Monday, June 23, 2008

Life in the Slow Lane

Lots of people look at me with four little kids 5 and under and say, wow, you must be busy. Yes, and no. There are endless housekeeping tasks, but I've really just been going for basic maintenance. Everyone fed and clothed? Good enough. There is a lot of very proactive parenting to be done in order to maintain harmonious relationships among all the littles, but Amirah and Eli are already pretty well-versed in that so it's mostly just Raizel that I really need to continuously coach. So in that sense, yes we're very busy!

But, there's another way in which we are not at all "busy." First of all, because it takes 90 minutes to dress everyone and change 3 diapers, you can't be in a hurry to get anywhere. So you get on a sock, and another sock, look for the missing sock, and hope that you still know where your keys are. Even if my mind is thinking at warp speed (or trying to), everything else is actually moving kind of weirdly slowly.

This busy/not busy contrast hit me most when we had spent the afternoon at a wading pool. It took a while to pack up all of our stuff, get the kids out of the pool and the playground, get them all into their car seats, and drive home. But I never rushed it. It probably took 45 minutes to leave the park that day, and definitely a good bit longer than that to leave the house in the first place, but even gathering them all into the car and driving home is just part of our life together and not a quick trip to the next thing, or a stressful ingathering of unwilling subjects.

Another thing I believe makes a difference - I have a single role to play with two parts, to be a good wife to my husband and to be a good mother to my children. I love these jobs, and I'm not trying to juggle multiple kinds of demands. I don't have the kids enrolled in eighteen thousand summer activities. Our only scheduled thing is two weeks of swimming lessons. Our days are definitely full, but only as full as we want them to be.

I'm sure ten years from now I'll say the years have flown by. But one week after Amirah's 5th birthday, I can still say that they have honestly not flown by. I have experienced and savored almost all of her five years right along with her. Our life is relatively simple, relatively stress-free, and really pretty peaceful.

Shalom bayit - peace in the home and peace between husband and wife - is one of the highest Jewish ideals, and great lengths are taken to preserve it. The word "shalom" also means "whole." Our lives are whole, not fragmented. I also really believe that shalom bayit is almost entirely dependent on the wife. It really is up to us to make our homes warm, welcoming and relaxing sanctuaries for all who enter. I am very pleased to be the gatekeeper in this holy place.


Jesi and Joe said...

What a great post and a fabulous perspective! I love the idea of keeping things peaceful and enjoying ALL of the parts of the day. It takes us so long to get the kids fed, diapered, dressed and into the car, that most of their non-nap time is spent doing that and then preparing them for their next nap or bed. Best to enjoy the time together!

Love it!

Kate in NJ said...

Oh K., Your kids are all gorgeous!!
I am so glad they are all home with you now! (hugs)

Andrew & Rebecca said...

That was a beautiful post! I will revisit this when I have our two little ones home and start to feel overwhelmed. You summed up how I always want our home to be.
Lovely, Kerith!


Selah said...

I do remember the days with four at five and under. I admire your calmness and wish I had been that calm. I agree with you that savoring each moment is a gift. Now that mine are 7 years ahead I often long for the days when they were just "mine" and other growing up things were not part of our life. The days have flown and I would live them all over again if I could. I, like you, love being a momma and wife... I am just amazed at how the time does go... I can't believe I will actually have a child in jr high this year. That was always for parents there were " older" :) Yeah, I have some things I don't like to admit to myself...:) Best to you--Kimberly