Monday, March 18, 2013

Opportunity Knocking

I attend a Bible study at my church with a group of women I definitely consider my friends.  They are wonderful mothers and inspirational women.  Currently, our group is reading a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts.  I am not a huge fan of her over-flowery writing style, but the overall message of the book is great so far.  Up to this point, we have read first four chapters and the fourth really hit home for me.  This particular quote was like a punch in the gut:

"Being in a hurry.  Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me.  I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry.  But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing. . . Through all that haste I thought I was making up time.  Turns out I was throwing it away."

That pretty much sums up my life these days.  I'm so busy rushing to get everyone everywhere they need to be on time; rushing to get homework completed, supper on the table, baths done, bedtime routines finished.  Rushing. There is always something else to do - laundry, dishes, emails.  If I can just get this thing finished quicker then I'll have time for that thing.  As I rush the kids (and myself) through the motions of the day, I forget - or rather neglect - to really take them in; to enjoy them; to laugh with them; to talk with them - really talk.  Their requests to play, to listen, or to just snuggle become an inconvenience rather than an opportunity.

So, today, I decided it would be different.  I decided I  would be different.  Thanks to a dreary, rainy day Megan's soccer game was cancelled and we ended up with a free afternoon.

For starters, I got on the treadmill - something I rarely do when the children are home.  As expected, they soon came to hover.  Megan and Emily literally lay in the floor for a while watching my feet pound the rubber.  Then, Megan with her boundless energy, began to keep pace with me, running around the room as I ran and walking when I walked.  Emily lay on my exercise mat and tried out some yoga poses.  Rachel joined, too, creating her own yoga poses.  When I was finished, they each wanted a turn.  I envied their enthusiasm as they begged to go faster and faster.  Instead of viewing their presence as a hindrance to my workout,  I let them in and found that their giggles and conversation actually enhanced my workout and made it pass more easily.

While I was cooking dinner, Emily came in the kitchen after having changed herself into a pink, swirly, poofy dress.  She helped me unload the dishwasher, carefully sorting the silverware into the proper slots in the drawer.  She cleaned the sink for me, giggling as she covered it with soap suds and so proud of herself when she was finished.  As I was putting food on the plates, a fun song came on my iPod that was playing in the background, so we stopped and had our own little dance party in the middle of the kitchen.  She smiled.  I smiled.

After showers, Rachel wanted me to straighten her long, naturally curly hair.  This is no easy feat.  It involves a blow dryer, a flat iron, and about 20 minutes in in front of the mirror.  But, I took the time.  She beamed.  She hugged me and thanked me and hugged me again.

Megan would rather do math problems than pick up a book any time, so getting her to complete her daily homework assignment of twenty minutes of reading is a struggle.  For the last couple nights, she has asked that I come sit with her and read, too.   A simple thing really.  At first, I viewed it as a bothersome request.  After all, I had laundry and dishes and lunchboxes waiting for me, too.  I surrendered to the request, however, primarily out of guilt.  We've repeated this routine for three nights now and I have quickly come to cherish that time.  Tonight, for example, Megan, who is seldom still or quiet, lay against me as the glow of her Nook lit her face.  I ran my fingers through her short, curly hair and there was no sound or movement except the turning of my pages and the raindrops tapping on the window.  It was quite the opposite of annoying - it was rather calming and I look forward to the opportunity to do it again tomorrow.

Now believe me, I do not plan to sit here and declare to you that from now on things will be just like they were today.  I am a realist and I know that the busyness will return and my level of annoyance will once again rise.  But, it was truly amazing to see how this simple shift - choosing to see opportunity instead of inconvenience - changed my environment today.  The girls actually played together and spoke civilly to each other at the dinner table.  There was laughter and happiness and peace.  After they were asleep, I sat down to type this post and I was able to do it because I was not utterly exhausted or stressed about tomorrow's schedule.  The entire atmosphere in our home was different - better, lighter, happier.  My hope is that, over time, this new outlook will become more of a habit - my go-to strategy, so to speak - so that, when we get crazy busy and we are all driving each other mad, I can re-adjust my outlook.  I can remind myself to be grateful for the little things (the whole premise of the Voskamp book) and I can remember that just a little shift in outlook or attitude can make a world of difference!


Anonymous said...

Love it! I did the same thing yesterday...Ruthie had spent some time over the weekend constructing a school in her room so she could be Laura Ingalls and teach her "students" - the rest of the family members. For days she has been keeping the classroom ready waiting for her pupils to have "enough time" to come to her school. Yesterday we had school for an hour...she even had lesson plans and rules posted. It was something I wouldn't ever trade. When the kids are grown and I'm looking back on things, I'm not going to wish I had gotten that last load of laundry done...I'm going to be thinking about precious moments like this.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks!! That is so true - they won't remember if the laundry is done, but they will remember that we played and laughed!!

Martha said...

No! This blog post didn't appear in my blog roll. I was having problems with blogger yesterday - my header was uncentered and pushed to the right side. I wonder what's up?

This (post) is good advice. We've been going-going-going for some many weeks now, we all need to slow down and remember what's important.

Martha said...

You're posts are now appearing on my reader - when I just checked, it told me that I wasn't following any blogs either. but then I went out and went back in and there they all are!

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