So one of the things that really struck me while I was away on our trip was that there is such a strong need for setting the tone and keeping the rhythm in my home on a daily basis. There is very little time to let down and let go.
I always feel like if I 'miss a beat' during our daily routines that something or someone will end up suffering in the long run. I realized how regimented I have become about certain things in my family life- going to bed with a clean sink no matter what, having my kids take their shoes off any time they enter the house, being on time with meals and bedtimes- and question which ones are vital to the functioning and wellness of our family and which ones are draining me of time and energy and joy.
For the most part I believe that having a time and a place for everything is vital to family life- especially home schooling family life with four children. But I am seeking to find the small places where a bit more joy, spontaneity and leisure can be had.
Again, it seems to all come back to the idea of balance. I am not sure I really believe in 'balance' as the world sees it. You know, the kind where you mix equal parts of work, family and 'me' time in and voila, you are left with a fabulous life.
I think that this sort of balance has more to do with the ebb and flow of the day for mother and children than the overall 'big picture' of a harmonious life.
I kept asking myself how I could bottle up all of the simple, quiet moments and bouts of really being in the moment while I was away on our trip and take them back home to bring into my life as a mother and wife and thought the answer would be easy and breezy (just relax and have fun or just smile more, right?!).
But it's not. It is about being even MORE disciplined and making even tougher choices about how I will spend my time. It is about true priorities over perceived priorities and what really lends itself to the joy, health and peace of my children and home.
I have to ask myself what myself and my family truly needs. It is a tough question no doubt and I am not sure I even have the courage to ask it just yet.
But I think that it will be a lot like choosing to put down my basket of laundry to sit on the floor and play the memory game with my five year old when he asks me to and really listening to my eight year old when he is explaining all of the slight variation in the sword handles he has drawn in all ten of his sword sketches.
I love order (let me say that again- I love order!) and am so very task oriented that I tend to make that the focus of my day all in the name of meeting the needs of my children. But isn't meeting my little ones' needs for emotional and physical connection with their mother a far greater and sweeter task than simply focusing on their physical, outward needs?
Don't get me wrong. I am super big on cuddling up with and kissing my children each and every day. Not a morning goes by where the words I love you are not heard four times by the time breakfast is finished.
But again, I am talking about the big picture and the inner working of the mother here, not just the outward gestures.
It is indeed and I know that deep down inside. But sometimes it is just so much easier to fold laundry than to really listen or to put plans my plans for an afternoon of errands aside for a chance to run in an open field.
But for now, instead of tackling it all at once, I will focus on the true, small tasks working to bring a bit of ease and joy back from the West Coast into my little East Coast home.