Monday, April 10, 2017

Slow and Simple

It takes a measure of confidence and courage to do things differently than others. In parenting, very little makes me feel confident and courageous; we're all learning on the fly. Mistakes are made. When I see other families choosing to set their priorities in similar ways to each other, and we choose something different, I wonder if we're missing an obvious truth. I haven't always been the quickest to pick up on social cues and trends, so it makes total sense when I miss milestones like teaching my kids to tie their shoes or ride bikes at appropriate ages.

Eating well, keeping it simple.
As social beings, I think it must be natural to look to our left, look to our right, and then try to gauge where we fit in. As parents, this starts in mommy-and-me playgroups, asking other parents if their blob baby is sitting yet, cruising yet, eating peanut butter/yet/at all/ever. We want to know if we're keeping up, doing okay, missing anything. As kids get older, though, we get to/have to decide how we're really going to do this. We can choose emulating our own parents, doing what a book says, sampling a whole bunch of things to try out, reacting without much thought (life is busy, right?), or wishing ages and stages away until it gets "easier."

I admit, for the most part I enjoy doing things differently, and always have. This applies to art, dress, parenting, travelling, working, you name it. I find my own weird-sounding drum and beat it. I am susceptible to the what-ifs, the should Is, and the same confusion that accompanies most parents on their journey towards ... what are we working towards again? I lose sight of this frequently in the trenches. I wonder, sometimes, if I am doing a disservice by not teaching my girls about computers and devices when we are living in a world where every profession and relationship relies on effective use of technology and tech-relate communication. 

We don't do a lot of activities, we have only one working parent, we don't travel far, we don't renovate our house, we don't wear new clothes, we don't go to all the things or buy all the stuff. We know the answer to the question, "if we could, would we?" We started our family in the Yukon. There, we had more money, but less things to pay for. We spent a lot of time outside. We shaped a family life around hikes, road trips, hibernating in winter and exploring in the summer. We saw lots of other families did things this way, slow and simple, and we liked it. 

Here in suburban Ottawa, we don't see as many of those same attitudes mirrored in families around us. Toddlers go in strollers to get places. Many of the mamas I see dress really nicely and have cool boots. Weekends are filled with here and there and everywhere activities. Their kids seem to be really good at keeping busy with cell phone games while their parents manage to get errands done at efficient speeds. I see these things working well for them, and I wonder, are we missing something? 

A nice to spot to write and mind Summer this afternoon.

One daughter's teacher told me recently when all the kids go outside for recess, my girl bolts out the door and gathers friends for a game of dinosaur extinction, pet store or zoo. She sees kids who are weary to join in, and she shows them the way. No mean girl stuff, no boyfriends and girlfriends, just inclusive, creative play. "She has one of the best imaginations," her teacher said. I soared in joy. If I can collect these small feats every now and then, and remind myself that different doesn't equate better or worse, I may create confidence yet. Confidence in doing things our way, whatever that means on any given day or year. Confidence, I hope, in four girls who may not have the latest and greatest in things and experiences, but who will have seen what it is to listen to the still small voice within and heed its call. 

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy." -Rumi

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