You can’t hurry a toddler with eyes full of wonder. You can’t motivate her to rush into the carseat when an anthill has caught her eye. You can’t convince her that clouds taking new shape in the breeze aren’t the most important thing happening right now. Little ones dwell in the places I rarely remember to visit. They dwell in the colors of the butterfly and the feeling of blades of grass under toes. They revel in the magic of sand running between fingers and snowflakes landing on eyelashes. From a daddy’s tickles to a sibling’s knock-knock jokes, young children can delight in a silly moment and want to recreate and relive it as many times as they can (perhaps until an adult tires of it, and asks them to play a new game). Living in a house full of small people who know how to embrace and enjoy the moments of their days, I realize that I am the only one who doesn’t get it. So, these days, I am a student of my children, in the school of “Stop and smell the roses.” I long for more of their joy, their calm, their freedom, their humility. They rarely feel that life is too heavy to giggle. They don’t feel too important to slow down. They never feel too busy or stressed to play. In their view, life is play. When something beautiful or interesting or unexpected crosses their path, they are not inclined to view it as trivial or ill-timed. They receive it as gift.
And, marvel of marvels, Jesus instructed us to be like them. What hidden treasures might be found in encountering God’s world through their lens.
Mamas, do most of your arguments with your children begin with being in a hurry? I know mine do. Children move slowly… they have a natural drive to take in, experience and learn about the world around them. It can be maddening when the rest of the world is moving so quickly. When there is a clock ticking, a place to be, a thing to be done, I can look at my children and think that their slow pace simply reflects a lack of responsibility. But it strikes me, that as children of God, we are given the opportunity to live with the same freedom. If it’s all up to me, and the weight of the world is on my shoulders, than there is simply no time to spare. But if God is on the throne, and I’m just a child in His world, destined to live in this fleshy body and with a limited number of hours in a day, then I am actually and truly free to slow the heck down. It has always amazed me that Jesus never seemed to rush. He was highly demanded of – perhaps more than anyone else who has walked the planet. Crowds by the thousands were desperate for his teaching and his healing touch. They chased him across bodies of water, and interrupted his quiet moments. He knows how we feel, mamas! And yet, he never seemed to hurry. Perhaps there is a childlike faith that allows us to believe in our depths that God only intends for us to be in the singular moment that we are in right now. When we feel we need to be in more than one place at a time, we are believing a lie. God can be all the places – we are only meant to be in the one. Children seem to get it, but as we grow and gain responsibility and start believing that we are desperately needed to keep the world spinning, we forget how to live with this kind of presence.
I am watching my children, and trying to do everything in my power to NOT RUSH. I am vowing to never try to squeeze in a grocery store run on our way to another appointment. I will always build in time for someone to need to poop. I will expect the unexpected and stop viewing it as an inconvenience. I’m learning that life is sweeter when I spend more time observing and learning from my children, and less time trying to make them like me. If we play by their rules a little more, maybe I will spend a bit less time making the perfect birthday cake, and a lot more time enjoying the rolly polly on the sidewalk. Friend, I’m finding this sweetness in building in “kid time.” Let the 8 yard walk to the car take 18 minutes so they (and you) can smell every flower and throw 47 helicopter maple seeds and pick up a caterpillar or two. Of course, many many mornings in my home still begin with my barking orders to put on shoes, or buckle up seat belts. Many times, we simply run out of time, and I grow quickly impatient. But, I am trying to shift my view and change my goals – delight versus efficiency.
I want to stop and smell the roses with my children, even if it means it’s going to take a little longer to get to where we’re going. After at least a million failed attempts, I now know fully and officially that I cannot muster up patience, especially when every moment that I try has been preceded by all of the things that make me want to pull my hair out one strand at a time. No, I can’t muster up patience. But I can choose to stop and delight. I can choose a gratitude that slooows the mind and body. I can soak the laughter, and the long silly stories from the lips of my children. I can ask them why they think that beetle is so amazing, or to teach me how to turn a cardboard box into an amazing day of adventure. I can laugh as they eat an ice cream cone upside down, praising Jesus for washing machines.