Your pace or mine?

Two months after we got married we moved house, two weeks after moving house my wife phoned me to tell me she was pregnant. I feel as if I haven’t paused for breath for almost three years.

Being a parent, being a new parent, being a first-time parent, being a working parent, trying to be a good parent, it’s exhausting. Whether they’re lying, gurgling, in their own poo, or ascending the bookcase, they demand, need, deserve 100% of your attention.

Like the man said: stop the world, I want to get off.

It’s not that I want more time to myself. I get that on a train plugged into my music four mornings a week, oblivious to my fellow travellers all doing the same.

What I really want is to slow down, is to stop. Physically, mentally, spiritually. To feel like I’m not waiting to do something, not needing to think about something or simply not to be so self aware of a world and a tiny percentage of its inhabitants that demand my attention.

The answer is, as answers occasionally are, right in front of me: running down someone else’s drive way, pulling flower heads off out of their garden, picking up gravel, stooping to look at dog poo and cigarette ends.

To move at your child’s pace, to move in your child’s time is to move in distracted wonder, unfettered by having to be anywhere whenever.

It is to take an hour, even two to complete a twenty minute journey and to wonder at the end if you had rushed things.

It is to let go of any urgency and drift aimlessly on whim and fancy, revelling in a scrap, a stick, a sound, and where any road is worth meandering down at least for now.

It is to move at a speed driven by interest and playful rhythms.

You start to feel as if this is a lost art, a muscle memory from thousands of years ago, a way for us all to reconnect…

…whilst still having to divert them from getting too close to the road or falling off bridges. I guess even when you do get to stop, you never stop being a parent.