A new pace of life

by Andrea Cooley

playing in sandSlowing down isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I like to be doing at least two things at once and I am always thinking about what’s next. What’s for dinner tomorrow, what we will do when Emerson wakes up from his nap, where will our next vacation be, and what house project we’ll tackle next. Until recently, slow wasn’t in my vocabulary.

Emerson is teaching me how to slow down and be present. If you’ve spent any amount of time with a 20 month old, you know that the only thing they do fast is run away from you. Otherwise it can easily take him 20 minutes to walk to the car, stopping to pick up a ball, drop the ball, get a drink, listen for trucks and airplanes, and sing a song. Obviously there are times when we need to be at an appointment or meet someone at a certain time and I have to put him in the car without waiting for him to get there himself, but otherwise, he doesn’t have an agenda. He’ll get there when he gets there.

building with blocksEmerson has no concept of time. He doesn’t need to. I feed him, change him, and put him to bed when he needs to. Every other part of his day is playtime. Our days have a little structure (he usually gets to watch 20 minutes of Daniel Tiger in the morning while I have my coffee) and we try to take a walk in the morning, but otherwise he doesn’t know that I need to do laundry, buy groceries, vacuum, pay bills, and cook dinner.

I’m learning to enjoy his pace of life. I’ll admit, there are days when he wakes up from a nap and I realize we still have 2 or 3 hours until Adam gets home that I go a little stir crazy and wonder how in the world we will pass the time. But I don’t check my phone to see what time it is as often and I can enjoy 2 hours of just hanging out, not really doing anything but playing with him.

water boySo we fill our days blowing bubbles, finding rocks, and talking to neighbors who are out. We take multiple walks and water the plants. Anything and everything can be an adventure with a toddler! I’m learning how to be more spontaneous. I’m still a planner, and I do schedule play dates, but there’s room in our schedule for impromptu drop bys and picnics or trips to the zoo on an unseasonably cool day.

You have to build a degree of flexibility into your life when kids are involved. I know Emerson always takes an afternoon nap and it’s usually around 3 hours, but some days it’s shorter and some days it’s longer. I’m thankful that for the most part my work is flexible enough that I don’t have to wake him up and we can adjust our plans accordingly.

I’m still not always good at slowing down. There are times when I can’t help but think that I could be folding clothes or getting dinner ready, but I’m also learning that I don’t have to be “productive” every minute. Yes, this means that some days my to-do list grows instead of shrinks, but that’s OK. Playing with Emerson and giving him my undivided attention is also important.

It also helps that I’m 34 weeks pregnant and moving slower in general. I also know that these relatively quiet days, just the two of us are numbered. I want to enjoy reading him the same book 3 times in a row, and that I don’t have to stop playing with him because it’s time to feed the baby.

Is anyone else adjusting to a different pace of life? Sometimes I laugh when I say things are “slower” now, because even though there are moments that feel slow, in general life feels crazy and full of things to do, people to see, and places to go. Maybe I just have a new appreciation for a slower pace.

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Andrea Cooley

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