My friend Jerry told me something that I’ve never forgotten, “We need to learn to walk through this life very slowly, because it moves so very fast.”
I think this is especially true with parenting. How many times have we heard “oh I wish that time would slow down!” when someone is talking about their baby growing up. I don’t think it’s true that we want children to stay children, but I think what we’re asking for is to enjoy our time with them more. This can be difficult especially during the stressful moments. It’s easy to enjoy the fun and happy times, but enjoyment goes out the window when meltdowns happen. Being mindful of the moment is usually the last thing we are thinking about. It’s uncomfortable when we experience a meltdown, either with our kids or ourselves. Rather than experiencing the moment, all we want to do is speed through it, get over it, forget it and basically never experience it again. Who wants to slow down when we feel so terrible.
Aristotle said, "To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold." This goes along with parenting also. In order for us to really see and love our children, we have to experience the meltdown to a certain degree. We should not wish it away or ignore it.
So what do we do? This is where the mindfulness comes in. We slow down. We step back. We begin to pay attention, non-judgmentally to the present moment. Maybe we can look at it from a different viewpoint. Maybe we can see the meltdown from our child’s view.
I heard this great story on a Ted talk the other day about a dad taking his toddler to a dance class. His little girl would not get in the car no matter how hard he tried. They were late for the class and the dad was getting very frustrated. The daughter kept crying and saying something over and over. Finally, the dad took a moment to breathe and stepped back to look at it from his daughter’s viewpoint. The daughter was saying “feed the birds, feed the birds!” After the dad slowed down and listened to what his daughter said, he reached into the car seat and got a bag of Cheerios for his daughter. She spread them on the grass and then ran and got in her car seat. The meltdown was over and both dad and daughter learned a great lesson. The dad learned that there is always time to listen to his daughter and the daughter learned that her dad listens to her.
So it’s not so much about slowing time down so our kids will stay little, it’s about slowing time down so we can enjoy it and actually be with each other when we are together.