Politicians speak of incrementalism as if it’s pure evil, probably because they know they’ve got to work fast before the pendulum swings in the next election. Here in my world, though, tiny steps are wondrous — and necessary.
Although I am still capable of having a rotten day — and of feeling momentarily undone by it — more and more I am finding my center in my new role. It helps that I’ve learned a fistful of recipes that I can reliably execute. But beyond that, I’m learning to be interruptable. I’m learning to lighten up a little and watch the clock less. I’m learning to enjoy my childrens’ company and prioritize that enjoyment over mundane concerns like having a clean house and crossing things off my to-do list. And when tasks have to get done, I am learning to include my children in the tasks. Akiva responds very well to this habit and will assent to just about any request if we are already basically in harmony. And what keeps us in harmony, by and large, is being present with each other.
When I am at my best, parenting is a spiritual practice for me.
Some adventures of late:
We have been walking to the bank and/or the post office. We go through the woods. We take our time and look at things. It’s much more fun when I actually hear Akiva say in reference to an upturned tree root, “Oh cool! That looks like deer antlers. Awesome.” And when Gideon asks to come out of the stroller, I just accept that the walk will take even longer, but that we’ll see even more things. In addition to the deer antlers, we’ve seen several mysterious slugs, the largest dragonfly this side of the Carboniferous, and several intriguing fungi. (We desperately need to make friends with a mycologist.)
When I need to move them along, I make up a song and invariably, Gideon asks me to sing it again.
We have gone to the Lowell Folk Festival to see a klezmer band. I was nervous about being on my own with the kids in such a crowded and unfamiliar setting, but they were magnificent. And the klezmer was so good, Akiva asked if we could go again the next day, which we did.
Of necessity I have had to take them to synagogue on my own these days. Bill is working Saturdays, and the high school kid who usually helps us has been traveling this summer. The boys stay with me during the short service, we go down for snacks so everyone can kvell over them, and then we leave early when the Torah study begins in earnest. I will be glad when I’m able to bring some backup along again, but there is so much of value to be had from taking them, and I love the way they are embraced by the community, with all their age-appropriate disruptiveness.
I’m beginning to be able to enjoy the moments with my kids.