It’s official. I gave birth to two sloths.
Oh sure, they pass for human beings, with their swishy ponytails and their full English sentences. But don’t let them fool you. These children morph into slow-motion mammals as soon as you tell them to move.
“Get your shoes on, girls. We leave for karate in five minutes.” I rushed through the house, packing snacks and water bottles, smacking on a quick layer of lip gloss and searching for my phone.
Five minutes later, my children had not yet unglued their bottoms from the sofa.
“Girls! What did I say? It’s time to go to karate. Turn off the TV and put your shoes on.”
“I don’t want to go to karate today,” groaned the second-born creature. “I want to stay home.”
“Too bad. You love karate. We’re going. Put your shoes on.”
“Do we haaaaaave to go?” Big sister sprawled her legs across the sofa. I clenched my fists, closed my eyes, blew steam out my nostrils and counted to five—for me, not for them.
“Girls, what is our family rule?”
“Obeyyyyy the firrrrrrst tiiiiiiiime.” If sloths could speak, I’m sure they could not drawl those words any slower. My children know this rule. Yet the space between knowing and doing is where I live and train and discipline—and sometimes drive myself straight up the wall, which wouldn’t be so bad if I had the sloth gene, too, and could hang upside down on the ceiling fan for a nice long nap.
How do I get THROUGH to these
Mom is on a schedule! GET ON THE BUS OR GET RUN OVER, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!
Hmmm. Stress much?
Let’s rewind and replay the morning at sloth speed.
While I was watching the clock, trying to squeeze in one last chore or e-mail or status update before the last possible minute to get into the shower or else run late (again), my girls were seated at the kitchen table drawing flowers and dinosaurs. “Mommy, look at my picture!” In a minute, I said. Mom is busy.
When they ate their pancakes and asked for more, I answered five texts, switched two loads of laundry, and completely spaced the update that my kids were still hungry. “Mom, my pancake? You said I could have another one.” Dang it.
And while I barked at them to brush their teeth and comb their hair, I stood half naked in the mirror still fixing my own hair and makeup, clearly not demonstrating punctuality by example. Perhaps I could’ve gotten ready ten minutes earlier so I’d have time to relish their pretty reflections and tell them how beautiful God made them.
Do you see the problem here? I expect my children to enter my world—my fast-paced, clock-ticking, hamster wheel existence. But I seldom bother to slow into theirs, to delight in their artwork or their silly songs, to answer their curiosity with more than half a brain of distracted attention in those moments when I have things to do and places to go.
And I suspect I’m not alone.
Do you do it, too?
Maybe their dawdling is an issue of disobedience. Probably. Yes. I will continue to work on that. I don’t have any brilliant solutions or magic words of wisdom. I’m struggling just like you.
But maybe. Maybe their dawdling is partly a digging in—a show of resistance against their mother’s crazy pace. And if that’s the case? I could learn a few things from my kids. Perhaps in the space between knowing and doing, I am just as disobedient as they are.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38–42).
What will you choose today, momma? Tasks and distractions? Or living in the moment, soaking up what matters?
Yes, I know those tasks need to get done, oh man don’t I know it. But we have to keep them in perspective—because Jesus says those tasks are not the most important thing. Let’s show our kids how to keep up by walking alongside them rather than harping from behind. Amen?
“Moooom, where are you?” My girls called from the garage, where they were now buckled into the minivan and waiting for me—oh the irony.
“Thank you for getting ready on time,” I said as I slid into the driver’s seat, running two minutes late as usual.
“What took you so long?” My five-year-old scolded.
“I couldn’t find my shoes.”
“Hahaha,” she cracked up, “Mommy, you’re just like me! I lose my shoes all the time!”
Heaven help me. She’s right. My dawdlers and I—we’re growing up together.