The art of stopping

readingTruth be told, I have moments when I’m not that good at holidays. Particularly in the beginning before I get into the swing of things. I don’t do well with the adjustment, the slowing down, or more like, the slamming on of the brakes after the frenzy of packing, laundry, organizing and anticipation of needs, that defines the days leading up to the trip.

And we survive the journey, we arrive where we’ve been headed, nothing’s been forgotten, everyone has everything they need, the place is great. And then its time to RELAX.

But I can’t slow down. I don’t know how to. The quiet moments are tricky. Suddenly there’s nothing to plan for, nowhere you have to be. And that makes me antsy. Everyone else around me seems just fine, quietly reading, sitting still, just being. Which can make me feel irritable, resentful even, for no other reason than that I can’t do it. Not that quick. Turns out I don’t have a switch that I can flick.

And my husband, whose skill set definitely includes being still, is at risk (from me) in these moments. His ability to blend into his environment, to become invisible, is quite something. Its an anathema to me.

In these moments of peacefulness where I am helplessly buzzing around, I feel almost too scared to stop. I fear that I will end up like our puppy when she runs for a ball and stops too suddenly -  her feet get overtaken by her body and she ends up rolling over herself, landing sprawled in a furry heap on the ground in an ungainly manner. When I am feeling this way, my contented and still husband becomes a (sitting) target for my chagrin, I want to shake him into the same state of jittery perpetual motion that I’m stuck in. Which after over a decade of marriage, and even longer knowing him, I know is not going to work – and is never ever going to happen. But  dammit if it doesn’t stop me wanting to try.

So much of family life right now is in motion, is noisy, requires me to be on my toes like a sparring boxer. As a result, being still can make me feel uncomfortable. Being quiet can make me feel antsy. Is this just motherhood? Is it simply a permanent state of being on high alert, never fully relaxing, just in case someone needs something, or someone needs to be fed, soothed, comforted….maybe so.

But then I think back to my dog. Who flies through the air, limbs flailing, her face often dragging through the mud, looking ridiculous and a lot out of control as she tries to stop and fetch her ball. And I think how delighted she looks when she does stop. How she grins and wags as she pants and slobbers with her filthy ball in her muddy mouth. And even though she’s just a dog, I start wondering whether she’s onto something. Whether I should dare to stop and risk landing on my arse. For no better reason that that I might just have some fun doing it.

photo credit: Éole via photopin cc

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