Thursday, April 9, 2009


1 : pleasing or picturesque in natural simplicity
: of, relating to, or being an idyll:
1 a: a simple descriptive work in poetry or prose that deals with rustic life or pastoral scenes or suggests a mood of peace and contentment

K and I had a nice day today: It's been a beautiful spring day, with blue skies, warm sun and a light breeze. A left something in the car this morning, so I put K in the stroller and we walked over to the school and took the long way home. After lunch, K wanted to watch a movie and asked me to join her. Surprisingly, I did. It wasn't my favorite movie fare, but as a bonus we watched it in bed and K let me snooze for 15 minutes alongside her. Later in the day, she wanted to ride her bike and wanted me to watch her. She waited patiently, sitting on her bike on the sidewalk, while I finished loading the dishwasher. Then I sat on the porch and watched her pedal her way back and forth.

When I relayed all of this to J, he said it sounded idyllic. I laughed and replied, "Well, I've also swept and mopped all of the downstairs floors and the stairs, while doing three loads of laundry. I think an idyllic day would involve less work!" But after reading the definition of idyllic, I must admit that he may be right. It certainly was a day "pleasing ... in natural simplicity."

A few nights ago, I went out with some friends. During our time together, we discussed, in part, what our standards are as mothers for time spent with our children. Specifically, time spent playing with our children. One friend talked about how her children deserved more of her time than they get, while another brought up how our expectations surrounding this issue have changed dramatically in recent decades. When moms got together 50 or 60 years ago, I seriously doubt they discussed whether they spent enough time playing board games or Barbies with their children. Instead, their days probably looked a lot like my day today: time spent with my daughter, but interspersed and alongside work.

There is a natural simplicity to children playing alongside mothers as they accomplish their work. This type of activity allows mothers to interact naturally with their children and seize teachable moments like counting the eggs that go into the cake. It also allows children autonomy to play in a childlike way without adult direction or interference.

I sound fairly confident of this, don't I? Yet I question my need to nourish myself and wonder whether I cross the line from self-care to selfishness. There is a cultural perception that mothers are meant to be mothers first and women second. But I'm not sure that is healthy or helpful.

When J said my day was idyllic, I instantly pictured a day where K and I played together, took a walk together, picnicked together, etc. Of course, in my mental picture, the house was clean, the laundry was folded and the dishes were done. This idyllic picture will never be reality. If I wait until I have everything done to snatch moments with my daughters, it will never happen. So instead, I'll enjoy the moments with them alongside me and remind myself of the natural simplicity of mother and child side-by-side, living life together. That gives me a peace and contentment that I can have every day.


Chocolate, Vanilla and Caramel said...

Thanks so much for your encouraging comment on my homeschooling post. I completely agree. I too am so willing to do whatever God wants me to do if it's the best thing for my family. There are many sacrifices I've made over the years and I don't regret any of them. It doesn't mean motherhood has always been easy, but sometimes the things that require the most sacrifice (marriage!, kids, etc.) are the very things that bring the most joy. My biggest hurdle in even considering homeschooling was giving up that dream I had of all the free time I would gain once my kids went to school. I've always pictured myself using those quiet mornings to write magazine articles while drinking tea. :) Once I sort of gave up that nice idea, I was okay. I'm actually getting excited about it.

I've been quite amazed at how many people either have considered, or are considering homeschooling in some form. I've received many more positive comments than I have "you're crazy" comments. :)

Thanks again for your comments. I always love reading them.

Chocolate, Vanilla and Caramel said...

I love how you describe "playing" with your daughter -- how playing and a mother's work around the home naturally fit together. That's how I tend to play with my kids. There are times I sit down and help them build Legos or play a game of Candyland, but much of the time they are running around doing their own thing (as much as a 2 year old and 4 year old can do their own thing!) while I am working. Most often, their playing is close by whereever I am. I sometimes feel like I should be more hands-on, but they are so creative, I like for them to have to create their own fun instead of relying on me for all of it. I appreciated so many of your thoughts it this post.