Do you remember when the children would line up in a row and follow you into the grocery store? How the produce guy always laughed and called you "Mama Duck," even though it made you groan? Those were the days. There was always one kid straggling behind, fingering a box of cookies or a stack of bananas, his intent little face curious, his bright eyes wide with the possibilities. Remember how that made you crazy?
"Hurry up!" you'd say over your shoulder when you saw him stop and bend down. You'd keep on walking straight ahead and the straggler would see your retreating back and the line of his siblings moving away and he'd run to catch up. You were efficient, no doubt about it.
You were always one for pushing forward. Couldn't wait to get out of junior high, couldn't wait to be done with high school, couldn't wait to get married, to have a baby, to get them out of diapers, to quit having to buckle up car seats, to have a clean house, to not have to go to so many soccer practices, to have a quiet dinner for once. You pushed your way through so much time...so much time.
But let's be honest, life didn't let you get away with all that hurry-up-efficiency for long, did it? You learned, you really did. You saw the way the years were beginning to spin and you paid attention. You found out the hard way that the good times - when all your ducks were in a smiling row - were going to slip away from you like whispers, but the bad times, oh they would stretch and pull and make you ache with the weight of every hour. So you learned: slow it all down, make the margins wider, enter into the sacred everyday, take nothing for granted.
And you learned to quit filling up what peaceful days there were with tasks and lists and have-to's. (Remember how you filled them up because you didn't know when the next crisis was going to hit and you just had so much to do?) No, you learned to linger in the peaceful days: make another pot of tea, pull the book off the shelf and read, play one more round of gin rummy, make a pan of brownies. The house stayed unpainted, the garden stayed unweeded, you didn't write a book or join any committees. When people asked what you did with yourself all day you didn't know what to say; nothing could be measured. You were just...at rest.
The next crisis came and the next and there were times you felt so inept and such a mess.
But most of all you felt quiet inside, and safe. You were done with all that hurrying.
Eventually, you learned you could make quiet spaces in the hard days too, carving out tiny moments to sit at the table and let the memory of those peaceful hours inspire you, strengthen you. One day, you thought, nothing will shake me. And even though increasingly, your life could not be controlled - it lashed about and roared like a hurricane - you just went on making beautiful moments, lighting candles, buying flowers, dressing up, writing letters, making meals, making love (in all its forms), reading poetry, taking pictures, creating memories.
It's sheer defiance, you told a friend.
And it was.
Good for you, girl, good for you.
Some unhurried moments from this week: