-earned award, to the boy who would eventually give me that same name seven years later. I want to remember my children and their accomplishments in the same way, to reap the wonderful harvest we have sown into this country and these not-so-little people. I fear the reaping and gathering is lost when life becomes so busy.

So, I am here. I am taking a deep breath and willing myself to attend to the harvest, attend to the small–the way her hair falls across her shoulders and his brown eyes fill with anticipation and delight. Attend and reap.


Are you looking forward to reaping something in the long, lazy days of summer? What will you attend to?


  • I want to better attend (i.e. listen with my face) to my sweet three year-old when she’s telling me stories, asking questions, or just endlessly chattering. I’ve tried giving her better eye contact lately and it’s amazing to see how her face lights up when I do.

    I hear you on selling stuff. The plan was to have a garage sale this week. It is no longer the plan. 🙂

    • KimberlyCoyle

      I think I need to do more “listening with my face” too:)

      • Mark Allman

        And with our hearts for they know if we really are engaged with them. Us listening to someone deeply is a sanctuary for them.