You probably saw this coming from a 10K away but…I’m taking this week off our book study! I think slowing down will give interested folks time to catch up and, to be honest, I didn’t get any reading done this week myself. So how great is this book study? No pressure! I figured since it’s a book about setting healthy boundaries it’s almost like homework for me to a) recognize that I’m on overload and b) take steps to scale back. Boom! The book is working.
This afternoon, Isabel managed to (on purpose) lock the two of us in her room. The handle on her door is still flipped around to lock from the outside, from that sweet season when she herself needed to know her boundaries at bedtime. She would hop out of bed, check the door, find it locked and calmly climb back in bed. I’ve never admitted this to you because I’m sure there are those who would FREAK at this concept but I’m telling you now (now that the season is behind us) it is not traumatic at all for the child, especially if you do it when they are small and not going through the “afraid” phase.
The key to this approach of course is switching the handle back around once you are done with this season. We haven’t done that yet. So today, I stepped into her room while talking to someone on the phone and I looked up to see her turn the lock and pull the door shut….just as I had time to process what she had done.
“We are locked in,” I said in disbelief, hanging up the phone.
To which Isabel replied, “I know! Because I love you.” And she proceeded to draw the blinds and close the curtains.
Isa loves me so much she wanted to just spend some quality time together, just the two of us in her locked, dark room and I feel like maybe she shouldn’t see the movie Misery until she’s through this phase.
Thankfully, I had my phone in hand (which in a way is to blame for all this but no matter) so I called my mom who walked over from next door and used our spare key which she thank the LORD still had at her house. Thanks Mom! You are the best!
So instead of a book discussion this week, here’s a little column I wrote for the local newspaper about learning to slow down. Enjoy!
Let’s Be Still
One of the best gifts anyone ever gave me was a few words of wisdom. It was shortly after Paul and I had our first baby (eighteen years ago!), and Paul’s sister told me the secret to sanity with small children.
“Lay the baby down when he’s awake, have a schedule, and he will learn to fall asleep on his own.”
It was such a simple concept, but kept me sane and happy for years. Little did I know, when we welcomed our first son, that we’d welcome three more boys soon after. That we’d have a season of four little boys who went to bed at seven every night, and that this pack of bear cubs would bring so much joy, in part because I knew I could count on bedtime as a pain-free event.
These days my schedule is completely flipped and those four boys are now teenagers who thrive in the wee hours. Times are different here, and it’s equally fun, equally nuts.
Lately, instead of dealing with four little boys, my bedtime tuck-in ritual involves just one little girl. While Paul is upstairs putting Henry to bed, I’m reading to Isabel. And for a long time, we used our same approach from years past — reading, prayers, tuck and a kiss good-night. I’d leave a small crack in the door and off she would drift.
But then a few months ago, Isabel started a “phase” where she was “scared” and wanted me to sit in her room. I fought it tooth and nail. We don’t do that, was my thought, if I give in everything will fall apart.
It was weeks of fighting it and suddenly, one night, I decided to sit on the floor by Isabel’s door. I answered some email on my phone and sat quietly and before I knew it, ten minutes later, she was asleep. She just wanted my presence and I could afford to give it.
As you can imagine this has become a bit of a habit, but I’m okay with it. I can afford to sit and relax. I enjoy the time with Isabel, but honestly I need it for myself.
In a season where I am on the go from dawn til dusk, these few minutes of quiet on my daughter’s floor help me slow down, catch my breath, remember to keep perspective. It’s so easy to get in the habit of full-speed-ahead, easy to think we don’t have the time to slow down. But we do, and we must.
“The world keeps spinning, a little too fast, if things don’t slow down soon we might not last. So just for a moment, let’s be still.”
It’s my new favorite song from the amazing group Head and the Heart, and it has become my mantra. Let’s Be Still.
Ever year, as Christmas approaches, I have a dream that my Advent will be still. I think about how I want to prepare my heart for Christmas, how I want perspective and serenity, and I make the mistake of setting my standards too high and then being disappointed with the results. If I can’t completely slow down for the entire season, then I’ve failed and will have to try again next year.
The truth is: we can all slow down, twenty minutes here and there. Even in those days where we bounce from event to wonderful event, we can still find time to just stop. It might not be until the very end of the day, but when you find the time, take advantage of it. Don’t waste those precious moments to sit in silence and think or pray or read or just be.
Take a breather, calm your bad self down. You might still have a million things to do and a billion places to go, but just for a moment, let’s be still.