Today was a simply beautiful day. The epitome of a perfect pre-fall day. Cool air in the morning, warmer by the afternoon, deep blue sky...all beckoned me to get out of the house with George and Evie.
So we did. At about eleven o'clock I decided that today would be the perfect day to ride/walk to a beautiful picnic spot in our neighborhood and eat our lunch there. No rushing them along, no planning for the next thing, just enjoying however long it would take us to make it to our destination.
I love when I am able to make the conscious decision to take it slow. To watch but really see them, to hear their voices but really listen to them.
For the past two weeks, I have been preoccupied with plans of celebrate the feast of St. Therese at Thomas and Annie's school. I am the spiritual life director this year, so I get to plan a treat for all the children, as well as something special for the teachers and staff. My plan at first was to order a chocolate eclair for everyone since it is known that chocolate eclairs were a favorite treat of St. Therese. Perfect. However, after calling around town, the only bakery I found that makes them was a small locally owned shop. To order 360 eclairs would cost five hundred and some dollars.
Five hundred dollars.
On to plan B.
I was ready to give up and come up with something different, when Janel, my crafty, creative, and amazing cook friend said to me that she looked up a recipe on line and that eclairs didn't seem too terribly difficult to make. After reading about it and figuring just about how many batches I would need to make, I thought I can do this. Why not? It will just take me six days if I make four batches a day. It was in the span of one day that I went from wanting them made for me and delivered to me, to making them all myself.
I had many offers from dear friends who said they would make a few batches or so, but the controlling, non-delegating person that I am thought it would be much easier if I just cranked them out.
I will tell you that the dough is extremely easy and fast to make. They bake quickly and then they are done. It takes approximately five seconds to fill them with pudding and whip some frosting on top. However when you are making 375....well it takes a bit longer!
I also made sleeves with the image of St. Therese on them for the teachers coffee cups, a tag to stick into each eclair, and Hershey kiss roses.....my point to all of this is that while I completely enjoyed all this crafting, I was very preoccupied and my children got the brunt of it. Most days they were left to find something to play on their own, or to watching PBS much longer than usual. I guess I will never figure out how to balance time spent with children, projects that I want to do, making meals, daily household tasks, time for myself, and time for TJ. While we can be very good and efficient in one area, the other ones fall by the wayside. Ironically, during this time I read a great post about this very thing. Fitting it all in. Dividing my time between all the different hats that I am called to wear.
I don't play with my children very well. When one comes up to me and asks me to play trains or babies or house with them, I wince and sometimes I sit there and fight through my urge to get up and get something done, while other times I tell them I'll be right there....and of course there never comes. But there are things that I do believe I do well with them. For starters, I am simply home with them. They see me when they wake up, leave for school, walk out the doors of school, have snack ready, do homework with them, make dinner for them, and tuck them in bed at the end of the day. Even on the days that I blow it and yell and lose my temper and say things I shouldn't have, I'm still there. I can't be too hard on myself on those bad days, because regardless, I am present with them all day, every day. They know that and there is great comfort in that for them.
I do like to play games with them. UNO, puzzles, Guess Who, Card games are all fun for me to play with them. I love to have them in the kitchen with me. I don't mind the mess that gets made and find pleasure in teaching them how to cook and bake. I like to watch them and think about how they are growing and learning and I love to have conversations with them. When I do the ahuh..ahuh...just a minute, when I'm done...it drives me crazy. I know they can tell that I'm not really listening to them.
And when I am focused on something else, be it hot gluing 375 toothpicks onto tags, or baking batch after batch of eclairs, I know that I give very little attention to my children. I like to get projects done which just intensifies my attention on the project rather than on them. I'm praying for the grace to balance it all. To learn when to say no to other things that will compete for my attention with my family.
Taking time today to walk with George and Evie, eat our lunch on the grass, watch for airplanes that flew overhead, listen to them talk to each other, all just reminded me how much I love getting to be a mom and have children. On the days that I am preoccupied with something else and fall into bed that evening feeling bad that they pretty much entertained themselves all day, I pray for the grace to recognize all that I do give them. Love, time, attention. Even if its only for a brief moment during a busy day. I pray that they will always know how much I love them.