When my girls were young, I often felt overwhelmed. Part of the problem was the unrealistic expectations I placed upon myself. Another part was the constant feeling that I needed to get more things done in a shorter amount of time. Many nights I went to bed feeling worn out and frustrated, as though all I had accomplished was spinning my wheels. I constantly chased efficiency.
Hindsight is kind to me now. I’m able to see what really matters was happening quite invisibly while we stumbled about. My children were growing into human beings, and oh what marvelous human beings they have become.
But it didn’t happen efficiently.
Raising children is a long, sprawling, messy, inefficient process. Sure, you can rush it along, but why? We have decades and decades of adulting ahead of us. Childhood, on the other hand, is just a tiny span of time. And yet its sprawling untidiness often made me feel as though I was somehow living completely wrong. I knew there must be a way to tighten up, to remove the messiness.
If there is a way, I sure never figured it out. We had cereal for dinner for days when my husband was out of town. Also, ice cream. We wore dirty clothes and, sometimes, skipped baths. We definitely skipped school on beautiful days and not-so-beautiful days. They never took a test or received a grade. Not one. I never got it all together, and so each day was a bit of an adventure without a map leading us to the end point.
Gosh, I’m so glad for this.
I’m so glad we chased curiosity and went to Sea World on Thursdays (sometimes every Thursday.) I’m glad we watched movies on rainy days and took unexpected trips and left chores unfinished to read just one more chapter.
Our rampant inefficiency has led to the most interesting life. My delightfully messy children have grown into such captivating adults. Sometimes we sit around the dinner table and have discussions that swing from silliness to serious and back again so fast I almost have motion sickness. We look at the world from the front, back, and sideways and never see the same things twice, nor hold the same opinion very often. We’re not neat or conventional and, most certainly, not at all efficient.
We aren’t boring, either.
It’s only taken me forty-four years to figure out efficiency is boring. The point isn’t to get to the next things as quickly as possible just so to cross it off some cosmic list. The point is to suck every bit of enjoyment out of the journey even if it means it takes five minutes or five hours more. Also, you should definitely stop for ice cream. With sprinkles.