I'm one year away from freedom. One year. And it is a limited freedom, there are mighty parameters to it. But I can smell it: Full Day Kindergarten. Portia will be in school all day long next year. And Libby will be old enough to go to preschool two mornings a week. I will Be Alone. I will Have Time. I Cannot Wait. But then sometimes, I mull over the pending school days for my two girls, and I want to run the other way. I want to have another baby. I want to let Libby keep using her binky. I want them to stay so little. It is going too slow sometimes and then too fast most days.
Libby and I recently went to a local orchard and petting zoo together. I try to get dates with each of my girls, one on one to connect and love on each other. This occasion Libby and I scored a private wagon ride while we shared a Honey Crisp apple the size of her head. We smelled the fresh Fall air and bounced along behind a tractor. We snuggled side by side chewing our crisp juicy apple in utter happiness.
When the ride ended, we strolled to the farm area where we could feed and pet the animals. I trailed behind Libby and let her decide who to see first. She went for the potbellied pigs. They were in three houses; brick, straw, and sticks just like the "Three Little Pigs" story. After that we wandered over to the "Llama Llama Red Pajama" pen. Libby and I both asked them where their red pajamas were...this is one of my favorite books. The llamas were mum on the subject. "OK Libby, what next?" She didn't reply. She lingered at the Llama pen. After a second or two I grew impatient. "Oh look! Turkeys!" She didn't reply but I took her tiny little hand and led her to the turkey pen. After a minute or two I hustled her to the calves. Then the rabbits. Then goats, play tractors, miniature horses, baby chicks. I was hurried.
Why was I hurried? To check off each animal on the list? I tried to just hang. I tried to just rest, but I am ashamed to admit I couldn't. I wanted to hurry up and have some fun. I wanted all of the fun. I wanted Libby to have every inch of fun offered in the petting zoo. We didn't really have a tight timeline. Libby would have been just as happy at seeing one animal as she was at seeing every single animal. And maybe she was just a little less happy with me moving her along like a tour bus of golden Girls. Why couldn't I just be? Or at least, why couldn't I just let her be?
My girls don't take extra classes yet. We aren't doing toddler golf, toddler tennis, toddler swimming (well OK, we have done a few sporadic swim classes at the YMCA) but no toddler dance, soccer, gymnastics, music, toddlers in tiaras or whatever I am missing. Mostly because we don't want to spend that kind of money yet and because I am a little lazy and don't want to drive all over everywhere to deliver them to the classes. I don't want them overstimulated. We are living simply. We are going slow. So why am I hurried in my leisure? I know better. Why do I go too fast through the pleasures in my life? Why do I have the "Hurry up and enjoy" skill set?
I don't just go too fast with my daughters. I go too fast with food. I eat faster to eat more of whatever I am enjoying. I go too fast with parties or events, getting so caught up in preparation and stressing over details or what I am wearing or how things should go. Instead of living in the moments and savoring them, I am always rushing. Going too fast either in my head or quite literally grabbing someone's little hand and leading them to the next great thing.
How do I slow down? I do not want to live in a way that teaches my daughters this restlessness. How does one slow down in life and enjoy each moment, each day, each year as it passes? This question reminds me of a Joni Mitchell song my girls ask me to sing often. "The Circle Game" "The Seasons, they go round and round, the painted ponies go up and down, we're captive on a carousel of time..."
Although I may still go too fast, I will rest in the knowledge that from time to time I do stop and enjoy the single precious moment before moving forward to the next. I will enjoy my freedom next school year, and I will enjoy pudgy hands now banging on the bathroom door with a chorus of "Mama! Mama! MAMA!" I will love my fast life as it zips forward one moment to the next. Even when it is going too fast.