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Slowing Down

on Tue, 08/06/2013 - 14:14

    By: Julia Luckenbill

My daughter is an observer of small things.  She enjoys spending quality time at the park selecting just the right blade of grass to pick, and enjoys gazing up at the wind moving the trees.  

Her nine months alive have taught her a great deal about dogs, flowers, sand, soil and sticks.

I am generally on the go.  My partner labels me as “active.”   I worked full time up until labor started with my daughter, and tried to jump back in full tilt when maternity leave ended. 

I charged through the rest of the school year, grading, waking at dawn to pump milk, nursing while editing, and assessing others as my daughter played on a mat in my office and rested in an Ergo on my belly.  

And now there is summer.  Suddenly there is time to notice things with my daughter, to relish her first time at the beach, her first apricot, and her delight at learning to walk.  But it is so slow!
 
As I sit with her, my mind rushes back to the house without me.  I should be writing, I should be working on my students’ assignments for next year, I should be baby-proofing the house, I should arrange some sort of play-date… I wonder who has e-mailed…what’s in the news…
It’s hard to pull away from the screen and connect with my daughter.  It’s hard to slow down to her pace, rather than pack her into the car and drive off to the store.  But just for the moment, I decide to slow down.  I look at her and focus on her face, her hands, her delight in the small things. 
 
I reflect on her brain – making connections, referencing my responses to her discoveries.
 
At this moment she is learning to trust her world, and how she is treated now will frame how she expects to be treated as an adult.

I want her future partner, should she decide to have one, to meet her in joy, to connect, to communicate with her, and to admire the things she loves.  Showing her that she is worthy of this partner starts with me.      

The phone can wait.  The computer can wait. There will be time for them when she naps. I need my baby to learn how to form connections with people, not screens. That starts with me.  Being present and noticing.

 

Comments

Wow, Julia!  She's beautiful!  Congratulations!  I missed you at the Institute this year, but it looks like you spent your time well.  :)  Great article!

Hi I'm reading for Early Childohood Education at Ashworth College. Last week, I was studying the developmental theories. While reading your beautiful thoughts on her, I was connecting your experiences with Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Theory - the first developmental stage - (Trust vs. Mistrust). Your daughter is blessed to have a mother like you - an observer :)

Hi Julia, Thanks for sharing your experience with your beautiful child. Your story just reminds me of mine 24 years ago. My story happened at the different time and in a different country (taipei, Taiwan); however I had almost experienced the exact same feeling as your story. When my baby was 3 to 18 months old I wanted to concentrate and dedicate my time so much on building my career and organizing a perfect environment for my baby and didn't have any quiet moment. My time was never enough for me to finish what I needed to have things done. But one time when I took her out to the park and I observed her reaction to the small things as your observation on your daughter. That changed my life. On that moment I was deeply affected by her joyful expression in connecting her emotions to every small thing around her. My daughter is now a lovely teacher in an elementary school in downtown LA and she highly enjoys her moments with her naughty and non-resting students as well! :) Thanks for you awesome article! 

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