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Rest and routines: my life as a sheep dog

February 16th, 2004 · 3 Comments

Enoch’s post last week inspired me, along with Jay McCarthy and someone else I know changing blogrolls and blogging habits, so I decided to take a break this weekend. Not only from blogging but from laundry and cleaning, email and many things. It’s rare that we have a weekend of “nothing” to do (except Valentine’s ;)!).

After weeks of non-stop days, I crave a slow Saturday morning, making something warm for breakfast, like oatmeal or scones or perhaps pancakes or french toast. Something hot and luxurious, better than dried bits from a box, something to be dressed up with butter or jam or even maple syrup. I get up late, get the girls up late, and we take breakfast close to ten. Afterwards I want only to lounge about the living room reading newspapers and listening to the radio. I crave a different day, a day without pacing and pushing.

Sometimes I feel like I am more cattle rancher than mother, prodding and goading my children from one activity to another. A shepherd or maybe a sheep dog moving the herd from place to place. Not that we live a life like the Von Trapp family with whistles dictating discipline, regimented uniforms and strict schedules. But we do have routines we follow each day in the mornings, mellow ones, including cuddling on our living room carpet while reading books, after quiet time and before music time.

So on these rare weekend mornings of nothingness, nowhere to go, no place to be, when I take hours to dirty and clean the kitchen from that first meal of the day, puttering around the first floor in my fleece, flipping open newspapers and tuning in radio stations, I’ve noticed that my children don’t know what to do. While I’m trying to relax and enjoy a quiet morning, they fuss and cry, asking for attention. They squabble and scream. Often, on other mornings, on busier days, they will play by themselves, taking out toys or books on their own initiative, coloring and cutting out their own amusements. Many times I have to tell them no, not now, it’s time to go, time to do this or that, maybe later you can make it you can do it you can finish it another day. But on these slow Saturdays they seem to want only me. They want Mommy.

This weekend, this past slow Saturday, in the middle of the morning with dishes undone cluttering countertops, with children crying, in the midst of my frustrations, I saw what it was. Although these routines create stress for me each day, as I try to maintain momentum from A to B to C, they create comfort for my kids. Without Mommy to guide them, without explicit instructions, they don’t know what to do in a day. They need a shepherd. They need order. The routines that give me stress give my children rest.

Tags: motherhood

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tania // Feb 16, 2004 at 7:46 pm

    how true, natalie loves routine and structure…. we have to find a way though to unwind. your dream sounds wonderful.
    glad to see you blogging again.

  • 2 paul // Feb 16, 2004 at 8:22 pm

    Ah, yes, routine. I find that structure and routine are essential to *everyone’s* sanity.

    I made a lucky discovery a few months ago. I got tired of being pressed for time in the morning and decided to use before-school recess (school starts at 9, so anything before that is old-fashioned unstructured mayhem). I made up a timetable:
    8:00 dressed and at the breakfast table
    8:20 done with breakfast and getting ready to leave
    8:30 in our seats and ready to pull out of the garage.

    This gets us there by 8:40 and it works like a charm: my 6/almost 7 year old drives the schedule, since he wants the playtime. It frees me up to get lunches ready and make sure nothing is forgotten, and put the responsibility on the right shoulders.

    We sometimes have trouble getting them to amuse themselves: the more tired they are, the harder it is, so they’re happy to read for an hour or two in the morning, but bounce off the walls in the afternoon. Sometimes it helps to layout what comes next and after that, just to give some structure. Doesn’t always work . . .

  • 3 deborah housen // Feb 18, 2004 at 12:30 pm

    I just wanted to thank you for your entry on the children’s concert with the Bremerton Symphony. I passed it around at the Bremrton Symphony Board meeting, and we were all very appreciative of your comments. Thank you again, Deborah P.S I have enjoyed reading some of your other entries as well. Keep writing.