I used to be one of those people who liked to do things fast. I walked down the street fast, I zoomed through novels and when I was slinging coffees at Tim’s as a teenager or answering phones in my early 20’s, I did my job fast too. Doing things quickly put me in “the zone” where my body went on autopilot and my mind was free to wander. When I went to a doctor’s appointment last week I noticed that she was fast. She zipped through a battery of tests lickety split and I was outta there. She was measured and careful, but highly efficient and didn’t waste any time.
The first time I realized that having a baby was going to slow me down I was working as a baker at a health food restaurant/shop, and had accepted the job in the two week period between conception and a positive pregnancy test. When I discovered I was pregnant I figured I’d just keep working as long as I felt comfortable. After all, I was young and fit and healthy, and all the books said that it was just a myth that lifting heavy things was dangerous for the baby. That turned out to be mostly true: I didn’t have a problem with lifting the heavy mixing bowls or trays of bread pans until my belly started to poke out in the way. What got me was being slow.
The exhaustion and physical slowness of pregnancy was only a hint of the slowness to come. Caring for a young baby meant that I was slow to leave the house, had to stop to breastfeed and change diapers frequently, and I could no longer stay out all day. That was back when I could still walk at adult pace with my baby in the stroller or wrap. Now that I have a preschooler walking and a baby in the stroller, we’re not walking at adult pace anymore. We are stopping to watch slugs eat dandelion flowers and collect daisies and count pine cones and watch the workers repaving the street. We drag our feet on the way home and get distracted on our way out. We’re definitely not fast.
Now, taking life slowly is one of the joys of living with and raising young children, if you can manage to relax into it and enjoy it for what it is. Sometimes this is still a struggle for me, and I get frustrated by simply wanting to get from point A to point B without a million detours and distractions en route. I get annoyed when I notice slowness and inefficiency seeping into other areas of my life, especially when I’m slow not because I’m waiting for a child but because I’m simply not concentrating on what I’m doing. But I’d say that I’ve accepted the slowness pretty well. A slow life allows my kids to have lots of time for free, creative play. We don’t usually get overscheduled. Being slow means that I don’t expect to rush around all day and then fling a meal together in ten minutes anymore, and I appreciate that. I can plan to walk with my kids at a leisurely pace, and I get my fix for fast, high energy movement by going to a Zumba class once a week. (OMG! so much fun!) I wonder, though, what the transition back into fast will look like when I eventually get to that point in my life. What if I like the slow life so much that I don’t want to go back to being fast?