Have you ever seen that scene from Family Guy where little Stewie says to his mom, “Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mom. Mommy. Mommy. Mom. Mama. Mama. Mama. Ma. Ma. Ma….”? When his mom finally acknowledges him, he replies “Hi,” then giggles, and runs out of the room.
Before becoming a mom, I thought this was an exaggerated comedic rendition of young children’s speech patterns and quests for attention. Now I know that it’s not an exaggeration. It’s actually eerily accurate. And, the comedic punch of it loses some power after the same “mommy” cycle happens multiple times a day.
“Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mom. Mommy. Mommy. Mom. Mama. Mama. Mama. Ma. Ma. Ma,” my three year old chirps happily. Sometimes I can take the stammering of the same word over and over and over and over and over again (sometimes it’s not “mommy.” Sometimes it’s “um” or “hey mommy” or “I just,” to name a few). Other times I want to respond to her the same way the mom on Family Guy does – with an exasperated “WHAT?!”
But before I turn into the cartoon version of myself, I hold my breath and remember that my little one is learning to communicate and that the story she wants to tell me about the dream she had where a dinosaur came into her room and read her the Three Little Bears book that she refuses to let me read to her is the most exciting story she’ll tell all day. Her brain is working so quickly that she just. can’t. get. it. out. So, instead she goes into overload and just repeats the same word or phrase a few times before finishing her thought.
This exercise in patience – in holding my breath and catching my words before finishing her sentences for her or getting frustrated – has been a good practice in more than just the recounting of our days. It is also effective in the inevitable moment (moments) throughout a given day or weekend when we are running late and I have to tell my kids to “Hurry up!” On plenty of occasions when I tell my kids that we are running late, the older one responds, “I very don’t like being late,” though she doesn’t entirely grasp the concept. Even still, it breaks my heart every time she says it. She has no control of her schedule, and yet has already developed an understanding that she doesn’t want to deviate from it. Yes, there are times that they need to be reminded to keep moving, and teaching punctuality is important. But in a world driven by being fast, where information is literally at our fingertips and day planners (or Google calendars) are full of appointments, meetings and places to be, sometimes keeping moving and punctuality are not always the priority.
The juxtaposition of me looking at the clock while my kids look at the shapes in the clouds is a good reminder that kids have no concept of time. Like, none. (This becomes unbelievably evident every Saturday when we’ve been awake since 6:30am but still can’t seem to get to the 9am swim lesson on time!) So, in those moments I have to make a choice between the hands on a clock or the moments at hand.
It’s in those moments that I try to remember to slow down and take it all in. It’s in those moments that I remember to enjoy the morning cuddles while watching Elmo for five more minutes before jumping out of bed and starting our regular routines. And in the moments when I allow my daughter’s imagination to steer us, literally and figuratively. And in the moments when we’re already late and another two minutes to watch the snail cross the sidewalk isn’t hurting anybody (unless someone steps in the wrong place, and then it’s hurting the snail!)
Time goes by so quickly. I don’t want to rush my children growing up, and I don’t want them to feel like they had to “hurry up” just to get from point A to point B, when there’s a lot to see in between. Sometimes, I just want to feel the freedom to slow down and enjoy the moment.
How do you remember to slow down? What are the moments you enjoy most?