Slow down . . . they’re only little for a short while.
Slow down . . . summer is winding down.
Slow down . . . it’ll all get done. Or not. Maybe it doesn’t need to.
Slow down. Breathe deep. Notice.
I’m good at getting things done, checking things off lists, moving forward through a plan. I’m not always so good at letting go of that list, sitting with the moment, just noticing, being, enjoying.
Monday, my big girl was away with her grandparents. It was just me and the little one. I was exhausted from a busy weekend—10K, wedding, lots of time in the car, driving to pick up the little one, sitting in traffic. I was overwhelmed by the week ahead of me—a proofreading project, tweaking a proposal with a client, the endless business to do list, prep for my new virtual writing group, never mind the writing I want to/should be doing. But the little one was home alone, so I took the morning off. We ran errands including picking out a patch to sew on her new backpack for school (she picked the same chic, fancy cat as her big sister) and a new water bottle for school. She held my hand in the parking lot, even though she usually likes to show me she can “be safe” now. She sat in the cart and talked to me about why we were getting things and “Mom, mom, mom, remember the time when . . .”
I worked during her rest, and then when she got up I didn’t try to write one more page or check one more note. We packed cheese and crackers, hummus and pita, and walked down to the playground.
“Slow down,” she reminded me. “I have little legs, remember?”
I pushed her on the swing—a big push!—and sat on the rough boards of the tiny climbing structure while she pretended to drive the ship north, then south. She held my hand again on the long way home. After dinner, she climbed into my lap, and I held her warm body that is getting so long, feet getting so big. My face rested against her head which for once doesn’t smell like old sweat. I held her close.
“I don’t like hugs, remember?” she told me.
“I forgot,” I said, squeezing her again.
“Mom, stop!” she demands, a half-fake frown on her face.
And I do. “But I like hugs, I tell her.” She throws her arms around my neck, locks them tight and gives me a dramatic kiss. My big girl is more likely to tell me she loves me, but the little one sustains me with her super hugs (and one arm hugs and two arm hugs . . . she’s created a whole series of styles).
Yesterday afternoon, we got in the car to pick up her big sister. We hadn’t been driving long when I heard the slow rhythmic suck of her thumb, and then looking back, I saw the red hair blown about her face, head drooping. We got there early, and she slept on, mouth open slightly.
On the way home, my girls called each other names and kicked at each other. There was much pouting and whining about wanting to see Roscoe right NOW! I could feel the overtiredness that would color our night.
As I brushed my big girl’s newly shoulder-length hair and felt her lean into me during stories, I kept thinking, “I’m glad you’re home.” And as I rocked her and assured her that she would have “alone time” tomorrow, but not now at bed time, I told her “I’m glad you’re home.” And I was, even as I took deep breaths to calm us both down, even as I willed her to settle into the sleep she needed.
Tomorrow, we have bags to unpack and things to show and stories to tell. She needs alone time and down time. We’re not going any where. We don’t have plans to do anything. And as I think ahead to Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the plans that jammed up against each other suddenly, I try to rearrange the pieces, figure out what we can skip or reschedule. We both need it.
Write with Me:
Start with a phrase. Use slow down or a phrase that’s been rolling around in your head. Try repeating the phrase. What images or memories does it evoke? Or take the phrase slow down literally. Write about what you notice if you slow down.
Share your writing in the comments, add a link to your blog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get another writing starter—Summer Stories in 5 Minutes.