It all started a few weeks ago when I woke up on a Monday morning feeling sick. If you’re a mother of little ones you’ll know all too well the next thought that ran through my head, which went something like this: Nooooo, not today. Not on a day when my kids are home with me ALL day. Not the day I’ve got to drag us all to swimming lessons. Today I cannot be sick…Bleck, but I feel so gross. Argghh! This can’t be happening.
And then a little miracle occurred. The kind of thing where, afterwards, you get this soft ripple of knowing deep down in your soul that whispers the words You are loved. You are taken care of. Everything is going to be okay. Because that morning my mother called. “Can I hang out with your boys today?” She asks.
The boys left for Nana’s house and I headed to the living room couch, blanket and book in hand. And what started out as an achey, dizzy sort of day turned out to be one of the most pleasant days in my recent memory. I stayed on that couch for the entire day, marvelling at the silence of this house that is usually filled with the noise of two energetic boys. Every creak in the floors had me thinking it was one of the kids coming to ask me for something, and my heart would sink a moment, but then I’d remember it was only me home. All day I heard the birds chirping outside, and I watched each gradual transformation of the sky outside my window — from blue and clear in the morning, to cloudy and grey in the afternoon, to a satiny purple at dusk. As the sun set I watched it’s light cascade like a waterfall across the golden maple leaves in my neighbour’s yard.
I couldn’t believe how much happiness a sick day could bring me. I need more of this in my life, I thought. The nausea I could bid farewell to, but it was the slowness I was so very much enjoying. That’s what I wanted to keep. I wondered, what can I take from today that can be carried into tomorrow, and the next day, and the next?
“What is the thing in your life you’ve been enjoying most lately?” My mother is asking me this, as we watch my toddler crawl through a toy tunnel in her basement, giggling to himself as he makes his way from one side to another. Her question has me tongue-tied. Why can’t I think of something? I try to recollect the events of my past week as if they’re neatly tucked away in some filing cabinet in my brain, but what I find instead is an undeveloped Polaroid picture. One I’ve snapped but the image just isn’t becoming clear. And it’s not that my life is horrible right now, its pretty good actually. There’s just nothing standing out at the moment my mom asks me this question. All I can come up with is “Ummm…well, I liked blow-drying the boy’s hair last night after their bath.”
We both laugh.
Really, Andrea, a HAIR dryer? Is this really the only thing you can come up with? Has your life really become this lame?
But I know there’s more to it than just a hair dryer and a couple of boys standing in footed pajamas with wet hair. And I know it’s not because my life is lame. In fact, I feel very much the opposite.
After I think about it for a while, I realize that this memory pops into my head and out of my mouth because it’s real. And in that moment of blow-drying my kid’s hair, there was real joy, real peace, and real love. These are the things I hang onto. It is moments like these where I am practicing the art of slow living — being in one place with both feet planted, doing the one thing that is in front of me to do, and paying attention. I’m looking at my hands as they run through the brown silky curls on top of my son’s head. I’m watching their cute faces squeeze into silly grins as the hot air whooshes around them. I am fully there. Fully alive. I’m not rushing to get a million and one things done. I don’t have one eye on them and one on my phone. I’m seeing it all — the beautiful truth of it all.
I want to practice this wherever I go. Whether I am watching a show with my husband, sitting across a table from a friend, chopping the vegetables for supper, I want to be all in. For me, this is the art of slowing down. Of settling into a moment. Of noticing what’s there.
For years I thought I was a multi-tasker. A productivity machine. A master of efficiency. Give me all the jobs and I’ll find a way to do them all at once. But lately I have been learning that I am not these things. I lose focus, get frazzled, my joy gets squashed like someone is stepping on it with a big heavy work boot. I am better at doing one thing at a time, and I am so much happier when I do this.
In that slow, grounded place (when I find it) I can see the beauty in the person in front of me more clearly. The light in me burns brighter, too. Inspiration finds me in this place, and I can hear Love speak.
This is what I am enjoying most in my life right now. Let it not be saved for just the sick days, but be carried into every day.