i just finished reading, “selfish reasons to have more kids: why being a great parent is less work & more fun than you think.” don’t message me & tell me i should have another baby. that’s awfully nice of you. maybe you think my babies are cute. thanks! & don’t message me & tell me i shouldn’t. i will wonder what i’ve done terribly wrong & might be offended.
i didn’t read it because i want to have more kids, though, but to glean the “less work & more fun” part the author, bryan caplan, writes about. parenting more fun? yes, please. less work? abso-freakin-lutely. i’ll take two.
caplan writes about how we modern parents make parenting more stressful, more difficult, & far more weighty than we need to. he sites all kinds of stuff i won’t get into about nature & nuture, how we parents can’t really affect as much as we think we can. how sitting back to enjoy parenthood & who our kids are is the one of the fast tickets into happiness in the family.
so, what about this hefty lot of energy & involvement i’m channeling into my tribe; does it need to be draining? does it need to suck the life out of me? are those who have gone ahead & sent back their foreboding, “live your life NOW, because when you have kids, oh man,” hitting a nail?
i don’t think so. i have a decade of momhood in my belly, & i think i agree with caplan. yes, i’m a little worn out. but has my life as jill ended? heck-to-the-no. i am still here, perhaps under a load or two of laundry, or maybe a small child.
BUT. i also think there’s a new path to follow. could i enjoy my children even more? & if i did, what would that do to my everyday motherhood? if i’m going to mom-it anyway, could i tweak my course a bit & amp up the happy around here? another experiment, i’m thinking. . . .
in the last couple days, since i finished caplan’s book, i’ve opened my eyes a bit. what IS going on around here, with these four small people inside my walls every day all day long?
& better yet, how can i tune into that happy place? here’s what i’m experimenting with:
- i’ve slugged myself out of bed before everyone else, to have a bit in the Word & on the internet (i’m not going to lie), a bit of quiet & a cup of tea.
- i’ve slowed way down, doing less & noticing more. fewer chores per day, simpler meals, less activities per week. is there anything about that that doesn’t sound good?
- i’ve shut off the ever-present voice in my head that says, “do.” (whose voice IS that anyway?) without the voice, my whole life has relaxed to sit & be (a hair more, anyway. i DO still have four kids running around & climbing on everything.)
- i’ve slept in. (instead of feeling guilt for not being up at x-hour. do you have this, or is it just me?)
- i’ve tuned myself in to whichever child is in my eye line, instead of wheeling through the meal plan/calendar/chores-one-must-get-done. when i tune, i feel toddler belly in my hands as i pick leify up to see what mommy’s chopping. i notice the shine in girl’s eyes when she brings another of her paintings for my approval. i’ve listened, really deeply listened when kieran asked what leif would look like if he were dead. (what?! i feel like i can’t even tell you that. what he meant (that we eventually got around to) was what does a skeleton look like? holy moly, i thought the wheels had completely flown off the cart. ahem.)
& the joy!! the hallelujah-joy.
THIS. i’m fairly certain this is what God meant when He said children are a gift from the Lord. yes. they truly are, every single stinking day, but today, in my slower state, i can see it. feel it. own it.
but. (& this is where i’d gone certainly wrong.) i’ve been in this place before. this sweet, deep, belly-filling meadow of warmth toward my little ones. this experiment really isn’t new to me. i’m plagiarizing myself.
& i’ve wandered from this place before. in & out, back & forth, here & back again.
maybe you have too.
but i’d like to stay. it’s nice here.
how do i keep from wandering? or is it a hopeless chasing my tail?
maybe the anatomy of this circle can be shrunk, at the very least.
so, this is the second part of my experiment: cull ways to stay here, in this (more) restful place of mothering. & if you are kidless, or your littles have all grown big? this in & out, circling around the peace isn’t unique to parenting. you know it isn’t. we do this in every aspect of our lives, really.
to keep the cat from straying, to kill the peace thieves, what i’m noticing about myself is that i’ve a few more signposts to keep in sight:
- stay connected. to God, to His folks, to a circle that can keep me honest in the Way i want to go.
- stop looking around. this is my biggest deal. i’m like a horse with no blinders. “oooo, look! that mama is hiking with her daughter every weekend. we should go outside.” “oooo, wow! that family lives in a bus. we should sell all our stuff & hit the road!” “oh, her kids eat that? i really should get my kids to eat green food every day.” round & round we go. it’s an exercise in discontent.
- practice being me. it’s funny that we don’t know who we are, but every since i stepped into kindergarten & one little girl had a handful of scented erasers we all suddenly coveted, i’ve had to find a mirror & see who’s there. like with my science thing, or lack of: we don’t have a telescope, but there’s a keyboard, a drum set, & 5 guitars in the basement. that doesn’t make me lacking, it makes me me.
- revel in the now. the further i go along in my life, the more i’m convinced this here nugget is one of the big tickets. even Jesus laid it out, “don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough to worry about.” yes, yes it does. when i can keep myself, my calendar, my problems in the boundary of Today, all manner of worry slides down & off. when tomorrow, yesterday, & dinner tonight are off-limits (worry-wise), i’m free to enjoy what’s in front of me, a stack of worn wooden blocks or a soapy, warm sink of dishes.
i don’t have all the answers to any of this. duh. but i do like the conversation. (& apparently a good set of rules.)
if you would, would you join me in this? this revelling, this peace-seeking, this lap-it-up-because-there-is-so-much? i’d really love to here what you have to say.
& in the meantime, may today find you restful, fully aware of who you are & Who loves you, & stayed in the Now.
happy day, my friends.