When It’s Time To Slow 4

It’s been wild at LuitHaus lately.

School started, in staggering steps, for my three, all in different stages and with differing amounts of excitement and trepidation.

We ended three years of homeschool with a mighty whimper, and we are happy to have to had that experience, and a little melancholy that they are gone, and a little bit more relieved that school is happening elsewhere.

I began a part-time job, designed to support my running habit and earn a few bucks and get the extrovert out of the house. I like it, the work and the people, but it’s been a decade since I clocked in anywhere, toting my lunch and planning my days.

I have clients with deadlines. I have columns due. The schedule teeters at me wildly like an off-kilter level. Even the calendar in my phone takes a tone with me: “Tomorrow looks busy: seven events are scheduled tomorrow.” Yes. I know. I don’t know how I’ll manage. But I’ll manage.

My son, 10, returned from school in a sweaty fit. His class spent the day at the zoo, when it was 104 and without a breeze. It was obvious to me that the poor kid was exhausted. I let him rail for a half hour, making him a snack, a cold drink, offering to run a bath. He rebuffed my attempts. Finally, he accepted my offer: “Let’s go read in my room.”

He was under the covers and had pulled up the Kindle book before I blinked. I closed the door and turned on the fan, and we read. During the first chapter, his breath evened out, his eyes closed for long seconds, but he fidgeted and twisted in the sheets. In the second chapter, he gave up fighting, and settled. I stopped reading, and he nudged my arm to keep going. A page later, I felt him sleep jump and then settle in again, his body in the quiet repose of deep slumber.

I remembered holding him as a baby, afraid to put him down for fear he’d wake up. I remembered those quiet moments when holding him or one of his sisters forced me into inactivity. I lay next to my son, this child caught between infancy and manhood, whispering a prayer of thanks.

The window backlit his profile, and I saw young pimples on his forehead, recalling his bout with infant acne and foretelling the adolescent near future. His lashes, long and dark fluttered on his rounded pink cheeks, which haven’t yet merged into the angular lines of a teenager. His pulse bobbed at his throat, which hasn’t yet deepened his voice. He is still young, and still my little boy, and he is standing on the cusp of so much I can practically feel his energy; he even smells of motion, dried sweat and sunshine and damp cotton.

I am thankful for this moment, this stillness, this absolute requirement of silence. For once I am not chasing a list of to-dos. I am not running about anxiously making dinner and carpooling to soccer and checking homework or working late. I am watching his past and his present and his potential future. I even have time to chase a few words around in my mind, thinking abut prayer, and faithfulness and the zeal of youth. And I wonder, does zeal mellow, if it is not lost? And is that okay? And I promise myself that I will wake earlier, that I will adjust my day so I have time for this quietude. And I know I will forget, or ignore the alarm. And that is also okay, because this time? This moment? It was an unsought gift.