When January hits I begin yearning for the month of March, and now that it is here I can’t seem to keep up to what it brings. March is the spark of light in the darkness; the beginning of the end of the meditative winter season, the time when we compile to-do lists for the coming year. For me, March is akin to hump day (aka Wednesday) during the week. It is the point where I’d better get my act together or else Friday (aka SUMMER BREAK) will be here with no sign of productivity for the week. As a mother, my internal clock runs not on a calendar year, but on the September-June school year, and I am beginning to feel rushed to get some things crossed off of my yearly “to-do list” before it is too late. As much as I try to deny it, I am a natural procrastinator, so if I start putting things off until tomorrow, somehow two months will have already passed and then I’ll really be in trouble.
The longer days are giving me hope that the frost on the ground will soon have passed, and flowers will bloom and bring back birdsongs and the sound of rustling leaves in the wind. This week is Spring Break in our town, and I am not going to do anything extraordinary, and that’s just fine with me. I Spoke at our gathering place, www.uufcc.com today about what I do instead of going on vacation for Spring Break. Here is what I said:
As a stay-at-home mother, I am always at my workplace, and my work is never finished. Often when I have completed a task, such as washing the dishes, I will have more dirty plates needing to be washed after I have drained the sink and started onto another task. And laundry! Have you seen the many combinations and fashion statements two girls can create in just one day? I must admit, at times, the daily “to-do” list can become overwhelming and my mind will wander to the thoughts of exotic destinations and new adventures. What I have come to realize, though, is that the planned vacation can become more stress than relaxation. First there is the jotting down of lists, where I pick my brain for anything and everything we might possibly need on our excursion. Then there’s the packing of everything on the lists, and the travelling and the arriving and unpacking everything that had just been packed. While enjoying our destination, I’ve got to keep a sharp eye so nobody gets lost, and I’ve got to keep an eye on the clock in order to make the most out of our limited time in the new place, so we are able to do everything we’d like. I usually need a vacation from my own vacation, and that leads me to think I’m doing something terribly wrong!
Instead, I enjoy travelling to new places within the comfort of my own home. As a part of our bedtime routine, I read aloud to my children, and sometimes they read aloud to me. I am sure many believe that reading aloud is too old fashioned and children today are too busy to stop and simply listen to the meter of a poem or the long chapters of a novel. What’s simple is true, though, and reading is something that can be enjoyed by any level reader. It is a much cheaper escape than an exotic vacation, and proves to be little hassle to snuggle in to some covers and take the time to read and unwind. In a world that encourages constant multitasking, reading helps us step away from all of the “screens of distraction” that we have become accustomed to. Taking the time to read can be therapeutic, forcing us to slow down and focus on one thing, which in turn helps us connect to the world around us in a new way.
The list of things that I didn’t get done during the day becomes less important, when I hear giggles of delight from my daughter while she is listening intently to Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” Reading not only takes us to new places and teaches us new words to expand our vocabulary; it helps connect parent and child in a setting empty of struggle. It is important for children to interact with their parents in a way that is not always negative.
I am easily frustrated with my kids, and I scold them often, perhaps too often. But when we read together we become almost like shipmates, sailing on the sea of a book, trekking the course together in friendship. Often times we think we are too busy to bother with reading aloud for pleasure, we make excuses, thinking our kids are too old to want to listen to someone reading to them, but try it! I have found it makes a world of difference. Not only does reading connect me to my children, it gives me a new perspective on life. My children will not always be young. When they are grown, I doubt they will thank me for keeping the house to hospital standards of cleanliness, or ordering them around so they’ll stay on schedule when we actually do travel to a new place. But I sincerely hope they treasure the memories of our nightly ritual of reading aloud, and see the possibilities of renewal within a storybook, just as I have learned to see.