Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Loving my Inner Tortoise


I hate rushing. As soon as I rush, I get anxious, start yelling at my kids, forget things and generally fall apart. Deadlines like getting to kindergarten on time or trying to take three children and all their stuff somewhere, like swimming lessons for instance, can be very stressful in our house. My way of coping is to be organised, not anally so, but I plan ahead so as not to fall into the trap of frantic rushing, shouting and leaving essential objects behind.

That’s why yesterday was so unfair. We were invited to a barbeque at 3pm at friends who live 50 kilometres away and I was asked to bring dessert. I was so organised – I made the meringue the night before, got up early and made the lemon drizzle cake, walked the girls to kindergarten on time and bought the raspberries for the pavlova on the way home. Then, I took my parents-in-law to Heidelberg where they needed to do some last-minute retail therapy before flying back to South Africa this weekend. We lunched out, and timed our return so that we had an hour at home for me to grab all the things seven people need. We gave Ollie his lunch and packed a car picnic for the girls so they had something to eat on the way there.

We’re at the car at 2pm, ready to fetch the girls and do the 45-minute car journey. I’m putting the pram in the car, having already switched Ollie’s car seat because this is Thomas’s van we’re using to transport everybody. And the boot won’t close. I think it’s because the pram’s too big, so in the 34 degree heat, with baby Ollie and two in-laws sweltering in the car, I try 27 different ways of packing the pram into the boot of the car. I phone Thomas, he makes suggestions, I try again. In-laws try. Ollie cries. Phone Thomas again. Phone kindergarten because we are now late. Keep trying. Keep slamming. Boot won’t close. I’m getting sweaty and anxious. The chocolate for the pavlova is melting. So am I. Not to mention in-laws and baby.

Eventually we fetch the girls (late), drive to the Renault garage and sit for half an hour while a very nice man fixes the boot and arrive at the barbeque an hour late. Our friends are very relaxed and kind and don’t mind in the least. I don’t even mind being late. It’s just that moment of realising we’re going to be late, despite all planning and preparation and cooking meringues at 11pm while watching Germany lose at football. At least I kept my outer cool and didn’t yell at anyone. But even so, I don’t think it’s worth the stress.

So here’s my new resolution: I’m going to embrace my inner tortoise. I’ve always admired the slow movement – slow food, slow living – and loathe it when I get into headless chicken mode. I love having the time to plan and cook a nice meal. I prefer a food market to a supermarket. The only warm-up meal we ever have is the odd pizza, everything else is cooked from scratch. I’m even happy for little Ollie to help me make beds – he loves helping ‘shakey shake’ the duvet cover. I’m well on my way to being slow. I think my inner tortoise is right there, reading for loving.

I just have to remember when the temptation to rush floods over me: think tortoise not chicken.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

2 thoughts on “Loving my Inner Tortoise

  1. Yesss! (as we say in our house when someone has a really fabulous idea.) You are on to something Charlotte! It’s this kind of attitude we all need to embrace. Cheers! BL

  2. wow, you did more in a morning than I am capable in a day. Your’re right about the tortoise though. The chicken with it’s head ON shoud be kept for emergencies…easier said than done.

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