Today is Tuesday.
On Tuesdays, my 10-year-old son (Nathan) goes to public school and my teen Irish-twin girls go to the farm to spend the day with their grandparents. Goats are kidding during this time of the year, so they'll sometimes be in the barn and sometimes in the house.
I'm not exactly sure what they'll be working on in the house, but my 14-year-old daughter (Emily) took two spools of blue thread with her this morning and my 15-year-old daughter (Rachel) was excited to show off her homemade envelope idea.
Most Tuesdays, I while my morning away at the courthouse covering local government meetings for the community newspaper, one of many part-time gigs that pepper my week in-between managing the home and family. In the afternoons, I typically enjoy a fairly uninterrupted chunk of time to work on writing projects for my business.
I'm currently sitting at my kitchen table typing on my laptop, having brewed spiced apple chai tea in a mug featuring my artist friend's "Red Milo" batik painting. I've answered some emails, gathered paperwork for a meeting this afternoon, and am preparing an invoice.
I'm terribly distracted. My motivation is not with my to-do list. The curtains are closed on my picture window, and I've covered my rug loom with a blanket to narrow my focus. But now all I can hear is my fridge murmuring and the clock ticking.
I've been home with my kids day in and day out for the past couple weeks while everyone's activities took a holiday break. We slipped into a comforting daily routine of peaceful coexistence: spending most days at home, sleeping in a little, preparing and eating meals together, doing housework as a group, problem-solving challenges together, welcoming my husband home from his full-time job, playing board games and watching TV as a family, ending the day with me reading aloud from a book as they drift off to sleep. Much of this routine continues after holiday break, too, but the lack of outside commitments has been nice.
I do look forward to when music lessons and homeschool group activities come back onto the calendar. We very much enjoy spending time with our friends. Having a like-minded community with other parents is vital to my well-being as a parent. I know that I need that web of encouragement and support.
But I will miss the relative leisure and quiet of this holiday break, the easy flow of days spent together at home. Westernized culture, despite its conveniences and privileges, inadvertently disconnects family life.
Mentally, I grasp ahold of the calm and connection to be my anchor in the busy days and weeks ahead. This will be my "why" when I set limits on how many outside activities we each participate in, when I consider new work projects, when I insist that the family keeps sacred our evenings together, when I read "another page please" at bedtime.
Remember your "why." This is probably the most crucial advice I've ever received from someone regarding my parenting approach. The advice wasn't even directed at me, yet this has stayed with me through the years and has been applicable throughout my life. Why do I do what I do? Why do raise my kids this way? Why do these values and convictions matter so much to me?
Life will be tough at times. You will meet resistance in your community circles, in how our Westernized culture operates, in your own desires. Remember your "why." Keeping your heart and mind wrapped around this anchor point will keep you and your family going in the right direction despite the distractions.
I better get back to that invoice and other work assignments. I must be wrapped up by late afternoon when my children and husband come back home. I have an evening of family connection to look forward to.
~ Rita, editor of #normalizenurturing