Toronto, On the Slow
March 29, 2015
Whew, we’re back! It seriously took us the whole week to adjust – that toddler jet lag is a mean old beast. But! The drizzly muck of winter lifted while we were away and it’s been fresh and sunny here in Bonn, everyone’s a bikin’ and the fuzzy magnolia buds are unfurling! Plus, Achim seized his chance, free from my trinket-hoarding grasp to rearrange and declutter so we walked into a more spacious, tidy and – I will begrudgingly admit – somewhat nicer space. It’s good to be home.
I’m still thinking about our trip. It did my heart so much good. Mostly, I just savoured the time with my family, but I’ve also totally been basking in the afterglow of that one week toddler-free in Toronto! I feel a little guilty saying it, but I had such a happy week! It wasn’t that I was so happy to be away from Joni. I missed him a lot. It was just delicious to have a week that was so… slow. It’s really got me thinking…
Since Jonah’s birth he’s been my little sidekick. I haven’t left him much, by my own choice. I kinda didn’t think I needed it. I had a pretty PG existence before having kids, so parenthood didn’t change my occupations all that much. We still travel, I still make stuff, go to cafes and second hand shops and flea markets. Explore. Go to the beach. Visit friends. Often, I just cart him along. It’s fun, he’s a great buddy, most of the time.
But curiously… I noticed that alone I was, um, well… nicer. I’m afraid I can be a little snippy. Heh. But suddenly it felt way easier to be the helpful, easy-going, kind, thoughtful, patient person I like to imagine I am. And I was like, OH. I see. It’s not me, it’s my kid.
Lol, no. I wish I could blame him! He’s a good little guy. There are probably a bunch of reasons – just generally feeling the responsibility of caring for another beloved being is a heavy load! But something I also really noticed was the difference in the pace of life. Or rather, the way I cope with it. I’ve generally always got an eye on the clock with J, trying to keep ahead of the ever pressing routine of meals and naps and bedtimes… In my natural state, I’m a watchless gypsy wanderer, so that constant push get’s me a little edgy.
Without that SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT routine to govern me, I simply resumed my natural life speed: that of a somewhat chipper turtle. I perused, lingered, admired, noticed, took my sweet old time. Ahh. And I felt so good, physically and emotionally. I like nice, kind, helpful me!
And then a week later my delightful boy arrived with my mom, and I was so, so happy to see him! But by the second evening, there I was, snipping at my poor postpartum sister for hushing me as I tried to wrangle Jonah into his snowsuit and hustle him, well past his bedtime, to our home away from home for bed. Which made me feel shitty, of course.
So I got to thinking about what was going on. I don’t think the point here is that I need more vacations, or even more time away from big J. I’d actually venture to say that the kid routine hoopla itself has been good for me – with a little structure, I’m more productive, tidier (well, a little), in and out of bed earlier more often, and I eat way (oh man, WAYYY) better and more regularly then before.
But the urgency I feel to make it all happen – is that really necessary?
My mom had a good analogy. It’s like I’m driving, really flying along super fast. I’ve got some place I’ve GOT TO BE. I’m trying to follow the GPS, navigate traffic. But the other passengers need this or that, want the radio channel/volume/temperature changed. Want to chat. Want me to explain something. And next thing you know… I kill a porcupine. On the other hand, had I been just rollin’, nice and easy, taking my time, those same things would have been easier to cope with. Annnnd I coulda avoided the poor porcupine. And felt a whole lot better!
Fact is, I think that making sure it all happens as we believe it should is hard. It does take serious drive! But… is that balanced meal, bath, or bike ride (BECAUSE THE KID NEEDS HIS EXERCISE, DARN IT!!!) worth losing happy moments over? No, no I’d say it’s probably not.
So I’m trying to slow down. Think about our days in terms of the pressure it’ll take to make them happen. Be a little more realistic and focus on doing thing joyfully, being present, and – okay, this is a little hokey but I think it works – on the slow, rather than always on the go.
We’ll see how it goes (or slows, harhar). What do you think – whether you are a parent or not, life can be hella fast. Are you feeling the need to slow things down too?
p.s. Here’s an interesting little article based in neuroscience with some nice tricks for slowing down time!