Not all that long ago, when I was a mother to an energetic toddler and no one else, I really struggled. Not because I was so busy, but because I was so...not busy. You see, I had this idea that every waking moment, I should be doing something productive. But my house could only get so clean, and my particular toddler wasn't ready for integral calculus. He seemed happy enough piling things on the coffee table, and reading an endless supply of books with his mommy.
But shouldn't his time be directed into doing more learning activities? Shouldn't we be going to a daily playdate? Really, shouldn't he be getting more socialization? What, oh what was I doing wrong? What was I missing? And why did I feel like I never had any peace? Hobbies I had before enjoyed, I stopped doing. I was paralyzed with guilt. I began to understand why a mom would want to go to work, so someone else could entertain her children. But the thought of sending my son with anyone else sent shivers up my spine. So, I consulted myself with watching out the window for my husbands car to pull up at 5.
I remember emailing the writer of a blog I adored asking for advice. What am I supposed to be doing with this child of mine? I wrote. I never received a reply, and at the time I was a little offended. But now, I think no answer was probably best. Because I needed to find out some truths on my own.
Now I am a mother to an energetic three and a half year old, and an equally energetic seventeen month old. And we still have down time, and my house can still only get so clean, and as much as I've pushed him, Fritter is still not ready for integral calculus. But I've learned that the peace I have so often prayed for has been within reach all along.
What's changed? My expectations mostly. Learning to stay in the moment. And realizing that it really is ok for me to sit back and read a book, or play my guitar. And when I do, my children usually run in with drums and xylophones of their own. I won't always have this time. My children will soon enough grow up, and I'll be running them to soccer and dance lessons. And I look forward to that time...and I don't.
Because right now, my children are mostly happy, and when they are not, that's ok. Because, really who is happy all the time? And is it my job to make them happy, or to love and comfort them and guide them to heaven? I no longer strive to entertain them all day. And I bask in admiration for the ingenuity of my seventeen month old who delights in putting and taking blocks out of a bucket. Because she is learning, and entertaining herself. And how privileged is she that she has the time to do that? And I love knowing my son has enough time to climb to the top of his jungle gym and stare at the clouds and daydream. And when we go to playdates, it's because we want to, not out of any sense of guilt that my children aren't getting enough.
We do not usually have noise going on in the background to drown out the silence. I turn the radio or iPod on when I want to listen, and then off again when I'm done. The noise we make is our own, and sometimes it's fairly quiet. And peaceful. It's in these moments, I'm allowed to hear the birds in the backyard, or someone mowing their lawn. Or, best of all, the happy sound of my children playing.
I'm only the mother of two right now, and I have much to learn. But I have found my peace.