Thursday, August 15, 2013

From Zero to Hero

I just read something that really resonated with me.

This truth really hit me week before last but I couldn't articulate it as simply as this. I just was feeling really lame in my parenting. I had gotten pretty completely lazy about monitoring how much time the girls were spending playing on the computer, watching the TV, or playing on one of our phones. I got mighty comfy just letting them chill while I did my super important stuff (read: Checked Pinterest for more ways to make my life better in Every.Single.Way!). I was well aware of my mediocrity and mostly just felt crappy about it and resolved to accept that I had just wasted an opportunity to do well. But it dawned on me that I could do something different. All was not lost! The girls weren’t on their way to “juvy” just yet and there was still some chance for each of us to lead productive and interesting lives once again.

That very morning I was on FB (checking super-important geo-political updates no doubt) when I saw a post from my friend Kate in New England. She admitted to falling into a similar lack of awesomeness in mama-monitoring and had just instituted a new rule in their home: No tech or screens of any kind from 10am to 4pm every day. Brilliance right in front of me. I copied her plan instantly, as I often like to do from the smart people I know, and made this little rule our own. I'll add that our entire summer wasn't one big wasteland of brain-drain. We kicked things off with a long vacation followed by two weeks of daily swimming lessons. We were something back then. But then came August...

Instituting my new rule felt good instantly. It was great to see the girls follow the rules and leave technology alone. But when I found them staring off into space for long periods of time I realized we needed something to do. Actually a lot of somethings once we truly unplugged. It’s not like we all just laid on the floor all day and watched Bravo before (that was just me, sillies!). I kid. But we had gotten pretty cozy in the A/C just lounging the lazy days of summer away.

You may be wondering why I didn't opt for just good old outdoor play. A park perhaps, bike rides, kick the can? Look, summer’s not for the fainthearted here in Big Texas. It’s hotter than fresh Hades and the pavement feels like the inside of a furnace set to "melt all humankind" with the occasional gust of volcanic lava. Did I mention it’s warm? And I just think it’s a known fact that people don’t do well in the heat. Just look at nature. The only things that really thrive in intense heat are mean, wily beasts like snakes, lizards, and camels. Maybe camels aren't wily but they are known to spit and that's just not polite. So my point is this - You don't see bunnies and kittens just romping to their hearts' content in the heat. You're not going to. They don’t do it. Hot weather makes everyone grumpy so it’s best to find some indoor hobbies and stick to them - and preferably some that don't have an on/off switch.

I really had forgotten what a mongo job it is to play Camp Activities Director all the livelong day. So please do let the record show that I hit a solid on Day One. Really from there out we rocked our new pioneer world. Sure it's only been a few days. And just as it was for the early settlers, it has been unbelievably exhausting. I'm sure it's fair to compare the life of those without electricity, motor transportation, and indoor plumbing to my having to actually get off of the couch and plan educational, fun stuff for my kids to do all day. Exactly the same! But the reality is identical - the best way is pretty much always the hardest way. Just is. Can’t figure out what to do at a fork in the road? Take the narrow, steep, rocky way – it’s the best. Just ask Ma Ingalls.

For us it wasn't the wide open prairie but rather the open doors of the craft armoire that set things in motion.

And yes, that's how it really looks in there. Open the door and run in the hope not to be injured by a falling mason jar, spools of ribbon, or all manner of "Imagine what I could do with this I found in the trash" objects that have just been waiting for this very opportunity. We seized and smeared, sat and sewed, stopped and savored.

We made owls from toilet paper rolls friends. Yes, I made crafts from TP rolls.

This is the kind of awesome generally reserved for those moms who make an organic lunch for their child each day in the shape of a different circus animal. It may have taken me until August but I rose up, people. And there's more! We made our own sidewalk paint,

mini pizzas on sticks.

Emie made treasure maps for Ainsley which led to more maps (inside and out) and finally to games they would play.

We made treats from scratch, played swimming games/contests, painted paper plates, and changed the world for the better I’m quite sure. Changed our world for the better and that’s no lie.

We went from here

to here

and even here!

I've never been more tired or more proud (in the "I still know I'm just me") kind of way. The whole thing truly has been a great lesson for me. To note that you’re doing kind of cruddy in an area is not the time to pack up your bags and throw in the towel. It’s the time to find your bags, organize them, wash the dang towels, and start anew. Something different. Something better. The concept is elementary, simple, but not always easy for me. And I am just happy as a taco in Texas that I learned this before I just decided it was too late and wasted even more time. Hooray for learning and growth and change.

So I’m feeling happy. Feeling thankful for second chances and crafts and air conditioning. And for school that’s about to start again. Can I get an amen? We’re almost there people! The last push of the marathon. I only have to figure out what to craft and create out of Kleenex for a few more days. Soon the task will be in the more than capable hands of the school teachers to whom I entrust my girls. Never have I loved teachers more or understood how stinkin’ hard they work. Be nice to them. Pray for them. They may have been making sock monkeys out of crepe paper with their own kids for the last three months and would cut off their right arm with a butter knife for one night alone. Here’s to them!

I plan to be awesome in new ways next week when the kids are back in school and then slowly return to myself again. No sense upsetting the whole order of things. Those things on Pinterest wouldn't look half as amazing if there weren't people like me and my take-out containers with which to compare.

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  1. Amen and I couldn't agree with you more Melinda on the respect for teachers that I too have! They are amazing and have a very tough job. You know who else is wonderful???? All the mothers in this world. I didn't realize that until after I had my own. It is a tough job but you are doing great!!!I love you more than you know and keep up the great work. Your daughters are incredibly beautiful - just like you and Dirk. Love you guys~