An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: Newton’s first law of motion

I could have sworn I told them to help each other get unbuckled and to come inside.

Newton’s first law: An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest.

I was awful at math and physics growing up. Really bad. My brain just can’t compute the world in those terms. I was so bad at it that I gave up my dream of being a veterinarian because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get through the most basic of the math and physics courses. That meant chemistry too. I could handle biology but you needed them all. I didn’t dwell on it, I just turned my attention to my strengths and well, here we are.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about Sir Isaac Newton far more lately than I ever have before. I’ve never really been one to dream about the mathematicians and scientists of yesteryear but here I am doing just that. It’s because I’m pretty exhausted these days — not for any real reason but just in general. I am not unique in any way whatsoever so I’m not seeking your sympathy. In fact, I know you understand. If you’re human, you get tired. If you’re a mom you get even a little more tired than that.

It’s life.

Being mom-level tired lately got me to thinking about my kids, though.

Recently we’d run an early-morning errand and had arrived back home. My two children, aged six and five, were both buckled into their car seats in the back and had nothing but themselves to get into the house, or so I thought. I, on the other hand, had an armload of items to ferry from the car to the kitchen.

I turned to them and said very clearly: “Help each other get unbuckled, please, and then come inside,” before collecting my stuff and going in. Simple enough request, right?

I was able to get into the house, put my things away, make my son’s lunch for school and pack it into his school bag. Alone. No kids in sight.

I heard the neighbour, who works the night shift, return home and wondered if she was judging me for leaving my kids alone in the car. She likely didn’t even notice them thanks to science. An object at rest (kids) stays at rest. She probably didn’t see them sitting still in their seats.

Me on the other hand, well Newton said an object in motion stays in motion but I dared to defy him. I grabbed hold of my cup of coffee and sat down.

After a time, not long at all, my phone buzzed. It turns out the children had stowed the iPad in the back seat with them and had opened up the messaging app to text me. They aren’t quite at the age where they can quickly write sentences (though it won’t be long now) so I had several voice-messages in quick succession.


“Mom, where are you?”

“Mom, can you get us out now?”


I could have sworn I told them to help each other get unbuckled and to come inside.

But they’re kids. They were at rest and there was no external force (read: Mom) to get them moving once I left the vehicle, so they were stuck apparently.

“Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it,” said Newton.


I went back out to the vehicle and there they were, still buckled in their seats, confused, waiting, and with decreasing patience.

I confiscated the iPad, released them from their binds and removed them ever-so-lovingly from the car.

Then I gave them a little bit of crap for breaking Newton’s first law. I was at rest and science says I should have been able to stay there.

Thanks Newton. Those two little external forces caused me to move!

They looked up at me, all innocent and cute and messy, with their perfectly smooth sun-protected skin and their big wide eyes; with their messy bed-head hair and the remnants of their breakfasts still in the corners of their mouths, because it’s not like they would take the initiative and wipe their own faces.

And then I remembered another Newton quote.

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

And perhaps this is why mothers are always so tired. They see that simplicity in their children and our love for that pureness prompts us to move.

And once in motion, well, we stay in motion.

Hang in their mommas. There’ll come a day when we stop. We will no doubt enjoy it for a time, but I suspect eventually we’ll wish we still had those little external forces urging us to move once again.

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