Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From Mitten Strings: Rhythm

One thing that I did when Flower was small was that I tried to set a rhythm to our days. Now, she was a baby, so rhythm was a bit relative. I certainly couldn't count on something being done necessarily at an exact certain time - but we had things that we did at certain times of the day. Things like nursing, playing, singing songs to her before she went to bed, etc.

As she got older, and we added Jelly Bean, and then Super, we would shoot for times on things - Breakfast eaten by 8 am, outside around 10 am, bath time by 6 pm, and in bed/asleep by 7 pm. Some of my friends would say "How can you have your children in bed so early?" Well, there were a few reasons for their early bedtime, most importantly, they were tired. By 7 pm, my children were ready for bed. We did have make our rhythm flow so that this would happen - so dinner happened around 5, and bath was by 6, and stories were started by 6:30. The sun was setting, the stars were coming out and the day was slowly disappearing into night, so they were slowing down their internal rhythm too. They would usually sleep for 11-13 hours. The other main reason that we put our children to bed at 7 pm was so that we had some adult/alone time. I love my children. I enjoy being around them. But I am a better mom and wife if I am able to have some time to talk, to read, to do something without my children before I go to bed at night.

But it isn't just sleep that is part of our rhythm, although it is an important part - there is the routine of three meals eaten at our table, dishes done after dinner, grocery shopping on Saturdays, naps taken after church, stories at bedtime.

Now, if you are a regular reader, you might also know that we got off our rhythm over the summer. It was awful. We got off our rhythm because our life changed for the summer. We were busy with swim team and baseball. We were out later, and we were out more often. But I didn't just modify our rhythm to fit our new routine. I just let go of it all. Did I mention it was awful??

But the worst part of it was when the summer was over, I didn't gratefully embrace our old rhythm. I had let our world of controlled chaos remain instead. I didn't even look at our old rhythm and see if perhaps it needed some tweaking, now that the children were getting a bit older. I just let go.

The author says "But it is a challenge for us to incorporate rhythm into our daily lives. To do so, we must commit ourselves to order and routine; to a slower, more deliberate pace; to intention rather than to happenstance. In other words, we must develop a sense of ritual. Only a few generations ago, human activity was, by necessity, informed by the rhythms of the natural world: we slept when it was dark, rose with the sun, planted and harvested according to the seasons, experienced profound connections between the cosmos and human consciousness. Modern life has severed these connections.

Often enough, I do find myself speeding up, trying to pack too much into too little time. But children find contentment and strength not in the day's array of activities, but in consistency, and in the familiar, homely routines that give each day its shape."

This passage speaks so much to me because it is the way that I want our lives to be - in tune with the natural rhythms, and following simple, familiar routines. I've been slowly trying to find my way back to a rhythm. Thankfully, we've had one before, and I know we can do it again. Thankfully, I have the rhythm of the days and seasons as a guide.

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