Saturday, November 20, 2010

"That Emotion"

There's a particular unlabeled emotion I feel sometimes in motherhood.  It's this mix of excitement-fear-awe-bewilderment-joy and more, all mixed into one.  I never quite know when it's going to come up, but I always know it when I feel it.  Like this tornado of emotion just swept over me, and I'm left speechless. 
They aren't always the Big Moments.  Or at least, not the big ones I'd expect.  But they are moments when I feel like I'm seeing something raw and miraculous and important about my children. 

At the beginning of Jack's kung fu class, they have them sit quietly with legs crossed for five minutes.  Eyes closed, hands on their knees, back straight.  There are about 15-20 kids in the room, and within the first minute, nearly all of them had eyes opened.  Scooting across the floor.  Fidgeting.  Talking. 

I don't judge, trust me.  I'd be doing that too, and I'm multiple times older than they are.  And I certainly didn't expect it from Jack.

I kept watching Jack, waiting for the fidgets to start.  They never came.  Not once.  He sat, for a full five minutes ("dog minutes" in child perspective) with back perfectly straight.  Legs folded. Eyes closed.  Didn't move a bit. 

The longer I watched, the more That Emotion built up in me.  How is it possible that he's doing that?  What created that in him?  He didn't get it from me! I spent nearly every T-ball game as a child, picking dandelions in the outfield and staring through the spaces in my mitt.

It wasn't just that he was sitting still; it was the sense I got from him.  That he was in his own little place...that one I see in him, and know it's bigger than anything I could have asked out of him.  I don't really know how to put it into words.

The kid can definitely get hyper and non-zen at times.  In fact, he's been driving me crazy with his activity the last few days.  The running, the shouting.  But something in him is capable of scaling back in ways that I don't completely comprehend.  For whatever reason, there was something real and raw in Jack in that moment for me.

Watching Jack form is like watching Bob Ross painting on PBS.  When I watch Bob Ross, I'm so amazed by every new step he puts into his painting.  It always looks like a finished product, and fills me with awe.  Then he'll go and add some evergreen trees, and I'm astonished that it became so much better.  The final product was always beyond anything I could have dreamt up myself.

That is how I feel about this sweet, kind, soulful little boy who was created in my womb - but nothing I could have dreamt of creating.  This child who fell asleep while counting backwards in French, under his breath.  I haven't the faintest idea why counting forwards wasn't enough for him.  Who fell in love with Russian when he was barely four. Who makes sketches filled with math equations, even though his parents don't believe in teaching much math right now.  Who fills notebooks with writings and brings me pictures of Star Wars battles as though they were the most incredible gift for me.  And quite honestly, it feels like they are. 

It feels like he's plotted this course on who he's supposed to become, and anything I'd do to step in and take over would just mess it all up.  He's a boy on a mission in life, I think.  I keep thinking I'm not sure how to parent a child with such an intense curiosity and need to explore life...but most times, it seems like he might have that under control on his own.

What? No laundry-folding elves?

I find it interesting how, when I emotionally quit from a task, I can wander back to the task on a new term.  Case in point: I quit as a homemaker this week.  No more cooking from scratch.  Or more accurately: No more NOT cooking from scratch, but *planning* to cook from scratch...which means, ultimately, that there's no food around.

Suddenly, I'm finding the freedom to see the joy in moderation.  Instead of heating up leftover fried rice for dinner (as planned), I found myself putting together a sweet potato and bean chili to go over brown rice tonight.  The sweet potatoes were pre-cut, the black beans were organic canned, and the brown rice is pre-cooked/frozen from Trader Joe's.  So I still won't win any Chef of the Year awards.  But I was finding joy in putting together food again.

The twinkle of cooking joy hasn't been completely obliterated.  It was just out of balance.

How many times will I have to re-learn that joy only comes from balance?  Cooking everything from scratch wasn't "me" and neither was getting all my food from drive-thrus or after 10pm.  I'm somewhere in between...I just have to figure out the right proportions.

I am also actively making peace with the fact that elves will not fold my laundry.  It's not going to  happen.  Steve does help, but he doesn't need another task on his plate either.  The good man does plenty already.  I need to just stop waiting until Laundry Folding sounds super exciting, and just DO IT. 

Note to self: It will never, ever, ever sound exciting.  But yet, it must be done.

And's shocking how little time it really takes.  We have a minimalist wardrobe anyway.  The kids have about a week of clothes for each season.  I do laundry every day.  There's no reason not to spend 5 minutes just putting them away, instead of all of us dressing out of the laundry basket each morning.

Also learned: Sometimes the best thing to do is NOT to do something. We were supposed to go camping for 2 nights this weekend, and *very* last minute we decided not to go.  I looked around my family and realized the last thing we needed was more fun.  :)  Just kidding.  Okay, maybe not entirely.  Activity and fun and memories and such haven't been in short supply...peaceful calm in my PJs all day at home?  That's more like it.  There will be plenty of weekends to camp, but this wasn't the right one.