I’m convinced that there is nothing new under the sun. I know our Western World minds are constantly telling us to be forward thinking and progressive and change, change, change. But to what?
Parading our homes for all to see is not new. The avenue of Pinterest may be but long before computers were, women everywhere were adorning their homes with beauty. While the capacity to share your perfect dessert to the world may have been limited it didn’t stop women from wanting their pie to be perfect when guests arrived. It didn’t change the fact that they were wanting people to enjoy the fruits of their labour. We’ve been doing this for centuries.
Madeleine L’Engle wrote some 40 years ago that “the various pressures of twentieth-centurey living have made it almost impossible for the young mother with pre-school children to have any solitude” but I disagree. This wasn’t just a 20th century problem its always been. I’m quite certain 14th century mothers with small children didn’t get much alone time either. They just didn’t blog about it.
She carries on, “during the long drag of years before our youngest child went to school, my love for my family and my need to write were in acute conflict. The problem was really that I put two things first. My husband and children came first. So did my writing. Bump.”
Now we could be very quick to hop on the high road of morality and shout things that would make such a woman feel horrible for placing something she wants to do at the same level as something she needs to do. Surely caring for her husband and wee children has to come before anything. It has to come before hobbies or sport or other such frivolous things. Yes. And no.
I tell my children repeatedly that just because I praise one child for an accomplishment does not mean that I am downing the others. I may look one little in the eye and say, “Thank you for being so helpful today,” and I assure you it won’t be long before one of the others will quickly pipe up with, “Am I helpful today too, Mom?” I tell them time and again that another persons success is not their failure. Someone else receiving a good word or merit or prize does not make them any less. It is just not their time.
In the same way, one good thing in your life does not veto out another good thing and I feel this pull strongly day to day. Caring for my children and husband well (and by well I mean attending to their souls in the way that they need to be attended to, not by having picture perfection in my home or in my cooking) does not mean that the other things that I need in my life aren’t important.
I need time away more than any other person in my family but I venture to say I have a son that, when he reaches my age, might be terribly similar. I need quiet in a way that nourishes my soul and I need a lot of sleep. I know this of myself.
So this morning as the clock nears 10 and I’m still up in my room alone while the rest of my family is downstairs playing games and laughing I don’t feel guilt because I’m not down there with them. Because for me I know and they know that they come first. I and they also know (though it took them longer to learn but bless their hearts they have learned) that I also need this time apart first. They know as well as I do that this few hours for me is life giving. They know that on busy days 10 minutes of leaving me to be in my room with no knocks on doors or calls of “Mommy, Mommy! Where are you Mommy!” is needed and good for all of us.
I use to feel torn by these two. I would feel that my every waking minute needed to be there with them. I’ve learned over time that quiet is as important for my soul as they are. Taking time to be quiet is as essential for my whole family as their food on the table is. Because if I don’t (and I guarantee that many days this is a total of 3 minutes of quiet) there is no balance. One can’t give and give and give every second of every day without requiring a moment to refuel. I would assume that this is why many turn to various substances. They are constantly outpouring and need something for them and what seems to work to make them happy is a pill or a drink or something that is recharging them to give out more. To carry on. To keep going.
So the laundry is never quite finished and our meals (though nutrient packed) should never be photographed and if you would look behind the desk you would find bunnies of dust that haven’t been vaccuumed up since I started back to work in September. I know they’re there. But they don’t win. Soul nourishing wins. Life giving wins.
I know I can’t upload a photo of that and make you jealous. I know you wouldn’t repost/pin/share/like/tweet what it looks like for me to just be in this circle of quiet. I assure you its not as pretty as a perfectly decorated mantel complete with vintage books and well-placed candles. What I do know is that it’s good here.