Sometimes I feel like I forget to slow down and instead I simply go through the motions to survive each part of my day. Get out of bed, get ready for work, get the kids ready, rush out of the house, race to my mom’s house to drop off the kids, drive to work, teach all day, pick up the kids, figure out dinner, change a few diapers, give the kids a bath, pajamas, books, prayers, bedtime, and repeat. I never really remind myself to slow down or to stop and enjoy a few of the smaller moments in my day.
Sometimes, I get reminders though. Usually when I am least expecting them.
Almost all family outings, even just trips to the grocery store, are typically kicked off with my husband and I asking each other about the contents of the diaper bag while putting coats on the kids and tying little shoe laces.
“Did you grab the sippy cup?”
“Are there diapers in there?”
“Have you seen the pacifier?”
“Where is my wallet?”
By the time we get the kids in their car seats and plop the overflowing diaper bag in the car, there is habitually just enough time for one of us to run back in the house to get the final must-have-item that we almost forgot. And we are off.
My husband and I started incorporating trips to Starbucks so that we can enjoy just a few sips of something delicious during our car rides. Neither one of us were coffee drinkers before the kids. My husband now takes a dark coffee with no cream or sugar as often as he can get his hands on one and I savor every drop of my nonfat, no whipped, chocolate-drizzle-please, hot chocolate. Because our patience is usually running thin by the time we arrive at the local Starbucks, my husband opts to park the car and go in to place our order rather than waiting in the drive thru which is almost always about 15 cars deep.
This weekend, we stopped at Starbucks for a morning treat before heading to the pumpkin patch. When my husband began unfastening his seatbelt, my two year daughter repeated “Baba, Baba, Baba” (Baba is a Greek word for daddy). My husband and I were rearranging the contents of the diaper bag to uncover his wallet which was thrown in there during the rush to get out of the house. As we continued to search, my daughter continued to demand my husband’s attention with each “Baba” sounding a little more panicked and urgent. Finally, she stopped and pleaded “Baba, talk to me!” After my husband and I exchanged a quick glance, he gave my daughter his full attention with his sincerest of apologies. She just wanted to know if she could go into the Starbucks with him.
As the two passed the front of my vehicle, hand in hand, my daughter looked back at me and waved to me with her chubby little hand and shot me her biggest, proudest smile because she was going to get to help her Baba. And that is all she wanted. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but feel my own biggest, proudest smile creep across my face.
I don’t know how long I sat there smiling and staring at the door they had just disappeared through. My life slowed down for a split second right there and then. Just that smile. Just that wave. Just that voice. It was all I needed to stop and smile and slow down to just sit and love her. My gaze was broken as I heard a faint “Mama” called from the backseat. I looked back to find my beautiful baby boy turning his head as far as he could to see me from his rear facing car seat. That smile. That voice. That sweet, little face. I felt myself take the first and possibly last deep breath of the day.
My kids remind me to slow down when I feel like I’m spinning and they don’t even know they are doing it. It is funny to me because they seem to cause all of the chaos in my life and they are exactly what I need to feel so peaceful.
The car ride continued after my loves returned with our warm, delicious drinks. The chaos returned as well and we went through the motions of the rest of our day. But that wave and her smile and his sweet voice calling for me lingered.