I have a little helper sitting next to me. It's the big kids' homework time, so he and I are doing our "work" upstairs on his bed, pressed up against his window, a gray sky our backdrop. He's tracing lines on the LeapPad, working on his writing, practicing how to hold a pen. The pincer grasp has been tough for him to master, so with each "good job" or "you're doing great!" he flashes me a crooked smile. He's four, and though primary school is less than a year away, I can't imagine him walking through giant glass doors, a tie around his neck and a crest on his chest.
After the mid-term break had finished and the morning angst of school days had come back to haunt our kitchen table, Matt and I wondered if there wasn't a better way to do this whole thing. The parenting, schooling, working, living, serving, loving type of thing. It's not like our lives are insanely busy. Our extracurriculars are at a minimum and the only thing that keeps our car moving in opposite directions is Matt's unorthodox work schedule and the school drop-off/pick-up puzzle. So when he said he thought we needed to "practice a month of peace," I laughed at him. What should we drop, then, I asked. We're already about as bare bones as you can make it, and still each morning we run around like headless chickens in search of coffee. How do we institute peace here when this is as calm as life will ever be?
The answer, we think, is not in doing less stuff. We still have to feed children and show up for meetings and do laundry every day. He's still in Dublin one day, Clare the day after, and I still hustle three children to three different schools twice a day. These things have to happen; we are already doing less stuff. But how we approach these necessities, and the broad stroke with which we allow our kids to work within them, needs some tweaking. Not twerking. Tweaking.
And, wouldn't you know, we're 50 days out from the New Year. Advent is fast approaching. And life - as it tends to do in the holiday crush - is about to get much more wild.
So our tweak is this: peace. Our intention is to infuse peace in our daily, little acts of chaos.
Not just for us, but for the children, too. We want them to treat each other with gentleness, responding to conflict in peace, and they will learn this from us as we model it. I'm assuming. Hopefully.
We need peace during homework and at the dinner table and in the back seat of the car on the way to church. We need peace at bedtime and bathtime and quiet time here on Asher's bed. And we need peace in this city and in this country and in the queue at the shop.
And we wait for the Prince of Peace, the way we do every year, except that we usually forget about Him till the last minute. On Christmas day He arrives with guests and gifts and we think, "Oh, there You are. I totally forgot You were here." And for the Christ-follower to forget that Jesus brings peace? That is not the way I want to go about life.
I don't know how this is all going to work, but we're thinking of some ways to institute peace. We are starting to be mindful of the loudness we live with and how to quiet the noise. We are asking for words and Scripture and prayers that speak of peace. We want it to fill the rooms in this house and overflow into the streets, infuse every interaction and conversation we have with those around us. That's our hope anyway. And along the way, I'll share some bits of it with you. You and I can sort some of it out here, define peace and peacefulness and peacemaking... and figure out if it's even possible in a family filled with strong personalities and at least one mildly destructive streak.
This is our peace experiment, for these next 50 days, plunging head-first into the most wonderful and chaotic time of year. And today we begin with Ash and I on his bed. Him and his LeapPad and me right here, writing to you, giving brother and sister some peace while they do their homework.
Oh, and you should know: this isn't a blog project, another 31-days-type challenge. Matt and I want to do this for us and for our kids and for the family and home we want to nurture. Sharing here along the way will help keep me accountable, though there will be other stuff happening on these pages, too. And when it all goes to pot in like three days, I'm sure you'll find me back here lamenting my lack of follow through and my usual lazy mom ways.
Or we can just forget I ever said anything. Deal?
How peaceful is your home, family, relationships? What white noise is clouding your blue sky?