Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Art of Slowing Down

The other day, Bug and I took a walk up to the post office.

Our Ergo can keep going until he's 45 pounds!

He rode on my back on the way there, because sometimes wearing a toddler, even a 30+ pound toddler, is still easier than pushing a stroller. It was a cool morning (well, for San Diego, anyway), and it was nice to be able to revisit the days of having my son on my back, listening to him talk about anything and everything he saw. The walk there took about a half hour.

The walk home, on the other hand, took at least twice that long. Maybe three times as long. Not that I was watching the clock or anything.

Because Bug wanted to walk.

Being a mother has already taken me through many different stages during the three years since Bug's birth. There were the early days of motherhood, when baby just sleeps all the time and is nursing whenever not sleeping, but I didn't mind taking it easy and resting because I felt like a zombie most of the time from lack of sleep. There were the days when baby still slept a lot but I had finally started to adapt my own sleep schedule to his, the days when I was starting to feel somewhat human again, the days when I wanted to get out and walk around and could do so easily thanks to the magic of baby carriers. There were the days when I felt like I could never get anything done, because he wanted to crawl and explore his little world. There were the days when he started walking, which quickly turned into running, where we seemed to spend all of our time going to parks or the zoo or other places where But could get out and move.

And now? Now I'm learning how to slow down.

Walking with a toddler is a journey, that's for sure. There are times when it seems like Bug only has two speeds: running and sleeping. Even on simple walks up to the mailbox or laundry room, he will often run the entire way there, only slowing down or stopping when he gets to the parking lot (most of the time, anyway...) or if I ask him to (read: yell at him to). I often run with him because it's just the easiest way to make sure he doesn't get too far ahead of me; I have been known to joke that caring for a toddler can easily be a workout in itself, if you run when they run, jump when they jump, climb what they climb.

There are other times where we can't go for more than five steps before Bug stops to look at something: a "yucky" snail, a flower, a bee, a rock. Or maybe he's carrying one of his billions of little cars with him, and he stops so that he can drive it along a crack in the sidewalk or over a rock. Or maybe he wants to pick up a stick so that he can draw in the dirt, or a rock that he can gently toss in the bushes. Maybe he wants to dig his fingers into some sand.

Whatever it may be, sometimes it seems like our walks don't involve actually getting anywhere fast.


And that's exactly what it was like this particular day. After we left the post office, we stopped for tea for me (we needed to use the restroom, so obviously I had to buy something). And then we headed out. At first, Bug wanted to run, which was challenging since we were still in a parking lot. But once we got back out on the street, he stopped.

Bug spent a good, long time picking up rocks and throwing them into the bushes. Then he'd pick up a stick and wave it through the leaves of the nearby plants. Then he'd pick up some dirt and throw that; I'd tell him not to throw dirt, so the next handful would get lightly dusted across the bushes instead.

Then we'd take a few more steps, and Bug would find another likely pile of rocks, and he'd commence with tossing them into the bushes again. And he'd find more sticks. And then more rocks.

And on and on. And on.

At first, it really was an exercise in patience for me. I'd stand and wait, sip my tea, and then wait some more. Eventually I would urge him to keep going, but he always wanted to stop again. Get on with it! I wanted to say. I was tired. I was getting hungry for lunch. I was not quite caffeinated enough, despite the tea. We had a long walk ahead of us, and I just wanted to go.

But at some point, I really began to appreciate just watching him. How happily he was entertaining himself. (Aren't I always wishing he would play by himself a little bit more?) The big smiles, the giggles. (It's impossible to be in a bad mood when a baby or toddler is laughing!) His pride in being able to dig rocks out of the dirt, or in being able to throw them just a little bit further sometimes. His curiosity when he'd encounter something new, asking about different flowers or where a specific rock came from. The way he'd push his limits, going slightly up a hill or edging toward where the downhill slope started, looking back at me all the while to see how I'd react.

Honestly, toddlers are a riot. The endless babbling about everything, questions about things I haven't thought about in years, songs both identifiable and clearly made up. The way they explore everything, their burning need to understand how things work. The brilliant creativity, and the way their face just lights up when they've mastered something new.

Right now, though, this is one of my favorite parts of having a toddler. I love just watching the ways Bug chooses to interact with his world. And I'm making a conscious decision to try to let him do it his way as much as possible. There will certainly be times when we truly don't have time to play like this, but most of the time? Most of the time the need to rush is all in my head. Most of the time, we have plenty of time for this, for Bug to learn the way toddlers learn best: through play.

Most of the time, there is plenty of time to just slow down a little.


  1. Good for you for following your little one's lead and slowing down! That is such a hard thing to do, but it is something I am working on doing more. <3

    1. I struggle with this every day, it feels like. But it's easier when I can find enjoyment in his explorations. :)

  2. He doesn't have to "go somewhere" to explore! The world is all around! I love it!

    The other day Jakob wanted to drive his little tricycle car plastic thingy to the grocery store. At first I was thought umm no that'll be really slow and people will look at us weird. Then I thought, I don't really mind if it's slow since I'm not in a hurry, and who CARES if people look at us weird? They are strangers anyway! Ha ha. It took ages but it was so much fun and I loved it, so did he! !

    1. Yes, people probably did look at you weird. I imagine people look at us weird all the time, whenever we walk somewhere and Gregory isn't properly contained in a stroller. But who cares?!? They do love to explore!