Aftermath: Silent no more

I’ve been saying for a while now, when anyone asks, that savagemama is on sabbatical. I took a break a while back because I was writing a lot about Eliza, my daughter who identifies as half half, and after writing gut wrenching essay after gut wrenching essay I started to realize that her story isn’t my own. Her story isn’t mine to tell. (Note: She and her are her preferred pronouns.) I also came face to face with what I’ve know since I could hold a pencil, writing from the gut is exhaustive business. It’s the only way I know how to do it, though, and somedays I have been so exhausted from other things that I don’t have much left to spill out onto the page.

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In slow motion, she moves

Bless her heart, our little Lucille is as slow as Christmas. At least this is how we would describe her where I’m from. In the South, we’d say she piddles. Ever since she was a toddler I’ve joked that she’ll one day be twirling at the back of a Phish show because she would spin around, look at the sky and never, ever seem to get in a big hurry to do anything.

Not much has changed since then. She still gazes at the sky, she stops, literally, to smell the flowers. When we go on walks she trails behind. I often will look back to see her squatting down talking to a bug or caterpillar on the sidewalk. She’ll pick the critter up, carry it over to me and describe in detail what it was doing when she found it. She’ll wonder out loud where its family might be and ask if we can bring it home and put it in a jar with holes in the lid. She’ll grab a handful of grass to make a “habitat” for it.

If left to her own devices and without a sister up in her grill, Lucille will dink for hours. She’ll create villages out of cardboard boxes, she’ll sing to herself, she’ll use a whole roll of tape to make a magical land out of pencils and a milk carton. When we go somewhere just the two of us she slows me down and a quick trip to the grocery store becomes a meander down the aisles, a stroll through the parking lot.

I once told her she made me go slow. I meant it as a compliment but she took it as criticism.

“It’s not nice to saw someone makes you go slow!” she said.

“I mean it in a nice way,” I said. “I notice more things because you go slower than the rest of us.”

She didn’t seem terribly convinced but it’s true. Seth and I move fast. We always have. It doesn’t mean we can’t stop and smell the roses it’s just that our natural inclination is go quickly. Eliza takes this to a whole new level. She’s a house on fire all the time. She has two speeds: on and off. She moves so fast that I feel like I’m running to keep up with her. I can only imagine how Lucille feels trying to keep up with an older sister that never slows down, rarely dinks and always seems to be one step ahead.

I stopped getting frustrated at Lucille for her slow-motion ways a long time ago. I’ve started to gear down when I see her crouched over a bug on the sidewalk. She’s observant, quiet and contemplative in these moments. Slowing down to a crawl is her way of understanding and coping with this fast-paced world and it think it may be one of her greatest gifts to me because watching her over the years I’ve started to slow down a little too. Even Eliza recognizes that Lucille moves at a different pace and tries to honor it. It comes across in a I-don’t-really-get-it-but-it’s-how-you-roll kind of way but at least she sees the difference in how Lucille moves through the world. Because of Lucille, Eliza will stop for a millisecond to look at a caterpillar. We all will and I’m not sure any of us would if it weren’t for our little dinker showing us the way.