Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wait for me!

After reading some of Peter Gray's writings on hunter-gatherer systems and the way children learn, I got to thinking about slowness and how very impossible it seems in our culture. Based on his writings and so many others that I've read, like John Holt, John Taylor Gatto and Grace Llewellyn, children not only need their own time and space to explore the world around them, but they also need the adults around them to slow down and include them. In modern culture, adults are used to pushing themselves at a break-neck speed. Multitasking isn't something we just do in a crunch; exhaustion has become a status symbol and getting things done a measure of our self-worth (thanks Brene Brown).

For me, when I am home, of course the kids seem to constantly want my attention, a snack, help with an activity, but then there is also the laundry, which never gets completely done, and something to clean around every corner, the endless creativity of my children that leaves more to pick up, the desire to cook healthy food and the time that takes, the books I want to read, the blog notes I want to post, the exercise I should be getting, the friends I want to see (and impress).... My mind is constantly multi-tasking even when my body is still. And I hear from my peers that I am one of the most calm and grounded people they know, so it makes me wonder what state the rest of the world is in and what our children are really learning if I am still feeling I need to slow down in order to give the children in my life the maximum benefit.

Including children in any activity makes that activity take longer. Taking longer means less productivity and less time to just do what we want, if the activity is a "chore." Ironically, it seems like that relaxed time to just do what I want never really arrives, because I'm constantly thinking about how much time I have or how much time I "should" be allotting a given activity. And living with children is like living with a pager on at all times, putting a bit of an edge on my nerves.

The answer may seem to be that I need to scale down my life, eliminate stuff, eliminate activities, move to a smaller house, carve out more "me time," etc.... But the dilemma is that I enjoy so many activities, all the things we have, doing as much as I can for my children, the benefits of living in a larger house, and including children in my life.... What a conundrum!

The only thought that brings me any respite is that all we have is Now, and the relationships within this moment. When I bring myself into this moment and focus on the relationships in this moment, I feel peace and the certainty of knowing that All Is Well, and all is unfolding as it should. Decisions make themselves. Now is the only moment that I can truly effect, and Now is the only moment in which I can connect, and Now is the only moment in which anything matters. Here I am Now in relationship with myself and with any of you who might be reading this. At other times, when I have a list of chores and all 3 children needing something from me, I can bring myself into the Now, putting one foot in front of the other, savoring all the richness of my senses and drenching myself in that Now. Suddenly, when I am just in the moment, everything is as it should be, and life gifts me with fullness. I am able to be a sort of superhero, woman of steel, but as flexible as Mr. Fantastic. Yet, every superhero has vulnerabilities. Problems arise and dissolve. Laughter bursts through, spontaneously. Anger and hurt break down the door. Compassion arrives to carve a new, more ornate door, installed with Love. Things get done... or not. And the children in my life learn about what real life looks like as I let it unfold before us.

Children are learning all the time, as we all are. Even when we sleep, we are still processing and assimilating what we have learned. The only question is usually what we are learning. For me, being present is one of my biggest priorities so that I can see what my children are learning, better facilitate their innate curiosity, and continue to learn and grow with them.
Thank you for reading.

Jolene =)


  1. Beautifully written! I'm focusing on presence too (my word for this year is "connect"), and I love the way you describe how emotions arise and fall away when practicing mindfulness. Thanks for sharing your experience!


  2. Love to you Jolene, you inspire me!!

  3. This reminds me of the brilliant daughter of a friend of mine. At the age of 16, she has recently started classes at a local community college. Her teacher was amazed at the quality of her work, how well her essays were written and presented, her professionalism, etc. She told him she was unschooled and he looked at her with a concerned look, "Oh, I'm not sure UW accepts unschooled students..." She replied, "Maybe not, but MIT does!" :)