I’ve noticed something special about my husband since he became a dad 7.5 months ago: when he does things with and for our son, he does them with great care and attention.
He doesn’t just feed the baby; he makes meal time a party complete with sound effects and airplanes coming in for a landing. He doesn’t just change the baby’s diaper; he carefully stages the experience, sets out all of the supplies, plays with him and tickles him and pays attention to his needs.
He makes things FUN.
My Mom was (and still is) the same way. She took great pride in caring for my siblings and I, and she infused love and care and attention into everything she did. She would go out of her way to fold a blanket just so to make a sleeping baby as comfortable as possible, or spend extra care making a meal just the way we liked it. She has a special way of making things comfortable and cozy and inviting…and magical.
I, on the other hand, have realized that I have a terrible habit of doing things in a hurry.
I like to think I’m being efficient. “You can change a diaper in 1.5 minutes? I’ll see your 90 seconds and raise you 30 seconds! Bathtime? Bring it on: soap, suds, scrub, rinse. Repeat. Done! Tummy time? Git ‘er done!”
I’ve been in a hurry for as long as I can remember.
In middle school, a friend and I would race to see who could finish their math problems in class first. I once had a supervisor tell me that I do good work at the speed of light. I’ve always had an urgent desire to get things finished. Focus! Get things done! Simplify! Once everything is done, then we can finally rest. Except, of course, we can’t. There will always be more to do.
I’m realizing that motherhood is not a race.
The same drive and determination and speed that has served me well in school and at work all these years, is not really effective or desirable in raising children. Apparently this is more of a marathon; a slow, deliberate, painstaking but ultimately exhilarating marathon.
What is the point in racing through diaper changes and feedings and bath time? Those are the things that motherhood is made of. If I continue to hurry through those activities, I’ll soon look back and realize that I was wasting each precious moment with my baby in anticipation of some time in the future and I can never, ever get them back. Who ever looked back fondly on their childhood and thought “Wow! Mom was very efficient; she did everything in the least amount of time and with the minimal effort possible?”
Exactly nobody, ever.
I want my son to fondly remember us spending quality time just having fun; no deadlines, no agendas or to-dos. Just us, together. I want him to say “My Mom did everything with care. She paid attention to me and she made me feel loved and she made things special.”