I once had an elderly lady stop me in the parking lot of Walmart to tell me that I was "walking too fast with my baby." I had only one child then. She was around 17 months and I, on that particular day, was attempting to hold her hand and cross the street, quickly.
I've always been a fast walker. It started in high school; I was usually nervous and didn't like how intentional walking slow felt. It became a habit from there. So when the lady stopped me to tell me that I was "walking too fast with my baby" and that I should "slow down because her legs weren't long enough to keep up with me," I laughed, nervously. I didn't know I was walking fast. And that my daughter's legs were practically limp against the pace I thought we should go to hurry into the store. It just didn't register.
My long, quick strides worked best for me as an important woman who needed to "get things done"... at Walmart... at one in the afternoon. So, naturally, that pace must also work for my daughter's little legs.
I thought about that story when editing some pictures of my two girls yesterday evening.
I had a second child, a girl, in October of 2011. Since then, I've often been asked, "How do you do it with two children? It's hard, right?" I want to say my life is harder, but, really? It's not. The theme that came to mind as I sat down to write this is that with two children, my life feels easier.
I think with one child, I could more easily trick myself into believing that I could set the pace of our lives, that I could still be this semi-massive orbit and my children would drift along by virtue of gravitational pull. I could be center and still be a mother.
But now, with two, it feels easier because I've settled into the idea that while I am central in their lives, I can't be the center all the time. My pull is shaped by the also powerful and unique pulls of my children. We pull each other in directions and find our centers together in order to make this work.
I've slowed down because they need me to and because I need to in order to see them clearly, not as little bystanders to my life's ambition, but as partners to it.
Having two children feels easy because I know this and a lot more now. With two grey hairs, I'm still growing at 29. I'm growing alongside my girls. I've been humbled.
I walk more slowly now because this is the pace that's best for us.
An earlier version of this post originally appeared on www.jessicafhinton.com.