It was those seven words that hit me in the chest like the descent from the tallest roller coaster. My stomach dropped, my heart sped up and quite frankly, my mind was blown. My daughter meant it about the tire swing she was on but I heard a completely different statement. I was going too fast. I needed to slow down. Oh how right she was!
As I released her from the tire and she ran on to the next playground adventure, oblivious to the effect her words had on me, I sat down on the bench to reflect on this concept of time.
After having our daughter while in university raising her and getting pregnant again became my priority. After my first miscarriage, the need for a second baby became borderline obsessive as my biological clock ticked loudly in my ear. Thoughts of finishing my degree became as foreign as trying to learn Balinese and all other plans were put on hold.
Life in limbo is a sad, dark place to be; it’s a negative place made worse by the small flame of constant hope.
Life was in limbo. I couldn’t commit to plans, long term or otherwise because of that constant “what if” plaguing my psyche. What if I got pregnant? What if I was as sick as I was with Claire? What if I couldn’t write exams because of that sickness? What if I couldn’t get a refund on my flight? What if I miscarried while travelling? What if travelling causes me to miscarry? It was endless. So instead, I did nothing. I stayed at home with my daughter, playing outdoors, going camping, baking delights. I made no plans other than to continue to try to have another baby. That plan was the biggest, most important plan of my life. I NEEDED to grow my family.
There were a couple big factors in coming to terms with having a family of three. One was that I had gotten to a point where I was rarely present for anyone or anything. Even though I’d participate in Life, I wasn’t really there. I was constantly thinking about the future, a future that looked dreamy and wonderful and perfect and fulfilling. My head was always ahead of the game: planning for a baby, tracking my cycle, cancelling plans and making plans for nonexistent happenings like a birth that never came. I wasn’t fully enjoying my daughter because I was too caught up in my emotions around this secondary infertility and too busy preparing for a life that never bloomed. She was missing out on so much with me. And I was missing out on so much with her too. Somehow, over the course of a few months, I started realizing what I was doing. I had to consciously stop myself from daydreaming and force myself back to the Now. I had to be reintroduced to the Present. I had to shake it’s hand every time I felt my gaze slipping away and I had to work at being in the moment for my child. She deserved nothing less.
Thus began our life as a happy trio. But then I noticed something else. I was now living life in the fast lane and I was dragging my kid with me. We couldn’t leave for the park until I had the dishes done. Our days were dictated by routines and schedules. I couldn’t colour with her until this was done or that was done. We were out of the house by 9 a.m. most days to run errands or get to play dates. Our mornings became a script:
“Hurry! We’re going to be late! Please just get your shoes on. PLEASE get your shoes on! Just put them on! NO, you can’t bring your new jewelry box. Yes, you can bring Twilight Sparkle. Can you please just get ready?! Do you have socks on? Where are they? Get ready, please! Hurry!”
Sound familiar? I was constantly putting this time constraint on everything we did, fighting a clock that meant nothing in the grand scheme of Life and forcing my child to catch up to my speed of living. Children have no concept of time and here I was throwing her into my skewed concept of it and potentially setting her up to be another woman feeling like she needed to win the rat race!
Then, the big *a-ha* hit me. I listened to a podcast about a family of four who were driving, hit a downpour, spun out of control, crossed the median and were struck by a transport truck. The toddler in the car was killed instantly. The horror and empathy I felt listening to that mother tell her story crushed me. I cried for her. I cried for the little girl, Mikayla. I cried for the truck driver who felt helpless. But it hit home.
We all hear how important it is to appreciate each day and to enjoy each moment because we’re not guaranteed the next day. We all know that today is all we have but it’s our society and our culture to live hard, live fast and go! go! go! It’s a thought that’s easy to understand and hard to implement when we’re bombarded by time. We have appointments and play dates and meetings and events manipulating our time and the faster we go, the more productive we feel and the more productive we feel, the more pride we feel because hell, if I’m not kicking Time’s ass today, what good am I?
As mothers, especially, we feel this need to GET. SHIT. DONE. Somehow many of us have adopted a line of thinking that says if we don’t have a spotless house with perfectly behaved children and a trophy wife body and a full schedule we’re doing something wrong.
I know I feel that way sometimes. I want my house clean; we’ve worked hard for it and I take pride in taking care of it. But honestly, the dishes can wait. The vacuuming can wait. No one is noticing the dust on your baseboards. If they are, who cares? The bedding can be washed on the next rainy day. You don’t need to put pants on today. Clothes are overrated anyways. Wear what you want. You don’t need to be put together perfectly every second of every day. You’re trying to raise a human! You’re trying to keep a human alive in a world with many threats to little people! If you want to wear track pants once in awhile or watch a movie on a sunny day, go for it.
Because, the treasures in Life, the moments you will look back on will be the ones where you were laughing, making memories, being present and enjoying Life. You’ll never look back and say, “I sure wish I had spent more time at the office.” For most, it’s the opposite. We put duties and obligations and Time at the forefront of our worth when in actuality, its the relationships and connections that make Life worth living. It’s how well we listen, how well we receive love, how we make others feel that give us true Value. Work is important, of course, but Love is more important.
So today, on this beautiful Sunday, put away your phone, disconnect from the social media wheel, get outside with friends and family and laugh until your body aches. Time will always feel like its moving faster and faster and while I respect it immensely, it’s time to put the breaks on it and enjoy the little things. Slow down friends, Life is better in the slow lane.
United we rise,