I recently stumbled across an article, “The benefits of slow parenting,” that really resonated with me. Based on its Facebook mileage, I wasn’t the only one. (P.S.: Cup of Jo covered this beautifully.)
Slow parenting promotes the radical idea that connectedness is more important than a to-do list, and that lifetimes of joy and love are measured in moments shared, not milestones met. Sound familiar? Yeah. Me, too. “Harried parents want more quality time with their families,” is not a new theme. This tune has been sung before. Why was this article any different?
That’s just it. It wasn’t. And neither was I. I’ve read dozens of those articles and books about how to become a creative family, why we need to get outside more, why we need to roughhouse. “Put away your smartphones.” Maybe after I finish and share this post. “Print these great conversation starters and use them at dinner time.” Sure thing, but I’d better run to the store for ink. Maybe a mason jar with some ribbon… You get the idea.
I was clearly addicted to an ideal that I just couldn’t execute. Do I even know how? Have I ever even tried? Really? If I’m being honest, the idea of sitting on the floor and playing with cars or Batman figures for an hour might kill me (at least on the inside). Why is that?
Maybe I don’t know how to slow down.
Maybe I’m lazy.
Maybe I just want more me-time.
Maybe I’m just a bad mom.
Maybe society’s expectations are just too steep.
And then it struck me: Who the hell is running this show? Pinterest? Those authors with fancy credentials? The parenting blogosphere? I certainly wasn’t. Maybe that’s the problem.
So I added a few more maybes to my list:
Maybe it’s time to flip this whole thing on its head.
Maybe the world won’t end if my conversation jar becomes a wine glass.
Maybe I’ll let the kids watch a movie today.
Maybe we could watch it together.
I went rogue. Full-on existential. Selfish, even. I thought about what I want–not what I think I’m supposed want. What I love. I love painting. I love hiking at night and that creepy feeling I get when I’m in the wild, staring into blackness, wondering what might be staring back. I love feeling connected with my family, but I also love being in touch with me. Admitting that changed everything.
This week has been a week of rule-breaking. We snuggled and watched movies. Two in a row, actually, and it was awesome. We splashed in some puddles. We painted. We ditched Elizabeth Mitchell and danced to “Walk Like an Egyptian” like it was 1987. It was glorious, and not just because it was fun. It was glorious because *fun* is apparently the key to finding my inner “slow” parent. When I take care of me, Batman and I can hang for a solid 30 minutes. (Baby steps.) I discovered like teaching my kids how to watercolor. How to garden. How to take a good photo. Not because it’s educational (though that’s a nice touch), but because it’s something I like to do. It’s even better when I can share it with those I love. The more I shared, the more they opened up.
The secret to bliss was rebelling against “ideal” and bringing my kids along for the ride. It was meeting in the middle. It was keepin’ it real. Being authentic. Being me.
The best part? Me is exactly who my kids wanted all along.