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My Kids have Slowed Me Down

In the darkest days of winter, I undertook the planning for my upcoming garden. Then, plan in hand, I went into the greenhouse and began seeding and propagating. As of this week, most of my flower gardens have been filled with young plants, the dahlia tubers are all in the ground, the perennials are growing strong. In the raised vegetable beds, almost all seeds have been planted, seed potatoes are in, and transplants such as cucumbers and celery have been moved to their permanent homes.

There were many busy days, when I wished I had more time and some days where I felt overwhelmed by competing timing and had to decide on which plants and tasks to prioritize.

But that is all done now. Of course, I will still take small steps to nurture plants along, make sure everyone is getting enough water, and there is always more mulch to apply. But for the most part, I am at the wait and see phase.

I can't push the plants to grow any faster than they will. I can't will them into blooming ahead of their own schedule. I have to slow down and wait.

The number one complaint I receive about myself from others is that I go too fast: I talk too fast, I walk too fast, my mind goes too fast. I know these criticisms are valid. I am guilty of all of the above.

I want to get through hard times fast. Facing an obstacle in myself: let's figure this out IMMEDIATELY and make every necessary change, RIGHT NOW. Grief: I am going to get through the fire of this grief as FAST as I possibly can. I am not going to be feeling this way six months from now, no way! Work problem arises: let's drop everything else and sort this out NOW. Then can return to a smooth flow RIGHT AWAY. My thoughts are always hurdling ahead, five steps ahead of me. There is so much I want to get done, and I know that there can't possibly be enough time to do it all. So, I want to go as fast as I can, in hope that I can somehow fit it all in. I know this can make me difficult to be around.

I loved having babies. I loved the newborn stage and all the early months. I was tired but also felt in my element when my kids were young. I was madly in love and this propelled me always. I felt a bit crazy when I was around those who did not have young kids, but really confident when I was with people immersed in the same stage as me. However, there was that slow part.

Life with young children is so slow. Young kids are constantly making demands. There is so much to do that a young mother wants sometimes to take a quick break, sit down, have a cup of tea. But it doesn't go quite that way. A mother sits down for a second , her child falls asleep in her arms, and the mum doesn't dare move or else her little one will wake up. So there she sits, slowly doing nothing. No mug of coffee, no book to devour, nothing to do but stare off in space and notice that the windows need to be cleaned and that the pile of clean laundry across the room is unreachable.

Before having children, I fantasized about taking my kids for walks. The reality is that they take us for walks. I admire all the parents who sincerely rave about how great it is to see the world in new ways and to notice all the miniscule details they passed by before baby came along. I really wanted to feel like that. But this way of moving was, very often, painfully slow for me. I did love seeing my children's excitement at new sights. There were many times when because of their joy, I felt a form of maternal ecstasy. This ecstasy would happen mid-stroke. Parenting my young children continually swung back and forth between all encompassing work of caregiving and extreme boredom that could only be staved off by discretely stuffing my mouth with too much chocolate.

I think the slowness, forced on me by boredom, has a made me a richer person. I know there are ways in which I am now able to slow down and happily lower my expectations. When my daughter was young, before she could walk, we spent most of our time together with her on my body, in the carrier. We would be in the backyard together. I would spy a job that needed to be done in the garden. A job that, more truthfully, I desperately wanted to do rather than needed to do. As much as I love snuggles, I didn’t want to sit around only cuddling. I wanted to move and get things done. Every time I bent over to dig in the earth, pull a weed, plant some seeds, my daughter would start screaming. I tried putting her in the baby tent, so I could steal some moments in the garden. Left alone, even within my view, she would scream. There was nothing I could do but watch the weeds in my garden grow, and see my harvest die out before I could get to it.

I had to sacrifice.

I became a mother late in life. I knew it was time to commence motherhood because I knew that I needed to learn to be less selfish, and that without sacrificing to children this would never happen for me. I needed to have this obligatory sacrifice forced into my daily life. We can never imagine what parenthood will be like before it happens. I would love to say that being a mother has made me more patient. Unfortunately, I think the reverse has happened. But I have, in actuality, become far less selfish. It is the slowness of the experience that has made this happen.

And so, bringing it all back to my garden, finally I can sit, and look, and enjoy. Finally I don't see the next job while I gaze out over my garden. I don’t always feel compelled to jump back up the moment after sitting in my garden chair. I used to be so over-full of anticipation of what was to come next. At some point I realized that I liked the idea of a bud opening to bloom much more than I appreciated the flower itself. By the time the blossom appeared, I was already out of there, onto the next thing.

My children have given me the gift of being able to stay still, to sit and observe. To take in the beauty around me. I guess those long, somewhat tedious walks were more successful than I realized. I have taken care of my children's every need, and in return I have learned to be in the world in a whole new way. I can finally stop to smell the roses - or at this moment, that one tulip in my garden that smells like an icecream sundae. This really did sneak up on me while I was busy doing something else!

Of Note this Week

  • My Geum are blooming away. If you don't know this perennial plant already, check it out. A new old-fashioned favourite of mine.

  • I finally photographed all of my current cloth napkins and put them up at Slow Botanicals. These are available online and at International Marketplace, and of course directly from me :)

  • I am still taking orders for Mother's Day Gift Baskets

All my best, Chwynyn


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