Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stop & Smell the Roses

It's a cold and rainy Tuesday in May. The dog's crossing his legs so he doesn't have to venture out in the rain. The children are tired of rushing off to school and rushing back to face homework. Dad's working long hours and travelling a lot, and Mom's just plain burned out and sick of the whole grind. I guess that makes us a typical suburban family of four....plus dog.

We seem to be rushing more and more as the months go by. Rush to get up and get ready for school. Rush to run errands and do the 18 million chores I need to do to keep the household running before the boys get home from school. Rush to prepare dinner, then rush to clean up the kitchen after dinner and help with homework. Rush the boys through showers and PJs so they can have 30 minutes to read before we rush to do lights out and go to sleep so that we can rush to wake up and start all over again the next day!

Is it any wonder I'm burned out and sick of it all? What happened to fun and family time? Call me crazy, but I don't consider studying for tests or reviewing homework to be great Mother/Son bonding time. What happened to the wonder of childhood, the freedom to explore and question, time to lay in the grass and see what kind of images the clouds can form, or time to wander through the library discovering authors we've never read? We rush and hurry and hurry and rush like the White Rabbit in Alice and Wonderland. Where did all that rushing get him, anyway? I probably rushed through that book and can't remember!

There was a time, not too terribly long ago, when I walked 3 or 4 times a week. I walked for the good of my health, but also to get out and about and away from my desk. People told me I should really be jogging - it's so much better for your heart, they would say. But I preferred walking precisely because it was slower so I could take the time to see things. Over time, I watched buds form on trees and grow into leaves. I watched flowers bloom and noticed when homeowners planted new patches of grass. I noticed new patterns of sun and shade as the months went by, then watched the leaves change color and fall to the ground. In short, I noticed the cycles of nature and life, and I loved it. Time seemed to move more slowly and I seemed to have lots of time to do what I needed to do. What happened?

As I watched a dinosaur movie at the Science Center today, I realized that time is moving at the same rate it always has...I haven't seen any news flashes that the day now has 20 hours instead of 24 or that the year now has 300 days instead of 365. Well, I reasoned, if time is moving at the same rate, then it must be me who's moving faster and faster. So why don't I just slow down?
And if I slow down won't my children follow in my footsteps? Do we really have to DO so many things? Can't we simply put aside some time to just BE? Hmmmmm.

Yes, we're a suburban family. We rush through the school year and then rush to sign our children up for lots of summer camps, then rush to get them to and from said camps, then rush to get them back into school. This year I vow to be different.

This year I vow to limit the weeks of summer camps and days committed to someone else's schedules. This year I vow to keep some weeks sacred for simple hang around family time and risk having my children think they're bored. This year I vow to bring back the wonder and magic of childhood for my boys. I vow to remind us all to marvel at the cycles of nature, to linger in the garden without pulling weeds, to chase after butterflies, to blow bubbles all afternoon, to catch lightening bugs in the evenings, and to play games with my boys - not because they're educational or trendy or the latest and greatest, but simply because they're fun.

Then maybe, just maybe, I'll have the wisdom and courage to say "no" to more obligations when the school year begins again. And maybe, just maybe, next year won't be so rushed.

Perhaps you'll consider joining me in this vow? Perhaps we can all stop and smell the roses a bit more. Better yet, perhaps we can actually plant some roses!

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