I've recently entered a new stage of life with my youngest child starting school. I imagine every mother goes through this self reflective time when her baby hits the school ground running. Five days a week, for the next 13 years in an institution. No big deal right?? Despite the gravity of the situation; for the most part I (and certainly little miss 5) felt ready for this next stage, that we are now well settled into. Our Tenacious Tilly has taken the adjustment to school life in her stride, embracing the routine, the structured learning and the school yard banter.
For me, I had been gearing up to utilise the additional weekdays for creative endeavours, work and other outlets. Editing photos during daylight is always more pleasant than squinting at a screen late at night. I do however feel a little twinge of loss every now and then. Gone are the days of "today we have no plans" for me and my girl. I like the concept of 'slow parenting' but the reality is now, every morning I end up hurrying my kids to get them off to school on time and asking myself if I could have done it better in the window of time I had to connect with them.
I remember this feeling when my son (now 7) started school too, but the silver lining was that I had more one on one time with my (then) preschool daughter. In the sincere search for continuing real connection with my growing children, I have managed to find an answer for now. It's certainly not rocket science but it requires a deliberate effort... it's the simple art of taking the available opportunities for one on one time with each child and being present. My husband challenges me that if I try to capture the moment all the time with a lens, I'm not really experiencing it. Well I have to make sure that I find the balance here, and after asking my kids about their experience with me, I'm satisfied that I have the ability to be 'present' and only occasionally bring my camera along.
Every Tuesday from 5 - 7.30pm, my husband takes our 7 year old to Iconz (a boys adventure club) so it leaves Tilly and I with a window of time together. Instead of doing the clean up and dishes after a rushed family meal and onto the weeknight bed routine, on this night, we have a date together. We are so blessed to live within walking distance to the beach and we have been relishing our Tuesdays, with dusk wanderings in our extended back yard. Noticing the beauty of the clouds, the textures of the tussock, the seasonal flora, and adventuring along the changing tidal beach scape. Together, Tilly and I embrace the joy of being present. Long sunlit days don't last year round though... We have just come to the end of daylight savings so our choice of activities will be changing, but I will definitely be holding onto my deliberate use of this time with my Tilly.
I have a final thought to share in closing this ramble. Last night we ate dinner slightly late and everyone was thankful when the food reached the table. My husband remarked that (for the kids' benefit) "he always feels better when he has a bit of food in him". Tilly came back with an instant reply... "I always feel better with a bit of Joy in me". Heart melt! Let's keep feeding our kids with joy and see how much we can learn from them when we take the time to be present. x Alice.