There were fifty six of them. Blobby, fuzzy photos she’d snapped with my phone, at Chipotle, at Target, in the car, in our kitchen. Fifty six images, barely there, that capture the fleeting interests of a three year old dynamo as she bobbles from ballet to lunch to errands and then back home. And as her mama, needing some milk and broccoli after a lovely, thank-filled long weekend dragged her to these places before back home to bake cookies and pop popcorn and wait for the rest of the Smalls to jump off the bus. These lovely glimpses into eyes of the smallest Small. They have given me pause as I sit here, after wrestling her to sleep with the promise of a friend to play with when she wakes up. How often I forget to stop and see things from her perspective, from their perspective. How quick I am to just run around, checking things off lists, stockpiling food and other earthly goods under the guise of organization, and forgetting to look at the world through their lens and see that all doesn’t need to be fast or busy or put together. That sometimes slowing down is the surest way to take it all in. Not fast. Slow. And sometimes that doesn’t work either, like the first day of our long weekend. Disastrous. Me cooking, them whining, me playing a game, them declaring boredom. Here. On three acres surrounded by woods and creek and neighbors and cousins. Boredom here where Kidville beckons creative souls to pull on boots and make a fort and gain citizenship (unless you’re an adult-then you have to pay dues). Where now big ducks waddle up whenever they hear play sounds and follow kids until they’re thrown some corn and admired. Here with a cupboard full of boardgames and bins of Legos and dolls. Boredom here? I think not. Tried to take that day slow and just spent the better part of it wishing it would hurry up already and give birth to the next day. Spent small parts of it on my knees praying I wouldn’t kill them if they whined one more time, Smalls peeking in through the open door, knowing that when mama is on her knees pleading silently, only lips moving, things are serious and accusing each other of bringing this thing on. But that bad day gave birth to a wonderfully slow one next, which gave birth to another slow and another and another. Which by my count was four lovely days of bowling and eating yummy things and breakfasting out and going slow. Four days of snuggling by the fire, watching the flames dance as a Christmas movie played while Smalls were cozied up in various nests dotting the room. Four days of refusing to move too fast, to run too many errands. Four days that have reset my speed dial onto a more civilized pace so that I can sit and enjoy this life I’ve been handed. And there is a place for days that spawn a stack of receipts in my wallet and sixteen cans of black beans lined up neatly on my pantry shelves. But that place isn’t always, can’t be always. Because there are these people who need me to slow down and just be and one of them took fifty six photos of her fingers and then fell apart completely at dinner last night, fuming over her asparagus and pointing a found remote control at me while muttering, “I’ma turn vis movie off.” And so we sat at table, laughing behind our fingers, while she served a time out on her bed and then we snuggled in to read from a lovely new book I’ll tell you about soon. There were extra chapters of Betsy-Tacy so that we could get to the part where Tib comes in and rechristens the duet a trio. And long moments of laying beside the boys, listening to their breathing deepen as we dreamed big dreams of a football birthday party for Peter on Friday. This is the good stuff. The slow-down-and-take-a-deep-breath-and-suck-the-marrow-out-of-this-fleeting-time stuff. The take-the-phone-away-and-ask-her-what-she-sees stuff.
This is me being real. And wondering what you’re doing to slow down?