Slowing Down to a Toddler's Pacemarylweimer
My natural pace is brisk, and my mindset is to get from point a to point b as quickly as possible. I enjoy the quickening of my breath and my heartbeat’s increase; they’re signs that I’m taking care of my body, relieving stress, and burning calories.
To a 3 year old, of course, none of these things matter. Her priorities are talking to the ducks in the creek, counting sticks, and throwing gravel. She stops at every bush and tree to inspect the leaves and place them in her pockets.
This difference isn’t just apparent when taking walks together. I notice it when we leave each morning for preschool— she takes her sweet time climbing into the SUV or grabbing her backpack from the closet. Wonderful distractions are everywhere: a ladybug on the sidewalk, perhaps, or her brother’s broken umbrella that she suddenly insists on showing her teacher.
And I’ll admit it: I often get frustrated with her for slowing me down. As my third child, you’d think I’d already know that young children are slow. But somehow that knowledge slips away every time I have somewhere else to be.
I’ve been thinking about this lately since my daughter is growing up more and more every day. Pretty soon, I’ll be the one slowing her down. Like her older brothers, soon her world won’t just revolve around home. She’ll have play dates and sleepovers and softball practice and Girl Scouts. She’ll have science projects and middle school dances and group dates at the movies.
Her childhood is precious. My time with her will slip away. Today, I think, we’ll walk the long way to the old bridge that crosses the creek. I’ll pack a tea party for two.
I’ll give her as much time as she needs.
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
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