17 December 2009

Slow down, you move too fast..

I wasn't really reading the NY Times in April - I was navigating those first blissful and hazy weeks of new motherhood. So it is no surprise that I missed this article/conversation with Carl Honore, author of Under Pressure, a book about what has been termed the "slow parenting" movement.

And really, the article is worth reading and I hope the book is worth reading too, as I just placed it in my shopping cart - Christmas present to myself.

This is a topic I think about everyday - everyday as I watch the nugget navigate his world and then watch how I react to him. As he has gotten more capable, I have wanted to become more capable - more productive, more efficient, more like the old me. But the old me didn't have a little side kick. So there is no old me to go back to. So when I drag him around - to get groceries at Trader Joes, ink cartridges at OfficeDepot and vegetables at Rainbow - and he at some point breaks down in the basket of yet another shopping cart, I think to myself...what am I going so fast for? What does he need? And really, he just wants my attention. He wants me to stop and look at the ceiling fan that is spinning above. He wants me to stop and see the woman filling the bins with multi-colored grains. He wants me to stop and see what he is all seeing for the very first time. He wants me to see what I take for granted every day.

What I like about the author is that he defines slow parenting not as snails pace or slow pace, but the right pace. It doesn't mean being slow, it means choosing the right speed. The right speed for the place, the time, the location, the child, the situation. And knowing what pace to take means paying attention, lots of attention.

I have noticed lately how much I want to speed things up. I see toddlers with their trikes and think about which one to get for the nugget. Or Duplos or Brio or Playmobile. All those fun things in our future, but really, I still have a baby. A baby who sticks anything and everything into his mouth, who is just figuring how to scoot across the floor on his tummy and who is amazed when he can pull himself on anything that will hold his weight. That is where we are - that is where he is. There is nothing to push or hurry.

But we are in a forward thinking culture - better, bigger, faster. And we want to do what is best for our babies - give them the best, offer them the best, be the best, make them the best. But in this race, I think that we are forgetting to stop and reflect and then we say "I don't know where the time has gone." or "Enjoy this stage, because before you know it, they will be asking for the car keys." So obviously, time moves at its own momentum, without us pressing fast forward.

There is indeed a time to every purpose under heaven. For now, let them be babies. Let them need you. Let them sleep in the middle. Let them play longer. Let them be fascinated with ceiling fans.


  1. What occurs to me, now and then when we find that right pace, is that slowing it down is a gift to my boy and a gift to me. He's a new human and needs the time to discover and I rediscover the human I am under all the responsibilities and rushing.

    Thanks, Alex, for this. Do you have a link to the article?

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  3. What you wrote makes so much sense. I am always in a hurry and everything seems to happen so fast. I can hardly remember yesterday let alone months ago. I need to slow down. I am always looking to what will be and what I want. These are things I want not necessarily what I or my son even needs.

    Thanks for writing this and reminding me to slow down.