Friday, March 30, 2007

The tortoise and the hare

Early this afternoon, after having lunch with two girlfriends and our three toddlers, we left the restaurant and allowed our kids to walk by our sides out to the cars... As long as they held our hands, of course. The kids (two girls and a boy) decided it was not enough to hold our hands but also needed to hold on to each other. So there we were, three adults and three toddlers, all holding hands in a row as we walked from the restaurant to the parking lot. In our eyes it was a very sweet moment. Such a cute picture we must have made. Up until just a few months ago parallel play was all we got out of our children, this type of interactivity was taking our relationships to a whole other level. It was the type of moment you want to freeze in time. I wanted to anyway.

As anyone with a toddler - or who once had toddlers - knows, kids at this age take their time. The only need to hurry is if the spirit moves them. To say we were taking our time on this day would be like saying Bill Gates is living a comfortable life. Turtles move faster than we were. As we crossed the road to the parking lot we held up a 20-something man in his car from moving around us with our lollygagging. As soon as there was enough room he made a large arch with his car and zoomed around us, but not before he shot me a withering look that only a 25 year old male in a hurry can.

How dare we make him wait?

The Mama Bear in me was not pleased. Not only could one of the kids have picked that very moment to rip his or her hand away and run back towards the restaurant, possibly getting hit by the car, but, Dude, I'm really sorry we held up your day by like 15 seconds. I apologize for inconveniencing you.

No, I'm not sorry at all. Slow down, asshole, you could hurt someone just because you needed your Starbucks fix.

After Speedy Gonzales passed us by one of my girlfriends commented on people never stopping to smell the roses anymore since they're all in a hurry. I thought about that statement on the way home. It's not a new phenomenon. People are always in a hurry. In fact, I was once that person; always rushing off somewhere, impatient with everyone who impeded my progress. But motherhood has forced me to find a patience I never thought I had. For the first time in years I am being forced, sometimes against my will if we're being honest, to stop and enjoy the little things.

Yes, as parents we sometimes have little choice in this matter. Parents, especially stay at home moms and dads, have the luxury of taking everything in. Through our children's eyes we see, for the first time in years, the beauty around us. For instance, do you have any idea how fascinating mailboxes are? Or how about the wonders of fallen tree branches? And when was the last time you laid on the floor and watched a ceiling fan turn? Even if you're a working parent I bet there have been many times when obligation was calling you elsewhere but you took a few minutes to read a picture book or lay on the floor to build a block tower. We take the time because we have to. For our kids.

Now this is not to say that we are never in a hurry to get somewhere. Have you ever tried to get a toddler fed, clothed and out the door to arrive at an appointment on time? It doesn't happen. And parents are not the most observant people in the world. Most of the time we're too caught up in what our kids are doing to look past our little worlds. For instance, the restaurant we visited today is one of those kid-friendly places with lots of 50's and 60's memorabilia on the walls. I've been there a few times but with the exception of the American flag made up of red, white and blue baseballs and the carousel horse I couldn't tell you what else was on those walls. I don't know what's in fashion. Popular music is passing me by and I have no idea what some of my friends are up to. Parenthood has slowed me down so much that my life is now made up of analyzing Sesame Street episodes and finding the right pair of rain boots.

You know, so we can go outside and jump in the puddles.

There are times when I miss my old life with all it's rushing and hurrying and self-importance. But I know that someday I'll be back in the rat race again. So for now I'm going to try to enjoy the feeling of mud through my fingers and taking time to kiss boo-boos and finding just the right band-aid. My hope is that I'll come out the other side a better person for having been both the tortoise and the hare.

Because we all know who came out on top in that story, don't we?

31 comments:

Avalon said...

Oh Mrs. C~~ So eloquent and evocative. After years of mothering, my life is once again about rushing and hurrying.

There are so many time now that I miss the days of searching for ladybugs and animal prints and pondering on the shape of clouds.

Domestic Chicky said...

Sweet and perfect...

Here are my choice for puddle jumping...who can resist cupcake boots?

http://tinyurl.com/3xw5o4

Mother Hoodwink said...

As my first child is fast approaching his first birthday, I have found myself wondering where this year went. I definitely have learned to act more like the tortoise.

metro mama said...

There are days when Cakes and I are hanging out at the park, and I get a little bored. I'm quick to shake my head and remind myself how good I have it.

Oh, The Joys said...

I call it the "toddler zen" and I love the days when I feel it.

Tessa said...

Ahhh I totally missed out on those days. I was one of those "working moms". The hardest day of my life was dropping him off at daycare at 6 weeks old. Cherish it while its there ladies. :)

Lawyer Mama said...

Sometimes operating on "toddler time" irritates the hell out of me, but other times it's the best thing ever. Thanks for reminding me to slow down!

Cate said...

So very true. I love the savoring of every little thing...except when we're trying to get out the door.

Blog Antagonist said...

You said that so well I don't really have anything to add. It's true, every word. And when they get older, you just wish that things would stay the same pace so you wouldn't have to wake up one day and realize that your baby is taller than you, and sprouting hair in most disconcerting places and how the hell did that happen??

I would tell you to enjoy the slowness, but it sounds like that would be preaching to the choir. . Good for you. :?)

Emily Snipes said...

Straight up! Thanks for making me stop & think.

Wait...three girlfriends & three toddlers???? WOW!

Kyla said...

I really am loving it...except when we are rushing out the door. Or when I'm spending time with childless people and cannot think of anything to say that isn't about the kids. *lol*

dionna said...

Not being a parent, the only way I can relate to slowing down is on vacation. And not the normal events-packed vacation I gravitate toward, but those rare vacations where all I have to do is sit and soak up the environment. At those times I have felt what you describe in this post. Sad, that I forget it as soon as I get back to the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Nancy said...

Wonderful post.

And the perfect note on which I shall set down my laptop and go off to enjoy the mundane (but great!) pieces of an evening with Mimi...

mamatulip said...

True dat, girl. Today we went for a walk -- Oliver in the stroller and Julia on her Dora bike. And as we walked I noticed Oliver spotting things on the ground -- pinecones, sticks, a shiny button -- and I picked them up for him to hold and look at. With each new thing he discarded the last, but what captivated me was his fascination for each thing. He rolled them over in his hand, feeling them and examining them.

Watching him take it all in was fun. And it made me look at walks in a different way.

On a sort of related yet different note -- god, do I hate it when people speed down our street, which is typically full of kids on a warm day. Like, slow the fuck down, eh?

kgirl said...

you said it. my favourite thing to do is go outside and just let Bee lead us wherever she wants to go, at whatever speed she wants to go at.
I swear if I ever write a thesis is will be called '5-second bacon and the culture of impatience.'

Jennifer said...

I love this post. It's so true and a great reminder to slow down and enjoy. They won't be toddlers forever.

Jill said...

I've been both the tortoise and the hare, and I have to say, there's really something to be said for being the tortoise!

Mamma said...

It's so true. I love eating those moments up.

jen said...

this made me cry. my lovely turtle friend.

thank you.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

Such a tender post. So true. I don't call it patience, I say it's a bigger love.

Elizabeth said...

Yes yes yes! Now that it is getting warmer, Kaitlyn wants to go for a walk every chance she gets, and it is agonizingly slow. She has to pick up every stick she sees, squat down, and poke the ground with the stick a few times. Repeat, repeat. I actually have to remind myself to slow down and wait for her to finish her exploring.

Groovy Lady said...

Very good post and so true. I feel bad for the parents that don't slow down, because even when you do.. years later you wonder how it all went by so quickly.

To not have those moments that slowing down allows to stick in your mind would be such a monumental loss. Great post!

something blue said...

There is a stop sign near our house and I see 90% of people barely slow down. It makes me furious.

Experiencing all the little things makes everything new again. It helps slow everything down when you are mesmerized by the beauty and wonder all around you.

flutter said...

have I mentioned that I think you're fabulous?

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I was all set to write something about your message and I got caught up in the last comment. What?!?!?!

Mrs. Chicky said...

FOD - I have exorcised the demon. The comment is gone.

(and, no, she wasn't referring to Flutter's comment because - duh - fabuuulousss!)

NKYGAL said...

I try and savor every little moment with my boys (20 mos./4.5 yrs). They grow up so fast and before you know it, they won't need us (or want us) to pick out their rain boots.

Another great post.

Redneck Mommy said...

You got a troll?

Look at you girl!

Your post was brilliant.

Of course, I didn't need the reminder to slow down.

I am, indeed, perfect in every way...

Wink, wink.

At least in my own mind...

kittenpie said...

Ah, there are times I'm the tortoise, times I'm the hare. I love the puddle-jumping times, I love the chalk-drawing and the story-reading and the train-track-making times. But this weekend, this weekend I was too tired and sore to sit down and engage. And her asking, "Would you play with me?" tore me in two. Because I want her to remember that I would, indeed, play with her, but I couldn't get my fuzzy head in the game. Sigh. Long weekend coming soon, at least, so we can make some better moments.

petite gourmand said...

beautifully put.

mo-wo said...

ooooh ooooh oooooo! I think you have just helped me with my writer's block.. it has something to do with the challenging glance + smirk of my two year old and the sentence..

"I guess it's a butterfly"