This summer I have had a lot of time with my kids…in the house…just the house…for long periods of time. Let me tell you, it has opened my eyes to a new level of tired and a new level of closeness.
Last Friday, I was in a completely grumpy mood. I woke up to the news (late, because I don’t actually watch the news I have to catch it on my yahoo! feed whenever I happen to login) of a person who took selfish liberty to rain down evil on innocent people in a very inhumane way. I will not linger here because that is not my point. My point is that I was super grumpy because someone took away my feeling of security. That made me angry. Since anger is a secondary emotion, I realized that it was actually fear that I felt and therefore, grumpiness. Don’t hurt yourself trying to follow that.
I knew that I needed to get a grip on my grumpiness soon, because otherwise it might spread and I certainly did not want that to happen. We already have cabin fever around here in the heat without adding grumpiness in the mix. So, I decided to just hunker down and let my little monkeys set the pace for the day. What I discovered was that when I let go a bit, there is a quiet joy just waiting to be enjoyed. I know things eventually need to get done and that life isn’t just one big romper room, but next time I need a boost of joy I need to remember these things:
1. Surrender – There is much to be said about letting go of control just a bit. This is not to be confused with “losing control.” I am pretty sure that losing control never results in anything positive, but letting go just a bit can be really freeing. I know that “we don’t live in a barn” or “those dishes won’t wash themselves,” but I think the dishes might be just fine sitting in sink for a few hours and maybe those clothes might have a bit of wrinkle in them when you go to hang them up, but so what. On my grumpy day, I decided to let some stuff go until after the kids were down and just see what happened when I let go a bit. Trust me, I kept wanting to do them, to clean up, but then that would take me away from what my kids were up to and that was a lot more fun. We ended up playing “trick or treat” in their little Step 2 house for longer than I can even remember. It was so fun and wow, my four-year old is so creative!
2. Stop Planning – We were supposed to go get haircuts. That never happened. Instead, my kids were in their pj’s pretty much all day. Trying to get the ship moving in another direction was going to take an act of Congress and since I failed Political Science in college (yes, I took it over and passed it…barely) I don’t even know how much work that would take. What I do know is that it was way more work than I was willing to put in and so I just stopped trying to fit a plan into my day and let the cards fall where they may. I don’t think having a couple of scruffy kids for a few more days was really going to make that big of a difference.
3. Be a kid – I may be an old soul, but I know how to play with my kids. We always have the most fun when I get down on the floor on their level and join whatever game my four-year old comes up with. Me and the little one follow suit and everyone wins. Kids don’t want you to be big when they are playing something like “race cars” or “pirates” they want you to join their adventure and that means putting on the pirate hat, carrying around a pouch full of doubloons and capturing those scallywags for goodness sake! Whenever my kids start getting restless or we need to change something up, I get on the floor and devote my attention to them and things go sunny in a matter of minutes. It’s more work than sitting in a chair and pretending to be involved, but it’s the stuff they remember at the end of the day. And I can still Facebook in between cannon launches.
4. Receive – All day long, my kids are speaking to me and giving me their love. They may not always use words to communicate it, but they are speaking. Something as simple as putting stickers all over mommy’s shirt can communicate that they feel safe with me. My little one likes to grab a book and climb in my lap to flip the pages. I know she feels safe there. I can feel her sink back against me and get all cozy as she turns the pages and squeals in delight when she comes to the page with the puppy. My son likes to invite me into his adventures and likes me to sit with him if he is watching a show. I know he enjoys my company and that quality time is important to him. I receive these things by being still in those moments and not letting anything else take my attention away during that time. And, yes, it is hard not to want to get up and put a few dishes in the dishwasher or grab my phone, but I know there is a little nugget of joy waiting for me to savor. The joy that is always there. The joy that I have to be still to find.
The rest of my Friday was less grumpy. I wasn’t jumping up and down happy – I just felt so heavy for those families and still do – but my grumpiness did fade. At the end of the night when I went to get into my pj’s, I looked at the shirt I wore that day with little stickers all over it and thought of the little hands that put them there and I felt joy.