November 13, 2012 by Julia
Lately I find the kids and myself in a kind of limbo between active playing and active working. We are just being.
I don’t mean that in a meditative or deep way. Let me describe what “being” looks like in our house, on a late afternoon.
We are puttering around in Jack’s room. He alternates between whining at me, trying to stick his finger in a socket, and playing with various toys for 30 seconds at a time. I sit on the floor and point out new things to him, sneak some kisses, while sort of putting away clothes, straightening up anything within arm’s reach. Fiona might be on the leather couch, daydreaming while looking out the window, dumping toys just for the heck of it, probably saying she wants alone time with me, which is not an option while Jack is awake. I am contemplating all the things I should get up and really focus on. I feel guilty about not engaging the kids in real play. I am also too tired to move to another room to fold laundry or plan dinner. I know, however, that if I stop moving altogether the kids will sense an opening and a war will erupt over me. Sometimes they’ll bounce on my back as I lie on my stomach, and that’s kind of like a deep-tissue massage. But when the screaming starts and my long-limbed daughter starts throwing her elbows and knees around, no one is having fun, and it no longer feels flattering that they both want to be in my lap at the same time.
And then there’s the limbo that happens when Fiona has to go potty upstairs but is too “scared of her dreams” to go up by herself, which means I have to stop whatever I’m in the middle of to either yell at her that it’s daytime and there is absolutely no reason to be scared of a hand crawling around by itself in the daytime while she hysterically screams and eventually wets her pants (I assume – we rarely make it to that point), OR I can just resignedly stop whatever I’m doing and get our whole caravan upstairs and keep Jack from trying to dive headfirst into an empty bathtub or playing with the toilet scrubber or unrolling toilet paper or or or or or (there are so many terrible possibilities in bathrooms) while Fiona pees and then asks for help pulling her pants up, which we argue over again because I would prefer that she not be dependent on her mommy for life, and then she sloooooowwwwly washes hands while Jack tries to open the toilet back up, and then I have to drag a twisting screaming Jack out of the bathroom of wonders and back down the stairs so that I can realize two minutes later he has pooped and I have to go right back up to use the changing table. That kind of limbo is a little less relaxing than the “lying around not really playing or accomplishing anything” limbo.
The similarity between both limbos is that nothing is getting done. I can’t check anything off my list. I can’t even check “quality time with the kids” off my list, because it certainly doesn’t feel like that, either. Which leaves me with the question – is there value to this time of feeling listless together at home? I tend to believe there is value to almost every experience in life. Sometimes we may not realize it until that aspect of our daily life is gone.
Anyway, I refuse to turn this post on something that is not actually inspiring me into a Hallmark card. I just wanted to label it, so that maybe it will become another item I can cross off my list.