Grownups slow down

A sermon to myself…and whoever else needs it

If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a gazillion times – every parent of an infant, toddler, or preschooler has: “Enjoy every minute.” “It goes so fast.” “Oh, don’t miss a thing, they grow up so fast.”

“They grow up so fast.”blur

“They grow up so fast.”

And I believe them, especially now that mine are the ripe old ages of 9 and 7. It IS true. They DO grow up like weeds, before your very eyes. They are swaddled in swaddles one day and sporting a varsity jacket the next, yes. They are toddling into your bed entirely too early one morning, then off on a honeymoon the next morning, it seems.

I get it.

I also get what an eye-roll this causes to the sleep-deprived parent, the one who can’t remember the last time they showered before 2 p.m. Or the mom with one child in the shopping cart, one in the papoose, and one over there next to the cash register, peeing on the floor. Or the terribly gray father who just hopes his little girl (who hasn’t been little since puberty struck three years ago) is safe with “those” friends, or that pimple-faced teenage boy with the weird t-shirts. Those folks are ready for this phase to be done already, for the love.

It’s both/and, as usual. The years go by so fast – even when the days are going by so slow. Both/and.

But I have a thought:

Maybe it’s the grownups who need to slow down.

Shrug. Sure, of course, we all know we’re just about all too rushed, and we all casually throw around the pat, expected phrases: “I just need to simplify my life.” “Oh, I’m just too busy.” “Well, I’m just slammed these days.” Blah blah blah.

But – and much has been written about this elsewhere, far more articulately than I could put it, and even with that all-important thing, DATA – we have elevated busyness to a most aspirational idol. We worship it. If you have time to sit and watch the river go by, you’re obviously not a very important person.

(Please hear the sarcasm in that last sentence. Ye gads.)

Here’s my point: I strongly suspect one of the reasons “they grow up so fast” is because we are simply moving so fast we don’t notice that time is passing.

We’re up at dawn so we can get in a workout before we have to take the kids to daycare/preschool/school. We rush to work, rush through lunch (eating it at our desk, if at all), rush to get the kids, rush home, rush to band or dance or karate or soccer or church or after-school job or the grocery store or out to eat or to “run a few errands.” We rush back home for dinner (maybe), homework, a little veggie-ing in front of Hulu or Netflix, a little laundry or yard work or straightening up the room formerly known as the dining room, and collapse, dear Lord, collapse into bed hoping we can carry it all off again tomorrow.

Throw a little grad school in for fun.

Or a crisis of any size – car in the shop, kid with a cast, teenager with mono, aging parents who can’t figure out how to operate the Tivo, a friend who’s child’s just been diagnosed.

The result?

We don’t have time to snuggle with the toddler – unless he’s going to sit still long enough for an Instagram photo.

We don’t have time to play with plastic horses and dollhouses – here, let’s invite a friend over to do that with you, honey.

We don’t have time to screw up the science fair project, so just let me do all the typing for you and the Internet research (because I don’t have time to teach you how to be safe online).

We don’t have time to watch her stumble through the dance steps – show me when you’ve learned it a little better, sweetie.

We don’t have time to sit and speculate on the “elevator to space” idea – well, we have about three minutes for that, no more.

We don’t have time to read his favorite parts of Robinson Crusoe again.

You’ve watched this movie before? Well, then enjoy, but I don’t have time to sit down and watch it with you again.

We certainly, we most certainly do not have more than one minute to sit outside and watch squirrels.

Or, when we do take those moments, the phone is in hand to capture it on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/whatever. Must have proof that we sat on the couch playing with yarn; the memory of it is insufficient. (But is it possible what she remembers is that I spent most of our “yarn” time trying to get a good photo??)

Or, and this is the hardest: the phone is down, we’re physically engaged, but our minds are elsewhere: dinner. What we need from Lowe’s. That strained conversation at work. How much the car repair will cost. Whether or not the clothes dryer has been emptied. When to go visit Mom again.

Yikes and zoiks, Scooby-Doo.

We slow down enough to binge on Netflix. And we slow down enough to linger over the wine after supper. We slow down enough, maybe, to stay up a little longer reading a book.

But maybe part of the reason our children “grow up so fast” is because we are living our lives in an absolute whirlwind, a blur of tasks and trivialities. Our children are our little planets, and we are comets who complain that we never get to see the landscape – we fly high and fast and burning, but rarely land.

The solution?slow-down

Probably, actually slow down. Sit on the couch with the kids. Set down the phone at practice, at rehearsal, for God’s sake set it down during the game or performance. Forgo movie night; sit around the table and play games together. Take a road trip and leave all the handhelds (including yours!!) in the trunk, at least for the first half of the trip, right? Go on a walk and talk. Shell butterbeans or shovel snow together. Fold clothes together. Cook together. Eat together. Sit in the same room reading books. Look through old photos together. Build something together that won’t be graded.

What’s the common word there? Together.

Drop as much hurry as you can, widen the margins as much as you can, buy less presents but offer more presence.

Maybe if we slow down, the years will seem less frantic, more reasonable, more noticed, more enjoyed.

They do grow up too fast.

Don’t compound the speed by moving so fast yourself.

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Published in: on February 16, 2017 at 2:26 am  Leave a Comment  

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