Thursday, June 16, 2011
Abandoned to Joy
As I watch my children play on our vacation in Hawaii, I'm so touched by their sheer abandonment to the joy of new experiences. They give their whole attention to just enjoying the moment. Baby sister tries to scoop handfuls of pebbly, gritty sand into her mouth just to see how it feels on her gums. She splashes the same toy over and over in a bucket of water to hear the sound and feel the cold water. Big sister swims, actually swims, not wades, in the ocean for the first time. She convinces dad to rent a kayak (which she calls "my row boat") and spends a couple of hours laughing on the bow and saying "yo ho ho" pretending she's a pirate in Neverland. And, she tells her new bff, a server at our first hotel who was really kind to her several days in a row, "I love you" and gives her a huge hug. Really meaning it with her little heart.
As their mother, I'm happy they have this ability to just live in the moment, lavishly love others, and relish their surroundings. At the same time, I can't help but contrast it with my adult view of the same situations. I've been thinking recently of how my mind is always racing. I know some people who experience this have trouble sleeping and lay there at night thinking. I've been blessed with the ability to fall asleep quickly most of the time. For me, the mind racing thing happens when I wish I was able to just be. Like my kids. I tell myself that I'm going to just sit on a chair and look at the ocean for ten minutes and then I start wondering if I forgot my cousin's birthday, trying to decide whether I should bring a meal to a friend at church the day after we get home, thinking about how I'm going to sleep train baby girl (again!) when we get home, what we need from the grocery store, if spf 30 is enough for baby girl, mulling over the secret plans I'm making for our 10th anniversary.
This kind of thinking isn't contemplative or reflective; it's the ordinary junk that I turn over and over in my mind. Time to just be and just think isn't in great abundance with two little kids. This morning I stopped in the middle of my run, borrowed a pen from a stranger, and jotted down this:
Why isn't there more in my life? What do I not want to think about or face in myself? Why on vacation do I still look at my watch and hurry to the next thing? Why do I feel like I don't deserve an hour do to nothing by myself?
Maybe because even though it's a vacation version, my mental to do list is on a looped track: reapply sunscreen, change the baby's diaper, refill the sippy cups, do a load of laundry, clean up the toys, reapply sunscreen, give the kids a bath, make sure they have snacks, make sure they drink enough water, put them down for a nap, take them to the pool so they're tired enough to go to sleep tonight after those naps, reapply sunscreen, fish something out of the baby's mouth, remind big sister to stop putting things in her mouth, remind big sister to go to the potty, make dinner, do the dishes, make sure everyone has clean pjs and baths and sippy cups of water and their favorite stuffed animal and white noise and a dark room and that the sheets don't smell funny and that there aren't monsters in the closets or under the beds . . . no wonder I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. But only until I have to get up in 2 hours with my teething 10 month old who won't sleep.
It's a work in progress, but I'm trying to learn from my kids and add "let it go, enjoy yourself more, be abandoned to joy" to that list of things to do. I think I'm going to send myself a postcard with those words so I can remember to take my vacation lesson and apply it to regular life when we get home.