"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Today I Sat

I'm not very good at sitting still. Which is ironic, since I am so often just longing to sit, even for a minute. As a busy mom of four kids, my sitting time is limited. But, sitting is not my forte. I'm ... antsy. I'm a fidgeter. I'm a daydreamer. I'm easily distracted. Unless I have a really engrossing book (and am in the correct mood to read and pay attention to said book), I find sitting difficult. I have no doubt that if I were a kid in school today, that I'd be labeled with ADD or ADHD or some other such disorder. As an adult, I'm well aware that my long-standing attachment to caffeine has less to do with enjoyment, and more to do with self-medicating. It takes off some of the edge. And it makes sitting more tolerable.

Today I took all four kids to Spencer's orthodontist appointment (when, I might add, I was not fully caffeinated) Ordinarily, Mike takes the morning or afternoon off so I don't have to bring all the kids, but today he had a meeting that he couldn't miss.

So off we went.

And it went fine. I mean, it's an orthodontist appointment. Nothing too terribly stressful or strenuous. Still, it was an hour in the waiting room, trying to keep the three year old happy. We played with the beads on the bead-racer-thing, and made our hand prints on the hand-print-doodle-thing, and we colored on my phone, and we sat and we stood, and we watched the movie that was playing (The Sound of Music, my mother's all-time favorite movie) And when Spencer finally came out of the exam room, I was ready and thankful to be going home.

When we got out to the car, everyone climbed in, and Tegan sat not in her carseat, but on the seat next to her car seat.

I told her, "Let's jump in your seat so I can buckle you up."

"No, I want to sit here." It should be noted that she said this very matter-of-factly, and sweetly.

I reminded her that her car seat was the safest place for her to sit, and that I wanted to keep her safe.

"No, no. I know that," she told me. "I'll sit in my seat when we leave. Right now I want to sit here."

"But we're leaving now."

"But I want to sit here first."

Silence. I really wanted to go home, and knew that if I answered her right then I wouldn't be nearly as patient and kind as I wanted to be. I also knew that if I let her sit there for awhile, but acted all huffy and irritated about it, that the act would be completely counterproductive. It would do her, and myself, no favors. So I waited.

One of the complaints that some readers had about my Protecting Natalie post was that I came across as feeling somehow superior, as though I never had bad days or bad moments as a parent myself.

I have bad days.

I have bad moments.

And these moments are actually the moments I struggle with the most... the moments when my kids are simply asking me to be still.  As much as I love the idea of stillness, and the concept of stillness... the practice of stillness sometimes still really eludes me.

And I want to do better.

We had nowhere to be.  It was 4:00 in the afternoon.  Mike wouldn't be home for another hour and a half.  We were getting takeout for dinner, so no one had to cook.   There was absolutely no reason we couldn't sit there for awhile.  My desire to be home (for no other reason than the fact that I was tired and sensed out and antsy) did not, and should not, supersede the desires of my daughter and her three brothers, who were happy to just ..... sit .... at least for awhile.

So I got in the front seat, and told her - calmly, happily - that we could sit, and to let me know when she was ready to go.  I read a little bit of the book I'd brought with me, Everett looked through my CDs and picked some music for the ride home, and the older boys played with their DSes.

And Tegan?  She just SAT, happily, like she wanted to.

Five minutes later, she'd had enough sitting and climbed into her car seat.   I buckled her in, and we headed home... all five of us calm and refreshed.

My mind had fought mightily against staying and sitting, but my instinct had told me to be still.   So I stayed.  I sat.  And it was good.


Alice said...

Love this. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to just be still. I hope I handle this as kindly and generously as you did the next it happens in my car.

Jessica said...

This is AWESOME!

JoAnn said...

Fantastic! You so totally rock. :)


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