no faschnauts . . . Wegmans . . . slow enough

The week before last, I had high hopes for Fat Tuesday. I wanted to enjoy our traditional faschnauts with friends. On Monday, I discovered the local German restaurant wasn't making them this year (?!?!?!), so I was going to make some. But over the weekend, the van door decided it didn't want to open, so that had to be fixed. So Fat Tuesday fachnauht plans with friends fell to the wayside (I canceled them), and we spent Tuesday morning at Wegmans instead while the dealership across the street fixed the van.

Our trip to Wegmans may have been one of the best adventures I've given my kids. Not because Wegmans is so educational and entertaining but because I learned a multitude of things about parenting while wandering Wegmans with my toddlers.

When we "run errands," I often have roughly calculated what the girls can handle, which stores, when to go, snacks to bring, etc. They only last so long, and I don't want to push them beyond their capacity.

When we went to Wegmans, I had no list and no agenda. My goal was to fill the space of time (two hours? three hours?) we had to wait for our van to be repaired in such a way that my toddlers would not lose their cool out in public. So instead of our typical errand running where I set the pace and direct the flow, I followed them. If they wanted to get out of the cart car and look at something, they did. If they wanted to move on to another section, they did. Granted, sometimes we had to inform the other girl that we'd be moving along, but the two of them ran the show.

My girls actually like grocery shopping. Of course, so do I, so that probably has something to do with it. Nonetheless, I realized how quickly I whiz through the grocery store normally compared to how  s l o w l y  we wandered through Wegmans that Tuesday.

I thought about this as the girls chowed down on bananas and chocolate milk in the balcony cafe at Wegmans, watching the hustling and bustling of the shoppers below. It must be overstimulating and frustrating to whip around Target in a shopping cart when colors and textures and shapes and lights are flying by all around you. I realize that some people love to shop, but I often find myself tired and overstimulated after visiting two or three stores at the mall. I can only imagine how exhausted my girls must feel after our typical tornado run through Target. As they've gotten older, they often ask to get out of the shopping cart and walk. When they walk, our trip becomes considerably longer. I know I label their pace as dawdling and distracted when I allow them to stop and admire the rooster silhouette on the Archer Farms brand of foods at Target. But maybe they're just normal? They haven't been conditioned to live life at supersonic speed - yet.

Our pace as a culture is so hectic and crazy. We race all over. We put our kids in strollers and shopping carts until they're ten because we think they walk too slow. We hurry here and there, rushing to get home before naps happen in the car instead of in bed.

Interestingly enough, on this Tuesday, I was also behind on my reading of Mama:Monk. Micha wrote this post on Monday, but I didn't read it until Tuesday afternoon when Leah left me this message: "Did you read Mama:Monk yesterday? It was about slowing down, and it reminded me of you canceling faschnauts and just not trying to do it all. It's good."

So I read Mama:Monk's post from February 11th, and here's an excerpt:

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Sometimes it feels like everything in this world is asking me: Are you fast enough? Are you fast enough to play with your kids AND keep your house tidy? Are you fast enough to serve your family and your community? Are you fast enough to be an interesting person and good friend? Can you pile enough into your life without collapsing under it, without dropping all you’re balancing all over the floor?

But what would alter if we shifted the question? What if we began asking one other if we are living slow enough? Have you been slow enough to savor? Have you been slow enough to play hard and laugh big? Have you been slow enough to stop and sit awhile? Have you been slow enough to say hello to the neighbor? Have you been slow enough to be thankful? . . .

We are shaped by a world moving fast beside us. But when we look up, the clouds are floating with deliberate, careful force. Maybe we were made for that good gentle pace. Maybe we were made for long looks and real conversations.

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I want and need to slow down and follow my girls more. I'm not suggesting that I will now be drastically late to everything, but I am challenging myself to leave time for my daughters to lead and wander and learn in our daily routines of grocery shopping, laundering clothes, cooking dinner, reading books, and playing together. I hope I will learn, too, as they teach and remind me to live life in that "good, gentle pace" [of] "long looks and real conversations."