Let’s waste time
Around our heads
To remind me
To find my own
~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars
Sometimes I feel like I’m always trying to get through life in the fast lane. I know I need to take the time to enjoy each moment with my children because days, months, years, are flying by. I’ll blink and they will be graduating from high school, getting married, having children of their own. And yet I always feel like I’m saying hurry up.A few months ago, I heard a little voice in my head. It warned me:Mommy, slow down.
I was in the midst of marathon training. I had a scheduled 4 mile run that day and needed to do it at race pace. I had the twins with me and Max was in a particularly cranky mood. He kept throwing his blanket out of the stroller, picking on his sister, whining about everything. I had to hurry. I needed to finish this run in 36 minutes. Every time I had to stop for his flying blue blanket, I’d pause my garmin and tell him to stop being so naughty. Threatening to put him in time out.
Mommy, slow down.
The sixth time I picked up the blanket and handed it back to him, I had a moment where I realized: nothing, is more important than my children’s happiness. Certainly not a training run. So I stopped my watch and pulled the stroller over to a shaded tree. I sat with them and we looked for birds and pretty flowers. He calmed down and was happy again. My boy just wanted my attention. So the rest of the run home we talked about the things we saw during the run: the birds, the clouds, the doggies on leashes….all three of us were happy. Even with a slower run time. Before I know it, Madeline and Max will be off to Kindergarten. Not giving me a backward glance as I whisper: Babies, please, please, slow down.
Just the other day, it happened again: Hurry! We’re going to be late! Where are your shoes? Why did you take them off again?! We just got them on! I paused. I took a deep breath and heard that voice whisper to my heart:
Mommy, slow down.
So I sat down to look at chubby little two year old feet. Madeline wanted to admire her sparkly, painted toe nails one last time before we left for our friend’s house that morning. Looking at her pretty toes was important to her. We sat for a few extra minutes, talked about the color purple and how it matched her dress. I’m going to blink and Madeline is going to be old enough to go out on a date. Before I know it, she’ll be painting her nails and walking down the aisle at her wedding. I’ll beg her, Madeline, my Sweet Girl, slow down.
Max is a mama’s boy and every once in a while he takes steps to become independent. One of his favorite things to do is to brush his own teeth. He always, always makes a huge mess with the toothpaste while I grumble in a mean mommy voice: I told you to let me do it! I told you it would make a mess, you always do! I cringe whenever my voice gets that way. It’s not one I’m proud of using. I apologize to him, because inevitably, he’s in tears, crushed by my tone and lack of faith in his tooth-paste-squeezing ability. One day after particulary big tooth paste explosion (it somehow splattered on the counter, the mirror, my jeans, everywhere but his green, Santa-singing toothbrush), I snapped. He cried. I apologized. I held him gently against me as I sang Jesus Loves Me. He quieted down and then started crying his little eyes out, overwhelmed by emotions.
And I heard that voice again:
Mommy, slow down.
So what if he makes a mess. It’s just toothpaste. It’s clear and can be cleaned up easily. But it’s much more difficult to fix a broken heart. I was tired of breaking my Boy’s heart. He tries so hard to be a big boy and the fact that he wants to try to brush his own teeth should be celebrated. Who cares if I have to take extra time to allow him to take steps towards indepedence. He now smiles up at me with his big Max grin, so proud of himself for putting the toothpaste on his brush while I cheer him on with an encouraging, Great job, Little Man! And together, we clean up the mess. Before I know it, he’ll be 18 and driving away from me. I’ll plead, Max, my Boy, slow down.
With a heavy heart I have to admit to myself: I have not been a patient mother. Why am I always rushing them through life? Hurrying them, as if I have somewhere more important to be? Something more important to do? The truth is, nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important to me than my three children.
Never Give Up,
(Originally published on my personal blog on March 9, 2012. Not only are the twins in first grade, we added another little one to our family who is now 3 years old. Slow down, mamas.)