Like most families, the Whittaker family kept a pretty fast pace with three active children. Several years ago, an experience caused them to press the pause button.
“We were in the car with our three children when Beyonce’s Single Ladies came on the radio,” said Carlos Whittaker, author of Moment Maker. “Our children started singing it and I started videoing the moment. When I realized our son was singing it, I told him, ‘You aren’t a single lady,’ at which point he bursts into tears. I apologized. I sent it to my mom because I thought it was cute and posted it on Facebook.”
Unexpectedly, the video went viral, getting millions of views. The family appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and also received the People’s Choice Viral Video of the Year award.
When things calmed down a bit, Whittaker asked his wife why she thought the video was so popular. She said, “It is because you were authentic and showed a mistake. Most parents who make their kid cry would not post it on Facebook for the world to see.”
That was the catalyst for change in the Whittaker household.
“That conversation with my wife made me realize you can live your life or your life can live you,” Whittaker said. “These two statements sound similar, but they are oceans apart.
“Not too long ago, the average pace a human traveled was between three and 15 mph. Now we have rocket ships. Maybe we weren’t created to move this fast. Most of us are living life so fast we forget that what is happening right this second is important. I came to the conclusion that, instead of going with the flow, we would make the flow go with us. Instead of rushing through everything, I started trying to pause to perceive.”
Whittaker’s book, Moment Maker, is about making the most of life’s moments. The book identifies three types of moments: created, received and rescued. None of them have to be expensive or epic, just purposeful.
“A couple of years ago I created a moment with my daughter when I took her on a daddy/daughter date to Starbucks,” Whittaker said. “On the cup where they usually write your name and the type of drink you ordered, I had her write three words that described my daughter. When we sat down my daughter noticed the words and asked me what they meant, at which point I shared with her about the words. She still talks about that coffee date. ”
Received moments are those moments where pausing is the secret.
“We took our daughters to see Justin Bieber,” Whittaker said. “Right before he came onstage, one of our daughters was weeping. I looked to my wife to decipher what was going on. She said everything was fine.
"Driving home from the concert, I asked my daughter why she had been crying. She said, ‘Because I love him so much.’ My first inclination was to look at her and say, ‘You don’t love him; you don’t know the first thing about love.’ But I paused for a moment and then I said, ‘The tears that stream down your face because you love Justin Bieber…I want to tell you how the tears stream down my face when I see you at your best because I love you so much.’ The conversation shifted from why her love was right instead of why it was wrong.”
Rescued moments are the moments in which life happens. In order to rescue, one must open heart and hands. Without risk there is no rescue.
Whittaker shared about sitting next to a guy on a flight to Atlanta. Despite Whittaker’s attempts at friendly conversation, the man had nothing to say. Whittaker assumed he was just rude.
Shortly before landing, the pilot informed passengers that winds were blowing at 40 mph. In order to land they needed to be below 40 mph, but he said he was going to give it a shot. At that moment, Whittaker saw that the man was gripping the seat in front of him, tears were streaming down his face and he was shaking.
“I realized the man was not rude. He was scared. I fought it for about five minutes, but then I made the decision to stick my hand out barely open. Within a second, he was gripping my hand,” Whittaker said. “We landed and he was still holding my hand. We taxied to the gate and he was still holding my hand. When we got to the gate I let go. Without saying a word, he got up and exited the plane.”
How can we intentionally leave a legacy if we are moving so fast we miss the moments? We each write a story as we walk through our lives. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or be super-creative. The smallest of things can make a huge difference in the moment for you and your family.
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