There’s an old lady who walks past my cottage everyday at 4pm. She doesn’t say a word to me but if the children are there her face lights up and I see a glimmer of the beautiful woman she used to be. All of a sudden she’s my best friend, asking me about my daughters and whether they had a good day at school or not.
She takes such a simple pleasure in Emily and Jess, whereas I’m always in a rush with herding them to various classes and play dates. I’m always on the move. I’m always under pressure, usually of my own design admittedly. As a result my answers are brief and perfunctory, frequently interspersed with, ‘would you get in the car!’ and ‘for god’s sake stop gnawing on your sister’s arm.’
I dreamt about this woman last night but somehow her face merged with my own grandmother’s whom I sadly lost last year. She and my grandfather had a special way with my children. Any tantrum was quickly cuddled into submission. They took such delight is just hanging out with them and getting to know their little personalities. I miss them everyday.
Have my generation lost the art of being still with our children? We live our lives at a hundred miles an hour, striving to fulfil society’s norms and our own expectations at the same time. Something was always bound to give. But are we doing irreparable harm by not taking a moment to breath once in a while? I worry about it all the time.
So after school today I’m going to take the time to talk to my daughters. I’m going to listen and sympathise about the grazed knees and the friend dramas and admire all the beautiful pictures that they’ve drawn for me. It doesn’t matter if Emily’s ten minutes late for her ballet rehearsal this week. The World isn’t going to end. Nor am I going to have a mini panic about what we’re having for dinner.
And then I’m going to go out of my house at 4pm and talk to another.