Is This What Grace Looks Like?

1958 1958_ () 1958 1958 Weekly column
Some years I feel emotional at the end of summer. I think about the time with my children, the summer memories we have made, how quiet the house will be once the door slams shut and they are on their way, headed off to school. Some years I get a lump in my throat every time I think about kissing them goodbye as they amble out the door.

This year will not be one of those years.

What a long, hot summer it has been. We set sail into the steamy summer days with a tiny newborn and a danger-loving toddler and while I had high hopes, I had low expectations. I spent so much of the summer just trying to make it through and while I have myself to blame for this (me and my pesky grasp on reality) it still made things hard. I knew we would operate below our capabilities, but I hated it just the same.

And now, as the page turns on the calendar and school is upon us, I find the burst of energy I always do when Fall knocks on the door. It certainly helps that the baby is older and sleeping well, that here and there the temperatures aren’t so oppressive. All these things come together and I am ready for the change, for the beauty and peace that structure brings.

Mostly, I’m ready to stop relying so much on the boys being entertained, and am ready for them to entertain themselves.

On that note, we have turned off our television, limited our Internet, packed up the video games and kissed them goodbye. It sounds crazy, scary even. But it’s incredibly peaceful and my only regret is that I did not have the guts to try this at the beginning of the summer.

But to everything there is a season. That’s what I’m telling myself to ward off the guilt. Isabel was tiny, Henry was a delightful little imp and we set sail into the summer with the lowest of expectations. We might rely more on the TV than I’d like, I told myself, but this will be for your own sanity.

And I guess that’s true. The first part is totally true – we did rely on the television, and way more than I’d like. So many times I would turn on the box, set the boys in front of the electric glow so I could get just a moments’ peace. I knew that keeping them contained in the front room, lulled into a soothing cartoon-induced trance, well that would buy me the 45 minutes I needed to get something done.

But there was never the peace that I so desperately wanted. There wasn’t even the quiet. Sure they weren’t nipping at my heels. But they were nipping at each other. Too much television has that effect on my brood.

I have these ideals when it comes to mothering and the image of who I want to be is not always in line with who I am. These things can all change on a daily basis, of course, but summertime tends to have me feeling more out-of-sync than in.

So here we are, TV off. We are entertaining ourselves – which with boys can be quite scary and often messy. Usually this ends with at least one person wearing at least one Band-Aid. Thankfully, stitches are only occasional.

You can see why I find the soft-glow of the television a too-appealing alternative.

The chaos of imagination and adventure takes energy. It makes things wild and loud – but in a very good way. When my boys live the way I know they should – with the electronics off and the real-life on – this brings me closer to the mom I want to be, the mom I know I should be.

Seasons change and we are headed back into higher ideals. It takes more work to live this way, but the noise and yelling and the wild state of being – it’s all the good kind of madness. For some crazy reason, I welcome it with open arms. 1958″>



  1. Catholic Mommy to from home says:

    I have a hard time with the noise of the TV too. I also notice more peace and joy when we are actively engaged in being actively engaged. We don't have cable and we watch very little TV. I agree that it is a little harder sometimes because it does take more participation on my part to keep them moving foward..but I think it is worth it. Great job and thanks for sharing.
    p.s thanks for sharing your post yesterday. I loved the sites you link us to!!

  2. I have been relying too much on TV and computer and Wii lately as well. This week, inadvertently, through a need for some major "consequences" of bad behavior, we have had an electronic free week. And I'm thinking this is going to stay put for awhile, with maybe a special privilege here and there. Everyone is playing nicely. They have all managed to entertain themselves with no problem. And my house is that much more peaceful.

  3. Well done, Rachel. So honest, and so true! Your family is so lucky to have you!

  4. structure does bring peace, even if it requires work.

  5. Wonderful! Lately, I've been looking around our house, with LEGOS and K'Nex strewn into every corner. Sometimes I get frustrated at the mess. Then, I recall that the "mess" is really boyhood in action.

    Peace to you,

  6. Modest Mama says:

    Way to go! You can do it! I only have three boys and one girl and one on the way, but we have no TV, no video games, and only train toys with batteries. The kids find things to do when you offer less. My house is noisy, but it a good kind of noise.