Patience.

Is that a thing anymore?

From what I can tell, a simple four letter word rivaling the vehemence of an f-bomb has long since put a fork in the once beloved virtue. The one syllable term I’m referring to makes people’s skin crawl, incites rage, causes instant anxiety.

This four letter gem is SLOW.

When an instant everything culture vies for our attention from every dimension, the concept of waiting for something seems to get lost on many of us. Fast food, instant messaging, on demand movies, and streaming music represent only a few examples of immediate immediacy.

Comedian Pete Holmes quips, “The time between not knowing and knowing is so brief that knowing feels like not knowing. Listen to me: There was a time when if you didn’t know where Tom Petty was from, you just didn’t know.”

I can’t even.

In a culture of instant everything, how do we ingest a leisurely pace?

I’ve found my answer by spending time with my brother’s tribe of five kids from newborn to seven years-old. Two plus decades separate his kids and my young adult offspring, awarding me a fresh take on our Tasmanian world. Fast doesn’t exist in the dynamic of a young family of seven.

Observing my extended kiddos easygoing lifestyle helps me push a pause button on the world, giving carefree timelessness opportunity to float to the surface, even linger. The world of little peeps functions in a realm where slow is the new fast.

Back in the nineties I was able to turtle my way through parenting. All things speedy, quick, jiffy, and immediate had yet to shine their pearly whites and the dot-com vernacular was still incubating. Then the dung storm of instantaneous everything rolled in, skewing my equilibrium along with the times. Before I knew it, I was drinking the Kool-Aid of now.

An elixir which at times transforms me into the hangry jerk expecting her burger served in less than three minutes, the entitled brat demanding Siri understand precisely what I am asking the first time, the queen of sighs and bleepities while You Tube snail-processes my video, the freak in rush hour, and the fear monger expecting my kids to respond to texts yesterday.

slow traffic

Gimmie gimmie gimmie. Now please. And the nicety often times doesn’t even follow the demand.

Yet, in my brothers tiny tot kingdom there is no semblance of order or routine. Beautiful chaos stifles any inkling of immediacy in a family of seven.

Sleep? Not happening.

Hot meal? Maybe in ten years.

Long shower? Laughable.

And that’s just the parents. A sense of instant gratification is even further off the grid for the little tykes. I recently watched my brother engaging in a wrestling match with kid one and kid two, while protecting kid four from the barrage of flying limbs. Meanwhile, kid three sweetly chimed in the background, “Daddy, look what I did!” on repeat ten times over – a logistic my brother couldn’t even register on his radar.

While watching the drama play out I was struck first by the persistence of kid three, but then tenderized by his eventual giving up. When you exist in a chain of five, you aren’t always going to have a voice. And that’s not a bad thing. Lack of immediate affirmation can be a beautiful hardship. (Note to self.)

If we constantly go through life atop a float in the right away parade, we will never develop proper character. Or in my case, risk growing out of proper character.

Wisdom says we should find the joy, joy, joy, down in our heart even in exasperating Siri fails and cold Big Macs. Inconvenience produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

I like the hope thing. Hope trumps high blood pressure; waiting in a line for a bit or not getting a turn probably won’t kill me us.

My little nephew, bless his ignored soul, was fine. He wasn’t traumatized because his dad didn’t “look at what he did” right in that moment. Why? Kid three lives in a very loving family. Love flows downhill and has a way of filling in all the low places.

Anyone with me in thinking we need to allow our whine to breathe for a while? Perhaps exposing our edginess to the air for a time before serving it up in a goblet will help soften up our attitude and demeanor. God knows this world is in dire need of a more positive aroma.

Instant solutions to problems, quick fixes, immediate results, prompt responses, double time achievements, and spit second decisions don’t exist in a kid’s world. And last I checked they cope just fine.

Children are Gandhi-like mentors to us. Life for them is simple. They don’t need to call customer service and bitch up a storm about petty inconveniences or blast posts on social media touting the victimhood of delay. (I may or may not have done one and/or both of these actions)

Amen to little peeps and patient parents who raise them. We can honor their go-with-the-flow approach to life by putting a leg out on our go-cart of instant insanity and stop the madness. We pay too large a price to wither in imaginary urgency.

Oh, the peaceful places we could go if we slowed our roll.

Slow down, me crazy Mommas!

Shel Spear

 

 

 

 

Shelby is a Christian mom to three beautiful knuckleheads who have left her with an empty nest in which to ponder what the mom thing has (done to her) meant over the past twenty-three years. On her blog she shares with readers an open book of revelations, screw-ups, gaffes, and joys. Shelby is currently working on her first book.