Photo courtesy of Rachel Macy Stafford
Editor's note: This post by Rachel Macy Stafford originally appeared on her blog, Hands Free Mama. It has been reprinted here with permission.
When you're living a distracted life, every minute must be accounted for. You feel like you must be checking something off the list, staring at a screen or rushing off to the next destination. And no matter how many ways you divide your time and attention, no matter how many duties you try and multi-task, there's never enough time in a day to ever catch up.
That was my life for two frantic years. My thoughts and actions were controlled by electronic notifications, ring tones and jam-packed agendas. And although every fiber of my inner drill sergeant wanted to be on time to every activity on my overcommitted schedule, I wasn't.
You see, six years ago I was blessed with a laid-back, carefree, stop-and-smell-the roses type of child.
When I needed to be out the door, she was taking her sweet time picking out a purse and a glittery crown.
When I needed to be somewhere five minutes ago, she insisted on buckling her stuffed animal into a car seat.
When I needed to grab a quick lunch at Subway, she'd stop to speak to the elderly woman who looked like her grandma.
When I had 30 minutes to get in a run, she wanted me to stop the stroller and pet every dog we passed.
When I had a full agenda that started at 6 a.m., she asked to crack the eggs and stir them ever so gently.
My carefree child was a gift to my Type A, task-driven nature — but I didn't see it. Oh no, when you live life distracted, you have tunnel vision — only looking ahead to what's next on the agenda. And anything that cannot be checked off the list is a waste of time.
Whenever my child caused me to deviate from my master schedule, I thought to myself, "We don't have time for this." Consequently, the two words I most commonly spoke to my little lover of life were, "Hurry up."
I started my sentences with it.
Hurry up, we're gonna be late.
I ended sentences with it.
We're going to miss everything if you don't hurry up.
I started my day with it.
Hurry up and eat your breakfast.
Hurry up and get dressed.
I ended my day with it.
Hurry up and brush your teeth.
Hurry up and get in bed.
And although the words "hurry up" did little if nothing to increase my childs speed, I said them anyway. Maybe even more than the words, "I love you."
The truth hurts, but the truth heals ... and brings me closer to the parent I want to be.
Then one fateful day, things changed. We'd just picked my older daughter up from kindergarten and were getting out of the car. Not going fast enough for her liking, my older daughter said to her little sister, "You are so slow." And when she crossed her arms and let out an exasperated sigh, I saw myself — and it was a gut-wrenching sight.
I was a bully who pushed and pressured and hurried a small child who simply wanted to enjoy life.
My eyes were opened; I saw with clarity the damage my hurried existence was doing to both of my children.
Although my voice trembled, I looked into my small child's eyes and said, "I am so sorry I have been making you hurry. I love that you take your time, and I want to be more like you."
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