Overnight, five inches of snow fell. We awoke this morning to find the world clothed in white silence. Soon, we heard that the local schools were closed. We knew we were having a ‘snow day.’
We have had a wonderful day. A morning of playing in the snow, then coming inside to get back into our jammies and drink hot chocolate, gave way to an afternoon of skimming down a hillside at top speed. Everything we were supposed to do became secondary. All those jobs that needed to be ticked off the list got put off til tomorrow. Some might say that I got to spend ‘quality time’ with my children.
I’m dubious about the concept of ‘quality time,’ as though we must schedule in particular times when we can enjoy the company of our children. One of my daily practices is to find the quality in every moment with my children. It’s not always straightforward. Yes, it’s easy to bask in the warm glow of time well spent when we’re bustling through the door and peeling off layers of snowy garments, already talking about how many marshmallows we want on our hot chocolates. When we’re snuggled up on the sofa watching a film, or sitting on the floor playing a game, it’s pretty simple to see the quality in this moment. We’re having fun, we’re connecting, we’re loving one another’s company.
This practice becomes more challenging when we try to find quality in the difficult moments. When I’m picking up wet coats, hats and mittens from puddles on the floor, draping them over the fire and radiators yet again while the children argue, it’s harder to see the quality. When the littlest one is in meltdown because he’s tired and needs a nap, and I didn’t pick up on the signs early enough… yes, it’s not so easy to see any quality here. When we all sit down to a dinner that took me ages to prepare and the first thing they say is, “I don’t like mushrooms.” Or, “I’m not hungry”… well frankly I usually don’t see much quality at times like this!
But I know in my heart that, like the old pasta sauce commercial promised, “It’s in there.” Each moment of every day is an opportunity to learn more about myself and to build connection with my children. I can telescope my awareness outwards and watch myself in each situation. I can fine-tune my focus inward and see aspects of myself that hitherto eluded me.
The mundane chores of family life are an opportunity to for quiet reflection amongst the din of my life: a tedious task metamorphoses into a meditation. The arguments between children, which I have accepted as a normal part of family life, are just one of the many peaks and troughs in our daily rhythm. Experience tells me that they are fertile ground for connection: sorrys and hugs afterwards precede truly imaginative, collaborative play among my children. My toddler’s meltdowns are a chance to for me to be with him during his hardest struggles. In those moments I can show him that when the going gets tough, mama will stay by his side. And then I will help him off to sleep and lose myself in the blonde wispiness of his hair and the smooth porcelain of his cheeks. The frustration and anger I feel when my efforts to provide nutritious family food are rebuffed– well, I’m still working on this one.
Seeing the quality in every moment, rather than consigning quality to a few hours on the weekend, or on a snow day, brings a sense of wholeness to life. We can experience the process as well as the results of our parenting journey. We can embrace each moment for the treasures that it reveals, because every moment with our children is a gift.
This is the first in a series on Yoga in daily life, one of my great passions.
By Dick Mudde (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons