I did nothing I intended to do today. No amount of slowness was going to change that, but the mentality that cultivating slowness has developed in me let me really engage with what has been happening instead of the long-held habit of only partially paying attention to what IS happening and mostly lamenting what I wanted to happen and how to make it so. Let me be 100% clear: I like this way better than the old way.
My intended day didn’t slowly drain from the agenda, it flew away like a little piece of paper in a hurricane. Because of this, there was nothing left for me to try to save, no amount of “if i just do this, then i can…” and consequently I have been able to engage with my children with a freedom most days don’t allow. Most days have at least some objectives no matter how slowly I am going.
But, today, I got some 1-on-1 time with each of them. Each of them told me things I’ve never heard before, got excited about things I didn’t know about and expressed interests that were new to me. I mean, we are all changing, evolving beings – and children are changing and evolving at an outrageous pace, but it is exciting to have someone you know so well surprise you. It is especially invigorating to go roaming into new territory. All this from listening without agenda, nowhere to go, nothing to be but here and now with you.
I would like this to be my every day. I would like to bring focused attention to these marvelous beings that are always bubbling with new thoughts. When I am reactive, when I am “on task” or when I am just treading water I do not have the time or inclination to meet them with such openness. Realizing that is just so sad. How often I listen to the story simply so I can get to the “that’s nice. now will you please empty the dishwasher?” And that just sucks.
I get this wonderful feeling that as I deepen my practice of slowing down, of stillness, of agenda-release, today is giving me a glimpse of the kind of connection that can become our new normal. Laughter-based over criteria-meeting. I am so freaking sick of criteria.
I am also super psyched to have this tangibly come up while my kids are still relatively young. Enjoying their current stages, and their coming ones may just be the most important stages of all. Most parents are pretty chillax about a child learning to walk. No need to freak out, it’s a process, there are ups and downs – we recognize that. Plus, let’s face it: toddlers are adorable. But when kids are learning to really be themselves? Who they are socially, what they really care about, how they want to show up in the world – all this stuff that is *really hard* and it just happens to fall during the period of time when their bodies are changing and lanky and awkward, their hormones are messing with them and we parents are often the most demanding, the least empathetic, the most frustrated.
Culturally, I think we can do better. I remember Gordon School’s principal talking about how important it is to hire middle school teachers that *actually enjoy* middle school kids. The thought had never occurred to me before (honestly, and this is embarrassing, that anyone particularly liked that awkward phase, much less that teachers could enjoy students at all). Now I see the beauty, the humor, the vast vistas and the dark corners of adolescence. It is so much different for my kids than it was for me. And i am SO happy my life has conspired to have me be here, so persent to it. And today showed me I can be even moreso, and the rewards are… beyond.