I remember a time that doesn’t seem so long ago, when I would trot through a mall, casually stopping to admire something in a display window, popping inside on whim. Nowadays, trips to a mall are rather efficient affairs, generally armed with a detailed list and a plan of action already mapped out.
Grocery shopping is much the same except I write my grocery list in accordance to where the items are located in the store. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking efficiency and planning. That’s my jam! But something happened last week made me stop and think that maybe I need to slow down a bit.
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday. The girls had just finished a ballet lesson in Umhlanga and we decided to pop down to the beach across the road for a morning stroll. I found myself holding Harper’s hand, and ushering her along quickly, before she said: “I know we have to hurry mama”.
I was slightly taken aback, and enquired why we had to hurry. And her reply left me feeling like a real sh*t mom: “because we always have to hurry”. So, my stress, which I manifest as a constant state of ‘rush’ has now been conveyed to my toddler.
I walked the rest of the way to the beach in silence, mindfully slowly, and as the girls got stuck into building castles on the sand, I asked my husband if he felt that I was in a constant state of haste. His response was a loud laugh, confirming that I am indeed moving at breakneck pace and pushing them all to keep up. (Except he said it a little nicer than that – thankfully).
It stayed with me all day until the girls were finally asleep that night and I could really think about how I had been behaving in recent years. They were right of course. Something had happened along the way, and the girl who stopped to smell the roses had become the mother who stopped for well… nothing.
Man, I felt so guilty of inflicting that on my family! I don’t want to be the mom that is pushing them along all the time. I want to be the mom that is present, relaxed, fun. Surely I can be well-organized and still enjoy the little moments with my children? Where do I draw the line?
Firstly, I need to be mindful of how and when I convey haste. If we do need to hurry for any reason (maybe we’re late for something), I am going to communicate that to my children in a manner they will understand. I don’t want them thinking that we need to rush all the time, but allow them to understand when urgency is required, and why.
But more than anything I’m going to start making a conscious decision the be more present. And on the days when we have nowhere to go and nothing to do, I am going to allow them to set the pace. It will not be easy… I have been conditioned to run from one task to the next… but I am going to try my best to slow down and soak up this crazy, messy world of motherhood. I owe it to my kids to at least try.