Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Break Musings

I've been thinking a lot about this concept of simplicity in family life lately. Specifically, how can I make this ideal work in a way that makes sense and feels authentic to us. Why is it important anyway? The kids are on Spring Break this week (and last) and it has actually given me time to stop and think about what it is I want from my family life; and what it is that is missing.

Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote this wonderful book, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, that was life-altering when I first read it (I have read it and reread it multiple times now). Being mindful as parents, in other words being aware and present, is so much harder than it sounds. Life moves so fast, and you are so so tired! It can be repetitive and trying. It is so easy to escape into a TV show or my iPhone instead of listening to a 2-year-old's seventeenth question about garbage trucks. It is so much more entertaining to talk to another adult for a few minutes -- which turns into an hour -- than to engage in a moment of rivalry between siblings. It is easier to drive from activity to activity than to play yet another game of Candy Land, with no one playing by the rules. But the Kabat-Zinn's remind us that "mindful parenting involves keeping in mind what is truly important as we go about the activities of daily living with out children." In those moments when I am actually listening to the garbage truck questions or squabbles, or playing that 24th game of Candy Land, I enter into that moment. I find that elusive joy that comes from the overused phrase, "being present." And I feel connected to my kids.

That is what is missing: the connections. After rushing the kids into the minivan by 7:15 in the morning (lots of admonitions and stress involved), then going to the gym or cleaning the house or going grocery shopping or occasionally seeing friends, then getting the little ones down for naps, then picking up the kids, rushing to after school activities, coming home and making dinner, getting the kids into the bath (lots of admonitions and stress involved), then getting them to sleep...I feel like I have barely acknowledged my kids, let alone heard their thoughts or feelings. And my poor husband has barely been kissed on the cheek before I pass out cold. The weekends are a little better, but sometimes they are just as full.

Something is not right here. At least for me. This is not what I yearned for during the years of losing my pregnancies and dreaming of a family. I have still yet to figure out how to remedy the situation, but something is a-brewing. I can feel it.