For the From Left to Write Book Club we read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. This post was inspired by the book.
I don't often think of snails. The most I've ever thought of them was when I was in Dublin for a writing program at Trinity University. I remember these incredible, gigantic snails slowing making their way across the sidewalk in the early morning when I would head out for a run. Sometimes I'd see what could very well be the same snail finally making it to the other side as I returned from my run, a faint glistening trail marking its slow crossing.
Reading about the complexities of a snail and the experience of having nothing to do but observe one, I realized something... Even I have a little snail in me. In the book Bailey is stuck in bed due to illness, so as she observes a snail living by her bedside, she notices the focus, patience, and determination of these little creatures. She notices that its actions are all very specific and well thought out. No matter what the obstacle, the snail would slowly and methodically go about its business.
With W, I learned quickly that moms get lots of overwhelming curve balls thrown our way. Tasks or situations that seem really out of control happen a lot. For instance, the diaper explosion. I mean the crazy explosions that go up the back and down to the toes of the footy pajamas. And they always seem to be the worst when you're in public, right?
When faced with an explosion, the freak out button is blinking, tempting you to give in. The task just seems so huge -- And always an emergency. It's hard to figure out where to begin, so I learned early on to take a deep breath, assess the situation, and then create steps in my head of how I would get W clean. I often talked myself through it. "Unzip the sleeper, wipe down stomach, pull out on leg, wipe, pull out the other leg, wipe, roll up sleeper poop side in along the back, remove diaper and wipe down diaper area, flip onto front side, wipe down back, lean baby face forward and pull sleeper away from the head, sliding out the arms, full wipe down...."
Sure, it could take 15 minutes to change these monster diapers, but once I would make it half way, I knew I was almost there. I would constantly remind myself that no matter how long it takes and how much he screams, there is no way to make the process go any faster. The more rushed I became, the more poop I got on myself and the more wipes I wasted. In the end, slow and methodical always won the race.
Slow and methodical is not a comfort zone for me. I live in constant fear of wasting time. I tend to read the first line of directions, check the picture, and then figure things out on my own. I am constantly multi-tasking. Focus on one task is not a strength of mine. Trying to be patient gives me anxiety. But, when you're a mom, you can't always bulldoze your way through every situation (bulldozing is my preferred way of handling things). Sometimes you just have to channel your inner snail.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book as a member of the From Left to Write Book Club. To read how other bloggers were inspired by this book, visit From Left to Write.