She walks briskly down the path, then stops and waits, impatiently beckoning to her young son to hurry up. Her words are sharp and her tone irritated, as though his slowness is an almost unbearable weight for her. Oblivious to the beauties around them, the pair slowly make their way down the trail in fits and starts, both of them belligerent, frustrated, and stressed.
A boy and his mother walk down a trail through woods near a creek, the water making a background song to their hike. They walk slowly, noticing the diversity of plant life surrounding them, examining the different shapes and textures of the leaves. The mother isn’t trying to make her son walk faster, but to engage him more deeply in the moment and place.
What differentiates these two mothers? What leads one to put the immediate task (reaching a destination) at a higher priority, despite the frustration of trying to control another person and ending up at cross purposes? What makes the other choose connection and relationship over speed and accomplishment? Is it personality, or character, or circumstance?
It is purely and simply choice.
I was both of these mothers, in instances just five minutes (and a major apology to Rondel) distant from each other. All that changed was that I remembered who I want to be, and chose to change my course. I was still just as frustrated at his slowness, but realized that I didn’t have to let those things (his slowness, my irritation) hurt our relationship or prevent us from savoring the beauty around us.
We will never be perfect parents, but we always have the option to choose a better way.