Sunday, November 3, 2013


I take Emmeline to swim lessons most Wednesday evenings. I always look forward to it for a variety of reasons. What joy it is to watch a child born out of MY body, fearless of the water. Sometimes in the space between waving and blowing kisses, I just stare at the wall and breath. Sometimes I make small talk with the other moms in between their own waving and kissing. I'll admit it - sometimes I just mindlessly surf through the emails on my phone. It is my half hour to do what I please. A precious half hour in a week of hurried chaos.

Until recently, Emmeline refused to let me blow dry her hair after swim lessons. Then one day, like the switch that is so often mysteriously flipped in the mind of a three-year old, she discovered the pure luxury in having someone slowly blow dry her hair, running their fingers through her strands while that warm goodness covers her neck. If only she knew how much this treat will cost her in her adult years. If only she knew what a luxury it is for me to spend these precious moments with her as her mom and hairdresser.

Yes, since the birth of the twins, that half hour on Wednesday evenings is some of the only time during the week that I'm not in a hurry.

This past Wednesday, as Emmeline was fancying herself at Momma's Salon after swim class, I witnessed the mother next to me talk sternly to her little girl, probably under the age of four. She was grabbing one of her arms firmly and said in an elevated voice, "I said come on. We are in a hurry! We don't have time for this!". Please - in no way am I judging. I'm sure she as her half hour at some point in her week, just not at swim class. Rather, in that moment it was as if I was presented the gift of a mirror. I know that I had exhibited her look and those mannerisms. I had used her words in that tone of voice, many, many times before. Many times that week. Many times that day. I never really thought much about my behavior except that I believed it was "necessary" now that I'm so busy with the boys and being back to work. And then the mirror was held up...

Man, it was not one of her better moments. Man, those times are not my better moments.

Having recognized this gift, I became observant of the situation as I continued to run my fingers through Emmeline's hair. The more the mother expressed her need to hurry up, the more the girl's body tensed up and became resistant. And the more the girl resisted, the more the mother tugged and raised her voice, and the more the girl resisted...Having started around the same time, the mother finally finished with everything about two minutes before Emmeline and I were done, both mother and daughter leaving with tensed bodies and strained faces.

Two minutes quicker. And that's when it really clicked. Now, as a mother of three, I am fully aware of the importance of logistics. I know that there are times, that in order to get everyone fed, bathed and basic needs met before bed it may often feel like I need to hurry. If hurrying would really change the course of events for the better, I'm all for it. I'm a sucker for efficiency. But the truth of the matter is that, to a three-year old, the difference between the "hurry" and the "non-hurry" speed of doing things is very negligible - perhaps a maximum difference of a minute or two. And that minute or two can be the difference between being all tensed up or sharing a few memorable moments at Momma's Salon.

Later in the week, I decided to indulge Emmeline in her desire to try ice skating. There's a rink near by with open skate. Within a minute of hitting the ice, Emmeline was not a fan, but we stuck it out for one complete lap around the rink. She wasn't quite ready to leave and it was around lunch, so we got a couple of hotdogs at the snack bar and snuck into the stands of the professional rink. About 40 teenage figure skaters were practicing a complicated routine and we were their sole audience, having the bleachers to ourselves. Emmeline was in awe. As she mindlessly ate cut-up hotdog, she talked about how beautiful they looked, how she wished she could twirl like they did and how she wanted to be a good skater too. This led into that important discussion about practicing, how getting really good at something takes time and patience and how those girls probably started with the little walkers and fell a lot when they were three-years old too.

Then my eyes met the big clock on the score keeping wall. We had been sitting there watching for 30 minutes. I became anxious to go. I had things to do. It was time to hurry out of there and hurry through the rest of my day. And then Emmeline looked at me with her beautiful and now inspired eyes and begged to stay "just a few more minutes, momma". In that moment, the scene from that week's swim class flashed before my eyes. We stayed, almost another hour.

Because sometimes in a minute or two, a few moments at Momma's Salon can be soaked up or sometimes a life-long dream can be born. Or sometimes a mother and daughter can just have a meaningful chat over a hot dog.

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