The rising sun casts a coppery glow on my 19-month-old’s hair. We’re sharing the kind of quiet that feels so precious now that first tantrums have hit and nursing sessions that look like Cirque du Soleil auditions.
It’s the day before big sister starts first grade. She’s the one who taught me that stillness is a virtue that’s of little interest to children. Both girls have helped me realize that I require much more quiet and stillness than the average business-owning-mama-of-two is likely to enjoy.
But this particular morning, we’re sharing the quiet of dawn. Through the upstairs window, we see a doe pick her way across the lawn. Though I want to get lost in the idyllic peace of the moment, the crisscross pattern of the screen keeps distracting me.
I need to shift my gaze constantly to really see the motionless deer whose vast dark eyes are locked with my daughter’s baby blues. Sigh.
I’m grateful that my eyes are such marvelous machines and all that, but I really don’t need to hear Grover in my head hollering “near!” and “far!” as I try to see the pretty animal. This is supposed to be about sharing a tranquil moment when no one is fighting her sister to sit in my lap, not Sesame Street PTSD.
Eventually, of course, my girl bangs on the window. The deer startles. I can see the white flag of her swift retreat just fine.
Kids are nothing like deer… but they’re still a form of wildlife
When the eyes and brain are focused on movement, little details like an obscuring window screen just disappear. Distraction and annoyance melts away. I’m totally caught up in the story and the glory of this wild creature’s race to her place in the forest.
It’s exactly the same when I watch my girls – well, almost. Kids aren’t supposed to be like deer, all stillness and flight and silence, after all.
But I know that when I stare too hard at my kids, I stop seeing them.
When I try to freeze them in a certain pose or phase, I only notice my expectations, not their reality.
When I try to stop time or stem their rising spirits, I end up blinding myself.
And when I deny my children’s wildness, I completely lose track of everything in the impossible bid to control them.
Let the movement move you (it’s inevitably moving your kids, after all)
Kids have the kind of beauty that moves.*
It’s only possible to soak up all that gorgeousness when you focus on the movement, embrace the movement, and let that movement move you.
Yes, it’s dizzying. Yes, it’s often completely counter to those careful plans you made. Yes, there will be a huge mess to clean up at the end.
Trust that there will be a few moments of stillness now, beautiful oases in the midst of the wildness.
And trust that there will come a time when the deer will wander off in slow silence, barely moving enough to be seen through the screen. There won’t always be someone there to scare the deer away with their laughter – and the sonic booms of their sticky hands on the glass.
Don’t carpe diem it. Move with it.
This isn’t some carpe diem post – you and I both know this is the longest shortest time and is too sweet to taste much of the time.
Instead, it’s an invitation to remember how important it is to move. And even if it’s impossible for you because you’re trapped under a latched-for-dear-life infant or because your body is fighting its own battle, be a witness and a champion of your children’s movement.
Let their movement be equally as important as your own stillness. Let their movement be 100% more important than the screens and distractions that get in the way.
* All gratitude to Ani DiFranco and her song “Evolve” for that line.