Urgency vs. Joy

Parenting Blog

July 27, 2017

July always makes me think of a special gift we get to experience: joy. It is the time of year our energy and focus are most outward. We linger at the picnic table, chatting with friends while children play. We lie languid in the grass on a Sunday and get to eat dinner outside. As the Rose of Sharon bloom big, we realize it is a time of expansiveness for humans and nature.

Sometimes, after so many long evenings and days of grinning in the sun, I notice a sense of urgency creep in. It’s like my mind catches up with my body when it senses it has been alarmingly relaxed for too long. Did I do the dishes? I better put laundry in tonight. When is that report due? Did I schedule that appointment yet?

Then, I remember the importance of unlearning urgency.

Upon graduating from college I worked as a live-in nanny in western Massachusetts for a wonderful woman who had been an education professor of mine, and her husband, also a professor. Midway through that winter I was taking a doula training course on the weekends while the children were with their parents. One Saturday morning I was rushing around making myself breakfast and lunch for that day, and probably trying not to spill my tea. I still had to scrape ice off my windshield and make the drive down Route 9, and I was sure snow would disrupt the commute. In that moment, the middle child, a bright girl of four, eagerly wanted to show me something. I said, “Can you save it for when I get home, dear? Right now I’m in a hurry.” I’ll never forget her little voice saying, “What’s a-hurry?”

There is a learned rush so invisible that it becomes the water as we swim around our fishbowl. For me, it is inexorably linked to ideas of productivity, efficiency, perfectionism, to name a few. We may fixate on these ideas -- that we should always be producing something, should always be doing our work as efficiently as possible, should always maintain a perfect home -- until an illness or a good friend reminds us that there is no reason we must constantly measure ourselves against these standards, other than the reasons we feed ourselves.

For me, recently, the ambience of summer has provided that sweet reminder. The hot, humid days are gifts that compel us to slow, be present, and let ourselves sink into joy. Children, of course, can be the other gift that reminds us.

For the remaining days of summer, let’s allow ourselves to slow. Give ourselves permission to have a lazy day. With confidence that all tasks will get done, let joy spark in your day to day.


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