Slowing down... It is by far the hardest part of motherhood for me.
Loving them unconditionally: check.
Being sleepless night after night: check.
Putting them ahead of all else: check.
Carrying them on my person and protecting them: check.
But slowing down? Oh my! That is hard, hard, hard for me. That means everything I have in my mind, my heart and body, for a project, ideal, or need, must wait. Wait until everyone is fed, cleaned, wiped, changed, nursed, played with, attended to, listened to, chatted with, role modeled, entertained, challenged, appreciated, understood, cared for, educated, and put to bed... And oh, then it begins again.
Every mom knows that sometimes the same cup of coffee waits all day to be had. Or three hours pass by before you know it, and you still have not peed. Or sometimes you just pee yourself a little (or a lot)! Aaaaah, don't make faces, you know it happened to you, and to me, and to every other mother out there, and maybe even to a few dads.
The good news is that it gets a bit better with the second child. You know what to expect, you are cool about the gas and the teething, you learn quickly what different little sounds mean. You take your time to actually go to the bathroom - get this - before you pee. The baby will be fine. She can wait for a minute or two. And life will go on.
BUT - and this is a big BUT - life is still S-l-o-o-o-o-w.
Everything I put my mind to takes about 4 times longer than before, if not 5 times or 10 times. Still, some things just don't get done. Even as a second time mom, I find myself overextending myself, trying to pretend I can accomplish things as if I were free as a bird. I end up running from my daughters to my projects in 5 minute intervals, diligently, and consistently, trying to do it all. Thankfully I have stamina, but I must confess sometimes it's exhausting.
Sometimes I wait for so long for both girls to be taken care of in all the ways possible just so that I can have that long-dreamed-of, uninterrupted 1 hour to myself. That means I can do anything I want. I mean anything!!!! Call a dear friend I miss, take a shower, start my next photography project, have breakfast, watch a training video, write thank you cards for our baby gifts, or read a book. Or paint that metal thingie I bought to build a studio prop, or make a few floral headbands, or a tulle skirt.
Just the thought of the alternatives is so exciting that I paralyze myself with the possibilities. I dilly dally. I go to the bathroom to pee - two times in a row. Brush my teeth. Make coffee. Check facebook. Oh my! I have TIME! And not one, but two free hands! I imagine myself hiking through the woods, climbing mountains, hanging off a cliff with my camera... For that one moment, the world is my oyster. In my imagination, I'm getting into new businesses, reaching out to old clients with thank you notes, vamping up my marketing to reach new clients who will love my photography, I write blogs and invent new set-ups. Just the thought feels good.
And then I... Take out my paints. Walk through the studio. Look through the tulle and the flower bunches I have. Pick up a ripe cucumber and an eggplant from the vegetable patch. Run inside to check on the baby. Watch the baby for 5 minutes in awe of her beauty. Check on my older daughter. Watch her play with her dolls and make a mess all over the kitchen floor with a bucket of water, glue and sand... I retouch one photo. Start a blog post. Share a thing or two on facebook. Take a sip of my coffee...
Just as I'm getting into it, I hear it.
The unique and determined little call from my baby, "WAA!"
It means "Mommy I'm awake. Your free time is over."
It also means "You are a blessed woman, and I'm here to remind you every day, many times, if you only take the time to slow down."
I put my coffee down and go to pick her up. Instead, I lie by her side, and... slow down.
I smell her head, feel her soft skin, and take in the grandeur of this tiny little miracle, who will soon not be this little any more.
Blessed I am. Slow down I do.