The morning has been a flurry of packing bags, counting underwear, finding missing shoes, choosing snacks, trying to pick up the living room, and reviewing the list of things-that-must-be-done-before-we-go. My husband and I bark orders and rush about so we can get into the car and head to our much-anticipated trip to Laity Lodge Family Camp in the Texas Hill Country.
I send my older daughter into her room to pick three toys for the car ride. A few minutes later when she hasn’t reappeared, I call for her.
I poke my head into her room and find her in a heap on the floor.
“What in the world are you crying about?”
“I don’t know what else to choose. I want to take Rebecca and my beads. But I don’t know what the third thing should be.”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s just a toy. Pick something and let’s go.”
“But I don’t know what to take!”
“Then just take two items. Problem solved. We have to go.”
“No, I want to take something else. I just can’t decide so quickly.”
“Just pick something.”
And so we go in circles, with more sobbing and more talking . . . but no deciding.
Forty-five minutes pass.
We finally emerge from the bedroom, three toys in hand. I’m beyond frustrated, but somehow more by my attitude than the delay. In my head, Ann Kroeker whispers words from Chapters 13 of Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families, reminding me that all this heartache is not worth the self-imposed rush.
I want to live slow enough to love...I radically altered my pace in order to meet his needs. I had to choose, because my hurried state challenged and tempted me. I had to tell myself to slow down...only then I could see clearly what was needed.
My husband is just starting to load the car, so I start yet another TV show to distract the girls while I give him a hand, hoping to make up a little time. I consider engaging them to help, but the quiet trance is a relief to my head after the toy saga. The sooner we can leave, the better.
At last, we pile into the car.
Only one final activity stands between us and backing out of the driveway: giving my younger daughter an early birthday gift of hand-painted wooden peg people who look like our family. We thought she would enjoy playing with them on our trip. While I had been handling the meltdown, my husband lovingly wrapped the gift. Each. Individual. Piece. As those darling tiny fingers tediously pull at strips of tape that are wider than the wrapping paper, I let out a sigh and mutter something rude about my husband’s thought process in the gift wrapping. I open my mouth to hurry the process along when Ann’s voice speaks up again, “Not so fast, Tina. Not. So. Fast.”
Oh, that blasted book! Oh, the irony that my assigned chapters (Chapters 12-15) for the Not So Fast book club speak the heart and soul of the very trip we are about to take! Visiting Family Camp in the Frio River Canyon is a favorite tradition of our family. The anticipation of the trip alone brings us great joy and conversation. While we are in the Canyon, cell phones don’t work, wireless internet connections don’t exist, and nature beckons us to explore and play. Towering canyon walls, soaring birds, and an emerald-green river hold my girls’ attention for much longer than a screen ever does.
And the vision of Family Camp? To provide space to slow down, reconnect, and love each other.
I close my mouth, determined not to wait for the Canyon to slow down.
My daughter delights in each piece that she opens, taking time to observe every one of them before moving on to the next. I nearly robbed that moment of joy from our entire family by rushing past. A couple minutes later she is done, and I marvel at how quickly the time passed when I remained present in the moment.
We back out of the driveway and head to Camp.
On Mondays in April we are discussing Ann Kroeker's book Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. If you've posted on your blog about the book, leave your link in the comments. Or, just jump in the discussion! Join us next week as Erin Straza leads our final discussion on chapters 16-19. Our May book selection is The Life of the Body: Physical Well-being and Spiritual Formation by Valerie E. Hess and Lane M. Arnold. Get your book and join us in May!