Confession: I sometimes call my daughter Molasses. She doesn’t know what molasses is. She’s never seemed to care when I call her molasses. I don’t think she really is paying much attention to me when I call her molasses. But still, I call my sweet girl molasses and I kind of feel bad.
You see, if you’ve ever had a four year old, you might understand. They tell you that kids are always on the go and there energy levels are very high. This is all true. Until you need to leave to get to daycare/work on time or until you are trying to meet with some friends, or leave a busy store, or get to a place where you can sit and feed the screaming baby. Then, kids move like molasses. Turtles, snails, and four years old could compete and I’m not sure who would win if you’re comparing the speed of a four year old when mom is in a hurry!
When I stop and think about why my child moves like molasses I remember that this world is still brand new. Sure, she’s been around for four years, but she barely remembers any of that time period. And each new day overloads her system with new experiences, new sights, new tastes, new thoughts, new words, new sounds.
We were in a buffet restaurant the other day and my sweet girl had to use the restroom twice in our short visit. We were with a large group of family and I wanted to eat and spend time with everyone, but I was spending an obnoxious amount of time in the bathroom with my four year old instead. On the way back to the table she was walking painfully slow and stopped to point out every single thing. “Look at these lights”, “Mom! Check out these fishies”, “What’s that stinky smell?”, “What does this do?”….All along, I was thinking: How long can it possibly take to move from the front of the restaurant to the back of the restaurant? Why are there so many things to look at in here? These people are going to think we’re rude for standing near their table so long while they’re eating. What is so exciting about the fish that we looked at two minutes ago??
There is so much to learn when you are only four. How much do I take for granted because I’ve seen hundreds of restaurant fish tanks, seen thousands of sunrises, experienced 30 different fall seasons, and stopped caring about what every stinky smell is? Children don’t all have ADHD that needs to be treated. They are born into a vast and vibrant world in which they literally, know nothing. Every single day is exciting and new, even when they do the same exact things they did yesterday. Wake up, eat breakfast, go to daycare, come home, eat dinner, play with toys, go to bed. Still filled with newness. Still filled with unique, never before experienced or imagined situations.
This post isn’t to make me feel guilty for calling my daughter molasses. It’s not meant to shame me for rushing my children. I still want to instill in my kids the need to be on time for appointments and commitments (something I struggle with). I still want my daughter to listen when I ask her to put on her shoes and get in the car. I still hope to teach my children to have a sense of urgency when things need to get done. But do we always need to rush? In our day and age, we are constantly running from here to there. We have schedules and to do lists and priorities and everything is urgent. But this isn’t real. I don’t need to rush from the bathroom back to the table in a restaurant. I don’t need to run through each store when we’re shopping. I don’t need to yell at her to get in the car just so we can hurry off to play at the park.
My hope is that when “molasses” sneaks out across my lips, that it may be a reminder to slow down and embrace the speed of a four year old. Sure, there will be moments when we need to hurry, but I want to make a conscious decision about those moments. When I start to get impatient, I hope to stop and consider, what are we rushing for? Can we take a few extra minutes to check out the colors of the leaves, the sound of the waterfall, to watch our breath as we talk on a cold winter morning, to reach out and feel those first few flakes of snow falling from the sky? What if I took her lead and just embraced all of the newness, to experience the beauty of all the things I take for granted? What if I tried to remember what it was like to jump in a puddle for the first time? What if I stopped to talk with my daughter and learn more about how her brain works as she experiences her every day? What if instead of rushing through life, we actually took the time to live?
I’m so grateful for the lessons that I learn from my kids. I’m thankful that I don’t have to feel guilty about rushing, I can just thank my girl for teaching me to live. What are your children teaching you lately?
*This post is part 3 in a series on gratitude, or more accurately, how I’m turning “mommy guilt” into gratitude. You can check out previous posts here and here.
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