Thursday, February 20, 2014

Slow Down

It’s really easy for me to slow down and “live in the moment” when we leave home.  When we get out of our daily routines and visit someplace new or if our plan is to just be somewhere for the day, like the zoo or a park, I can let everything go and enjoy myself.  I can enjoy every miniscule act of wonder or insanity undertaken by my boys, storing up memory-snapshots at a healthy pace.  We don’t rush.  These are my best moments as a parent, the times when I feel like I’m totally connecting with my children and nurturing their spirits.


Do you ever see those parents at the zoo or a children’s museum who herd their children along to the next thing, without giving the kids time to really experience what catches their eye?  “C’mon, buddy, let’s go look at the train set.  And then after that, we’ll do the fishing game!  Let’s go!”  I don’t ever want to be that parent.  I want to always be the parent who lets my children spend their entire day at the museum playing in the grocery store section (as Jamie did last weekend, completely content to put toy food in toy carts, run it through the toy checkout, and then put it back on the toy shelves and start over for 20 minutes or more).  If my kids want to spend their day at the aquarium looking only at the sharks, so be it.  I enjoy their engrossment into an activity, and I know they get more out of the whole experience when they get to really dig into what they love.


But the daily routine turns me into a pressed-for-time harpy from the moment I get up in the morning until the moment I drop my children at school.  I never thought, back when both of the boys were waking at 6 AM or earlier, that there would come a time when I would wish they would get their cute little boy butts out of bed earlier than they do, but that’s what I wish lately.  Because now they’re content to sleep until 8 AM (except for the fact that every night/morning around 4:30 AM, Jamie crawls into bed with me and begs me to make him breakfast right then), which is far too late to get through the shower (which Charles insists upon doing), get dressed, eat breakfast, get teeth brushed, and get to school.  So I wake them at 7 and spend the next hour and a half cajoling and bribing and threatening and yelling at them to do this or that task.  My heart rate climbs and I get frustrated and I forget to notice the smears of jam on Jamie’s face as the adorable manifestations of his perfect two-and-a-half-year-old-ness.  In fact, and this makes my heart hurt, he often eats breakfast alone while I am in the shower.  I hate that my children would eat any meal alone.


It’s not always better in the afternoons, though I try to take the car ride between preschool and the bank or swim lessons or boot camp to really listen to them tell me about their days.  But then there are things to be done, tasks to complete, and before I know it, it’s bedtime and we start the “get back in bed RIGHT NOW!” merry-go-round.


So, baby steps.  Small goals.  Whatever you want to call it.  I’m going to try to do some deep breathing every time I find myself getting worked up over time.  I want the daily drudgery of this afternoon and tomorrow to feel as good as those carefree weekend trips away from the house.  Yes, I have to get to work and swim lessons and appointments on time.  But maybe I can do it with a bit less crazy in my eyes when I get my children dressed and fed.  And maybe I can orchestrate things so that Jamie, my slow eater, isn’t eating alone at breakfast.

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