Note from SlowMama: I’ve never had a man post here before, but I’m happy to have Jimmy Davis — a stay-at-home dad and blogger — break the streak. I’m sure a lot of you will be able to relate to his post today; I know I sure did.
The other day I found myself, yet again, struggling through the painful morning ritual I like to call “Getting Out the Door with Two Small Children.” Most days, this activity is a battle. I try to do as much prep work as I can before the kids are awake — pack the diaper bag, lay out their clothes, shower and dress myself, get breakfast ready. But it seems no matter how prepared I am, that last thirty minutes of gathering the kids and getting them out door is nothing short of pure chaos.
Someone is crying. Someone needs another diaper change. Someone left the broiler on. Someone is hungry again. Someone forgot his keys. Someone is left behind momentarily.
It’s not uncommon for this seemingly simple task to end in complete failure. “That’s it! We’re staying here! I don’t care anymore.”
So it was going the other day: My five-month-old daughter had been neglected long enough and was roasting in her winter coat as I wrestled with my two-year-old, trying to pin him down long enough to put on his own jacket and pants. I was talking to myself (why are you telling people this, Jimmy?), muttering nonsense, swearing, and coming dangerously close to quitting the endeavor and reverting to a pajama-and-movie day when my son grabbed his shoes, plopped himself in my lap, and began trying to put them on his feet all by himself. “Loren do it,” he tells me.
Without thinking, my response was, “No, let dada do it. Hurry up, please.” And then I stopped. What was I saying? We were going to the playground. Ruthie was losing her mind, but that was nothing new. My son was trying to be helpful and actually attempting to learn the important task of putting on his own shoes; for all I knew, this could be that one moment in time when he figured it out (it wasn’t, but that’s beside the point).
And in my rushed and frustrated state, I was trying to stop him.
I took a deep breath, checked my head, and then started giving him pointers about how to wiggle the shoe back and forth over his heel, which velcro straps to pull, and where to put them when they were taut.
Eventually, he got his shoes on. The time this little diversion took was completely negligible.
Slowing down isn’t a once-and-done concept, any more than good dental hygiene. You have to work at it, every day, or it doesn’t matter. Slow once a week isn’t enough. Slow when things are easygoing doesn’t cut it, either. Slow needs to be turned on in your brain — so much so that, even during those tense morning battles with your every-bit-a-stubborn-two-year-old son, you can still identify the moments that matter, and embrace them.
Image: Jimmy Davis. Jimmy is an attorney turned stay-at-home dad in Washington, D.C. He blogs at The Book of Jimmy.