The Moments In Between
The best days in our household are often the silliest days. The unscheduled days that do not require putting on real pants, just living in “a world of pure imagination”. There are so many photo worthy things I have done and seen in life, but my favorite memories are largely undocumented. Life is a collection of big events sprinkled into the mundane reality of the in-between. I have been discovering lately that the moments in between matter, they are important and account for more of your time than the ‘big moments’. If you cannot be satisfied in the in-between you are missing out on most of your life. Enjoying the in-between has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself, but also how you connect to the world and people around you.
Motherhood is hard and zaps me of mental and physical energy many days. Things that used to bring me great joy and freedom often feel more like a chore now. It can be easy to get bogged down in the everyday sludge of getting kids to do something fun. It is so frustrating when you feel like you are pulling teeth to get the kids out the door to do something fun FOR THEM. When you come to these road blocks, ask yourself: is it really for them? If the payoff will be worth the struggle of getting out the door, then suck it up mama, that is life (ie any winter play, and 98% of our hikes). However, if you are struggling to get out the door to do some epic kid-fun activity when all they want to do is slow down and play with you, listen to that feedback too.
I am an introvert, and so is my oldest. This means that, for us, staying at home in our pajamas and reading books can be more filling than getting dragged along to another social thing. I read all the time about slowing down, not filling your schedule and not over-scheduling your kids. It is good for them to experience boredom, that breeds creativity and cultivates their mind. I believe these things completely, and I am saddened at all of these middle school aged kids that are so drained they do not have time to be kids, and the moms that drive themselves into the ground to make sure their kid does not miss out on every possible activity. It breaks my heart knowing that the world is breaking under the pressure of this pace.
If I am really honest with myself, I am headed that same direction. I want the boys to experience all of the fun and excitement and adventure that I can pack into these early years, unencumbered by the schedule of school and the world. The other day my oldest picked up the travel brochure from Costco. After getting home and scouring through the magazine for nearly an hour he came to me and announced that “we should travel more.” After some probing questions from me (thinking only of our life revolving around travel and adventure since the day he was born) I was able to discover that the thing that would be most fun for my four year old would be digging in the dirt. That’s it. Digging in the dirt would be the most fun adventure for him. This was simultaneously a huge slap in the face, and a gentle reminder that he is four, and of course that would be the most fun for him.
The four year old that has been to more National Parks, camping trips, mountain peaks, and sandy beaches that most adults I know does not care about any of it. He is, after all, four and entirely focused on the small details of the world. Watching bugs in action, playing with chalk, and yes digging in dirt are the things that breathe life into him. Kids are so brutally honest, it is admirable. They do not care how their words will land to the people around them. They are more than willing to announce that a person is fat, a dog is pooping over there, or the adventures that their parents have been meticulously curating for their whole lives is of little value to them. They have no filter, they are pure.
I do not believe that the life we have created for these boys has been worthless, the things they know and understand about the world around them are important, and will serve them well in this world. Moments like these just remind me to take a step back and evaluate why I am pushing them to get out of the house everyday and interact with nature and the world around them. The truth is, I do not like being home and when I am home I seem incapable of not just turning on the TV or deep cleaning something and I do not like that routine. I cannot stay home without feeling the need to accomplish all of the house projects I see that need done. I think it is a natural response to the internal monologue “what do stay at home moms do all day anyways?”
The problem with bouncing from one house project or laundry pile to the next is when I hear from my oldest “Mommy, do you want to play with me?” Sadly, my response is usually “After I finish xyz. . .” It breaks my heart and can crush me in so many ways, allowing mom-guilt to sit front and center in between me and RM in that moment. There are many times when I am in the middle of something, but many more times there is no reason I am not playing with them except that it can take an incredible amount of energy that I do not have.
My absolute favorite days are the ones spent on the boys schedules. The days that I have the energy to get down on the floor with them and just live in the moment and world of a toddler. When I can play cars with them, or read books, or wrestle we all become more filled. This requires an ability to compartmentalize all of the ‘tasks’ that I have to do, but that list never seems to end anyways. Time seems to be speeding up these days, neither of my boys feel like babies anymore and they are continually changing, learning and growing. I want to spend more of my days fully immersed in their worlds, soaking up every bit of toddler I can stand. I know this season is quickly coming to a close, and while there are many things that I have to look forward to, I do not want to wish away these days.
Here is to the wild and pure days of having little ones
Today I want to take less Instagram-worthy pictures, and live more soul filling real moments. They are not always pretty, but they are full of love. Today is about a less-hectic calendar and a messier house. Today I will say no to busy and yes to my boys.