“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” — John De Paola
In many ways, life is anything but slow.
From the moment I wake to the moment I slide under the beige duvet of my bed, I am going. We have no need for a rooster or an alarm clock around here. At daybreak, there is a baby longing to be nursed, children asking to be fed, a 5-year-old peering through our door: “Goooodmorrrrning!”
If I am lucky, I wake before the roosters (and am trying to get better at that!) — but still more often than not, their sweet crows are my calling to greet the day.
I amble into the kitchen — a nursed and changed baby against me. The cat and dog see me — meow, woof, woof woof, feed me, let me out, water my bowl! Matt gets the girls ready and takes the panting lab out — and then the assembly line begins: smearing peanut butter on toast, slicing fruit, filling drinks, herding little ones to sit and wait patiently.
With Pavlovian anticipation, the sound of dripping coffee gives rest to my soul — and then, more blueberries for you. Yes, I’ll refill your drink. Here, let me wipe your mouth.
And so it goes: a daily dance. A beautiful, sometimes exhausting, choreography. To the left, and twirrrl — sometimes one step forward, two steps back.
But these partners of mine, these glorious dance partners. The oldest of which is quite handsome and a partner I will cherish for life. The best decision I ever made (or perhaps it is better stated: the best gift I ever received) — my husband — who, as the strongest dance partners do, always keeps me balanced and on my toes.
And the other ones, the little ones, they bring this stage alive with never a dull moment. No matter the bumps or quarrels — the show must go on, it does go on.
But if welcoming this fourth little one into our lives has taught me anything, it’s this: there is nothing more I really need to do than this right here. This dance. Than the daily loving and feeding of mouths and souls. The hugs and kisses and playing and listening.
A part of me sometimes thinks that I’m missing out — or that they’re missing out — from being home so much. Should I put them in more activities? Should I be personally involved in more things? I am the organizing and social type, I love to plan and invite and join committees. Should we be doing more?
I am reminded of the answer on those weeks when I dip my toes in the rapids and plan a few too many things — those weeks are always associated with more tantrums (from me and the kids alike.) I have learned quickly that there is such peace in slowing down — being home — trading the rapids for calmer waters. Those things that I have chased by go, go, going too often lead to stress, whereas, as De Paola said above, when I slow down, sink my feet in, settle in the moment, all those things: joy, peace, a sense of accomplishment, purpose, connection, whatever: they catch up to me.
They are right here.
But even being at home, I have to set my pace. There is so much to do to keep us moving forward, faster, around the homestead. But I do like these words by writer Shawn Ledington Fink:
You can happily and fondly ignore all those crafts, art projects and DIY projects on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook and they will be just fine.
You can decline buying the best of everything from those blogs you read.
It’s perfectly fine to stick to the basics, the simple — the s.l.o.w. — even just for today or this week or this month.
And, it’s also wonderfully OK to do those things and do them imperfectly.
Life will resume as normal when you wake up tomorrow without the latest gadgets. Things. Stuff. Projects. Busyness.
None of it is the solution to what you are seeking.
It’s enough to just sit and admire the trees and walk under the clouds, isn’t it?
It’s enough to wake up and notice how the sun sits in the sky?
It’s enough to lay in bed late and read a book and maybe not even read the words but imagine the story and even predict our own unique endings.
It’s enough to just talk and laugh and be silly together.
It’s enough to roam and explore and wonder and search and dream and wish and hope.
Being together is enough.
And they will be fine. Just fine.
I think, maybe even more than fine. These slower days (though still full-on) provide a sense of balance. Quality over quantity. I am currently reading the book French Kids Eat Everything and found a parallel to this idea in how the author’s French mother-in-law approaches dessert:
“A little portion is all I need. Otherwise, I won’t enjoy it as much.”
And it’s true. Doing less, in many ways, can be all the more fulfilling.
This has been the biggest adjustment for me from single, working woman to a stay-at-home mother of four: slowing down. Tapping the breaks. Realizing that I can’t do everything and that’s OK.
Because instead of giving a part of me to a great many things, I can strive to give the best of me to the greatest of things.