Slowing Down is the Answer

After school yesterday, Eliana and I decorated the Halloween cookies for her class, and the boys batted a ball in the family room. There was no homework in this house, so there was time.

Glorious time. A good thing, right?

And after the cookies, a little headache crept in, so I flopped on the couch and put on Cupcake Wars to watch mindless television for a little while with my children beside me. Except Asher and I kept arguing.

I couldn’t figure out why. There were eye rolls and cutting remarks and there was just such tension in the room. I stopped being fed by the responses, stopped reacting, and in my head tried to be the mom here, and figure out what was going on. Tired? Hungry? Upset?

The girls and Shaya left with Dan for dance, and Asher and I had an hour of nothing to do. “Let’s take a walk and talk,” I suggested. It was a beautiful, if chilly, evening, with still air mixing in the trees and I’d been laying low all week. The fresh air and movement would do us both some good.

As we started to meander through the neighborhood, the pretense dropped. No tension. No arguing. Just talking. Just us. Just lovely mother and son. Like a veil had lifted or rather been thrown off and into the bushes.

For much of the walk, he let me hold his hand. And we just talked, and strolled through the neighborhood, saying hello to Orthodox women we didn’t know, outside on the sidewalks with their many children.

Once we got home, and Asher poured himself a bowl of cereal, he said, “We should do this more. Spend time together.”

The perfect panacea.

“Yes, we should,” I said. “We can do that.”

He smiled. I smiled. That’s what parenting is all about, really. Taking the time to notice the kids and give them what they need.

Except in our busy lives, there isn’t time for that. We’re too busy punching clocks and meeting deadlines and running fast in many directions. Errands. Play dates. Extracurricular activities. Too many to-dos.

What’s the answer? If it’s that my son needs me around more as he gets older, and the other kids too, then that’s what has to happen.

I know a woman who retired as her children got into high school because they needed her around more. Something we’re not used to in this society, but it made perfect sense.

“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered. But most of all, I learned that life is about sitting on benches next to ancient creeks with my hand on her knee and sometimes, on good days, for falling in love.”
― Nicholas Sparks

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