Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Day I Started Saying "Screw It."

The Day I Started Saying "Screw It."

There is a beautifully-written article that is shooting through the internets like a Lichtenberg Figure right now. It may have just changed the way I live my life.  

Rachel Macy Stafford's piece "The Day I Stopped Saying 'Hurry Up'" details how this mother learned to stop rushing her children and began to take time to love them. I was in awe of the article. It was beautiful. It made me want to change the way I parented. 

I looked over to my children who read quietly on the couch beside me on a languid and lazy Saturday afternoon. "Listen up, children," I said. "We will no longer hurry though each day and begin to savor the moments." 

My declaration was met with sardonic faces. I continued in my appeal. "I am guilty of constantly telling you to hurry up, and I'm sorry. From now on we will s-a-v-o-r our precious time together without rushing." 
"And I just want you to know, children, that I love you. Terribly." 

Monday morning arrived like a bee sting. I was determined not to rush the children. Instead of waking the kids to a pots and pans heavy metal symphony like I usually do, I opened the doors to their bedrooms and sang a sun-drenched, honey-sweet song to gently nudge them from bed.

Twenty five minutes later, my voice had all but developed botulism. I crept into my daughter's room and sang, "My darling daughter, the sun is up and it's a beautiful day! How about joining me in celebration?"
My nearly-comatose tweenaged daughter raised a drowsy finger to her drool-crusted lips and  said, "shhhh...I'm sav-or-ing my eyelids." 

Over the next three days I, along with my frenemy and annoying bedfellow Reality, made some rather interesting discoveries.

For starters, those parents who avoid the words "hurry up" probably have more than one bathroom. I learned this as I watched my seven year-old son dancing the watusi in front of the bathroom door while my daughter dawdled. Two minutes later I found my son ankle-deep in pajamas on the front porch watering the weeds below. "Don't worry! No rush! I've got it handled!" he assured me.

My neighbors were assured as well.

And next,  the unrushed parent has probably yet to experience adolescence. In our unrushing, my daughter spent half a day looking into the mirror, staring at the wall/computer/world outside all without actually leaving the comfort of the couch.

On the third day of unrushing, I took a look around my home. Stacked dishes resembled high-rises and the glasses sprouted food-encrusted utensils. Laundry Island, a large, migratory mass of washed or unwashed clothes, had run ashore and exploded all over the living room. I found my near-sleeping son under some fractured peninsula of towels. He was drowsily eating a jelly-drenched sock.

This was the moment that I cracked.
"Alright, everybody stop savoring your life and get your chores done now or I'll...."
Threats ensued. Birthdays were taken away. Dishes were cleaned in a timely manner.

In a perfect world, we would not rush. In a perfect world, size-8 jeans would never need washing and would actually fit. In a perfect world, the house would clean itself, heat itself and pay for itself as well. This is not a perfect world. We do not live in perfection. We live in squalid, cacophonous chaos, friends.
And on these days, sometimes we just need to say, "Screw it. I'm not a perfect parent. Now get your act together, kids. We are late. Again."

But there is a silver lining of consolation. It takes this deadline-driven existence for us to appreciate those days when we can sit back and watch the world pass by. Sometimes it takes saying "screw it" to release yourself from the stressful hell of unrushing to really sit back and enjoy this crazy life.

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