Searching for Slack

The morning has been characterised by the loud wails of my youngest. From the daily dismay over not quite winning the race for the ‘bus’ cereal bowl, to the lament at not being allowed to wear his brother’s superhero pants, to the repeated shouts of frustration as his precarious duplo creation broke again and again. The day has been dominated by his voice, quickly followed by my rapidly fraying tones of reasoning, instructing and often imploring.

The pattern was reinforced as we, ambitiously, attempted two supermarkets in one morning. As I wrestled Billy into the trolley seat, while he loudly protested and refused to bend his legs, I wondered (almost aloud to those glancing at our scene) how people with more than two children ever do this grocery dash without emotional implosion.

Alongside the two year old’s drama comes the constant ‘why’ from Rufus in relation to just about anything that is happening or that has been said, from trolleys to toilets to trains. He is wonderfully interested in everything, all the time.

I’m sure this is a familiar picture for all those with preschool children in the vicinity, and as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot of joy mixed in with the other emotions. Parenting at any age, I’m sure, is full on.

And it’s all happening within the parameters of the life we lead.

Our current context, with all the book-selling, life-living, cultural navigation and juggling of time differences and emotional tensions, feels lacking in slack. When I have a morning like this, or Jonathan has a day of frustrations and pressures, or we just wake up finding it challenging to be living far from home, there’s little emotional space for the mini explosions and implosions that are just part of the fabric of normal life.

We live at quite a pace, quick to say yes when probably we need more ‘no’s’ (friends wisely tell me so), but also in a particular season of starting a business, raising small children and attempting to make life work on lots of different fronts.

Slack and space and time are luxuries that occasionally surprise us at the moment, and otherwise seem elusive. Seasons change, pace slackens and speeds according to numerous factors and we are learning how to find rest amidst it all…sometimes with success.


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