Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just BEING

My Mom told me a story about when she had her first three children.  Before having her own she was an elementary school teacher and was used to scheduling activities and creating opportunities of play for the kids.  Naturally, as a young mother, she did the same.  She would set up the playroom like her classroom with an activity for my sister on one side, some toys in the corner for my brother and a game on the other side of the room for my oldest brother.  The kids all played happily. Success.  But then one day she saw something different and she viewed their playing in a different light. She saw one child move over to play with another and another start her own imaginary game.  Her children were creating play for themselves and they didn’t need her to create it for them.  They were just BEING children and this was just fine too.  My Mother found comfort and relief in this and while I commend her for being such a hands on mom, I am happy she discovered this for her own sake (and sanity!) and for giving us the ability and creativity to play on our own.  We were never bored on the farm.

I’m struggling to find a balance of just BEING in my family. With a Hubby that works long hours and irregular times on evenings and weekends, times allotted for our individual activities, and trying to fit in fun and exciting family experiences, just BEING gets lost in it all. I want to be able to give E new experiences and I feel like I need to create these, but they always seem to be rushed or in a limited time frame. Some may think they only reasonable option would be to drop our individual activities. But that is a balance we are not willing to give up.  It’s what keeps us balanced as individuals and happier as a family.

The biggest struggle for me is the weekend mornings with E.  I try to schedule in an activity, preferably outdoors, to wear him out so he’ll have an afternoon nap. It’s sounds bad, but it makes for a happier household for the day. E gets a nap and isn’t cranky or overtired in the evening and while he is sleeping, I get a nap in or get some things done around the house.  When Hubby gives me the heads up that he has a Saturday morning open I try to pencil in an activity to make the most of our time together as a family of three.  We go to the park or to a family outing like to the Experimental Farm, but it just always seems rushed. Rushing to get out of the house. Rushing to see and do everything on site. Rushing to get home for lunch or a nap.  I am trying to avoid rushing around; wasting time just trying to get to the next thing on the agenda and letting life pass us by.  I am also trying to avoid E developing the “only child syndrome” that Hubby has (although I don’t plan on him actually being an only child for long).

I often think about my Mother and what it would be like living in her shoes when we were young. She didn’t constantly have places to be or activities to get to, but yet she didn’t have much choice.  My Dad was working in the barn or the fields and she was home, holding the fort.  While I envy the calmness and freedom of playing on the farm and just enjoying each other rather than scheduling things all the time, I do not envy her lack of freedom and balance. 

And so I am searching for a balance with my family.  Just playing. Just lounging. Just laughing. Just cuddling. Just creating memories without have to sign up for them or schedule time for a car ride to get to them. Memories and experiences in our home and close to home without timelines.

This past Mother’s Day weekend, while Hubby was working, E and I set out to Britannia Beach for some outdoor fun.  We walked along the shore line trails and E tried to convince me that the land he saw across the water was Wolfe Island,


and that the geese that were flying were going to Wolfe Island



and that the ducks were swimming to Wolfe Island.  I let him talk away in his little dream land and soaked up his innocence. We played soccer in the fields of grass,



stopped and had lunch (we’re still working on that chewing) on the bench


and then played on the play structure in the park.  When I sensed he was getting sluggish from all the activity, sun and fresh air we packed up and headed home for a nap.  While he napped I completed the guest room turned play room transformation that I’ve been wanting to do for the last two weeks (yeah for more room!) and I got some painting and crafting projects done. 

It was such a relaxing and enjoyable day. I felt like I accomplished so much and it was a great start to my new goal.  I can’t wait to do it again and next time I hope Hubby can schedule in time to just BE with us too.

9 comments:

  1. It's such a fine balance between 'doing' and 'being'... I'm so glad you got to spend some special time with your little man :)
    We don't realize how quickly it goes by until it's gone!

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  2. Alicia, you're doing things so beautifully. Of course you need and deserve your individual times. Your family benefits from your planned activites. Everyone thrives and learns and has fun just "being". Good job, you!

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  3. Lindsay, you're right. I still can't get over that E is 2 already. Gwen, thank you. I'm trying my darnest :)

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  4. individual activities, whether they are organized or just causual like going to the coffee shop on your own once a week are essential to keeping families sane.

    i am not a tiger mom, and won't schedule the jellybean to death. though since he is and will be an only child (i'm curious to know what this syndrome your husband has...) i will put him in a few acitvities so that he does have that chance to interact with kids his age, and let's be completely honest here, so that I have a break of being the one that has to play with him. all. the. time.

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  5. Julie my Hubby constantly needs to be doing something, going somewhere or being entertained. He has a hard time just BEING. He was constantly given this as a child because he was the only child. He never just played around the house or read quietly by himself. If he wasn't doing something outside of the house, he had a friend over to entertain him. I'm trying to get through to him that it's okay to just hang out every once and a while, because I prefer to do this a lot of the time. It's a hard balance. We are so opposite in this manner. Only child vs 1 of 11.

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  6. Alicia, not convinced that's due to being an only child, but also the family dynamics. Growing up I have a brother and I still have a hard time just "being", whereas hubs has a brother, but he spent a lot of time just hanging around the houes playing with friends etc. My mom has the personality that we need to always be doing something (the slow down and you die mantra) and she was 1 of 4! So I don't think that's necessarily the difference, but rather the family's 'style'.

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  7. Good point Stephanie. Although with Hubby's family I'm still convinced it's because he grew up with his Mom and she catered to his every want, desire and need. Growing up in large family, we couldn't have these things. When you have 1 child it is much easier to "spoil" them. I think that's where his need to always stay busy comes from.

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  8. Because we don't hear this enough as moms...you're doing a great job :)

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  9. I feel like you do. I feel like I`m always trying to get some time AWAY from the kids, and yet I miss them if they actually leave. On the rare occasion that I actually sit down and CHILL with them, it`s amazing. I did it today, actually, and we laughed our heads off. But with a hubby who also works weird hours, it`s hard to single-parent all the time, when STUFF has to get done.

    I hear ya, I do. Your post was a good reminder to leave the house to get some BEING time. Without the distractions of home, I think I can be more successful. Thanks for the post!

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