In the photo, my son is asleep next to our dog after an unscheduled afternoon of playing on the living room rug together. Downtime and unscheduled time at home is something I am both afraid of and something I crave. In a parenting culture that thrives on keeping kids busy and entertained, allowing boredom and rest to be part of a weekend or after school have become characteristics of parenting upstream.
It’s in the simple activities and slow afternoons that I am discovering my real power as a parent. The more I know my children, spend time puttering with them, or allow them to putter in the same space with me, the more connected we become.
Last night I got to attend a mother-daughter celebration with other mothers and their daughters. We sang, banged on drums, and shared small tidbits about ourselves with each other and the group. It was wonderful. Interestingly, it was the time that followed that was the most endearing for me. Bel and I were chilled from the spring night and readied ourselves for sleep, got our books, and read, snuggled in my bed together.
Spending simple time with her feels right despite the fact that we are such different people. It shouldn’t be surprising that she agreed without a lot of hoopla to put her clothes away the next morning. I can feel when we are in “right relationship” with each other. It is the connection that we share and the “knowing” of the other that is helping me to parent her. As her compass point, she wants to be cared for, to be guided, and to cooperate. I confidently take the lead and she happily follows.
It isn’t always so easy. I too have felt like parenting is getting harder and I have struggled with feeling like I must resort to yelling and start thinking I need rules and consequences to bring back order to squelch chaos.
The truth is mama, what I am understanding from my own experience is that the relief to the challenges of parenting come from putting into practice some very basic tenets. Attachment is about relationship. We love relationship so this shouldn’t be so difficult! However, we also have created lives that pull us away from creating right relationship – our lives are very full and so are the lives of our children.
It isn’t more consequences, it’s more connection, that brings back the calm. It’s the less meetings, birthday parties, festivals, play dates, restaurants, outings, and constant doing that bring us back to what is most important – – being. Just being. It is in the “being” that you bring about what nature intended, a fellow human being whom you enjoy and who has the downtime to reflect on who they are and who they are becoming.
Let’s be real. It’s just not possible to slow down everything at once. Baby steps and ebb and flow – that’s my motto. There will be afternoons, or days, or weeks, or maybe even months that you simply cannot slow it down. What I have learned from this experience is that my children become more demanding, whining, entitled, and defiant when the sacred space of just being has been replaced by all the doing, preventing us from deepening in relationship.
To know someone is to spend time with them.
To know someone is not about entertaining them.
When we’re in right relationship there is cooperation.
I’m reflecting more these days on being in right relationship and I would love to explore this with other intentional mamas. If you’re intrigued, join me, starting this May, in several venues for discussion. If slowing down sounds like what you need, or sounds scary, or even impossible,you might want to check out the conversations listed on my coaching page.