Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Because My World Is Small

Once, I held a rather large place in the world.

Okay, not really. It seemed much larger than the place I hold now though. In my early twenties, I had a job where I'd fly all over the West Coast, helping to train staff at new offices from Washington to Arizona. In my thirties, I was part of a statewide organization that brought me into contact with staff from every county in California. Our job was to make recommendations that went straight to the politicians in Sacramento. If I fired up my imagination, I could envision myself sitting in a room with (then) Governor Schwarzenegger... ready to answer questions about the work I did.

Last week, I faced the high pressure decision making that comes with being a stay at home mom: Do I continue doing 55 mph in the slow lane behind a trucker, or dart around in the hopes of passing him before my exit comes up?

I chose the slow lane.

Realization dawned on me that I no longer had meetings to attend. No one would care if I was three minutes late to Target. The brand of graham crackers I choose will not be used as a benchmark for future generations of toddlers. My world has shrunk dramatically.

I enjoyed working at a "real" job. I got a lot of satisfaction from thinking that my ideas and knowledge helped others and made a difference in locations far from where I lived. My work could lighten another's load. My innovations kept other people from having to re-invent the wheel. I worked hard because there was always the chance that excellence in my work could affect people I would never even meet.

Not anymore though. Now my world is small.

Oddly, I found a quiet satisfaction in realizing I could drive as slowly as I wanted. There is a sense of freedom in planning your own day. The world could continue to rush on by. We were heading home to peanut butter and jelly and didn't need the stress of maxing out the speed limit.

I remember watching mini vans in the slow lane as I rushed to and from work. I recalled driving behind "that car" on my way back from lunch, hoping I wasn't late because the person in front of me had nowhere to go, and all day to get there. Sometimes I could actually feel my heart begin to race as I was forced to slow down and take on the pace of the car in front of me. Now I am "that car". I don't worry as much about the car behind me, because my world is small.

When you have young children, you learn very quickly that there is little point in rushing around, shaving seconds off tasks, minutes off trips, moments from conversations. Little feet only move so fast. Little hands are still mastering the task of putting each arm through the right holes in a shirt and strapping the slim velcro shoe closures in just the right spot. Little minds have to observe every detail around them as they walk, lest they trip and fall. Or worse - miss the small shiny object on the ground that everyone else seems not to notice. Little hearts have taught me that getting upset because we are behind a big truck in the slow lane is simply not worth the effort. Little hands, little feet and little hearts remind me daily that my world is small.

Honestly, I do sometimes miss the "big world" where my thoughts and ideas had the potential for far reaching impact. I loved the challenges that required sharp focus and logical thinking. (Something quite lacking in my small world now!) I loved seeing a daytimer filled with meetings, showing in black and white how important I was... to someone. Only now I'm not sure who that someone was.

Now, there are two someone's who feel that I am very important. They don't care how fast I drive, how many meetings I schedule, or whether my thoughts and ideas reach beyond our home. They only care that I am there, and loving them. Because for now... my world is small.


Nicky said...

Your world may be seem small right now but you are shaping the lives of two little ones who will grow up to impact their generation and the next generation as an extension of you! Instead of size today your influence will impact many tomorrows :-)

Don Rowe said...

I worked 28 years at Mervyn's/Target, they havn't called me because they couldn't figure out how to do something after I left...but my kids call me all the time. Enjoy your kids as slowly as possible!

Sunshine SAHM said...

@Nicky: You are so right! Even as I wrote this, I was thinking... I am doing an important job - it just doesn't always seem that way. And the payoff is so far out! (And so unpredictable!) :)

@Don: I love your comment. It's so true... work hasn't called once, but my kids won't let me forget how much I'm needed. I am trying to enjoy it slowly. Well, most parts anyway. ;)