“Life is to be experienced, not fought against, run from, or engaged halfheartedly. Though we may wish to make changes in the future, to be conscious is to be with an experience as it’s unfolding, rather than thinking about how we would like to change it. Taking charge of our life so that we alter the quality of our experiences in the future comes after an experience.” - Shelafi Tsabary, The Conscious Parent.
A candle lit at dinner time. A poem read most mornings. The music we play at breakfast. A bath time song. The cup of tea I cherish at every nap time. These are the moments of reverence and gratitude that our days rest upon.
In the first months of parenthood - post newborn fug, they flew by - days could sometimes feel a bit of a slog. So lost in the monotony of wake up-breakfast-nap-lunch-nap-dinner-bedtime it felt like I was sometimes wishing the days away, the hours between 3pm and 5:15pm would literally crawl by, snail-like, until I heard my husband's key turn in the door.
I admit, my daughter getting older, becoming more like company than little limpet may have had something to do with it but things got a lot easier when I started seeing my day as little moments that shape our life, as opposed to one huge obstacle to climb. And then Eloise's A Beautiful Childhood course expanded this further. The Waldorf ideas of rhythm and consistency were things I was so deeply craving and needing, I just didn’t know it. Every morning we come down, open the curtains, put on our morning music and cook porridge. And then, because we do it every morning, it is special. The words I whisper as Eilish goes to sleep every night, because I do it every night, are special. Every Sunday is pancake day in our house, and, because we do it every week, it is special.
It feels like magic, these little things we do. Cosying up into Autumn with a Shirley Hughes poem feels like a little piece of rust coloured magic, a moment that stands still and then follows us through some of our busiest days. The candle we always light at dinner time is like a spell cast to slow time and make us take a breath. The well-worn path down to feed the ducks, oats in hand, feels like an old friend. That cosy lamp light as we read a story before bed seems to paint bed times with a kind of sacred joy. We are a secular family, but these are our little nod to gratitude, of the thanks we give to the life we have. These are the things I hope Eilish carries with her through her life: the ability to find magic in the everyday, a thankfulness for the changing of leaves, and the warmth that can be found in meals gathered around a small table.
And again, from Tsabary “It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life?”. For me, these little moments we create are self-care, truly. Parents need and deserve to hold space in their day for calm and peace, for moments of intention and presence. These days of childhood are for us too. No, you cannot pour from an empty cup, but sometimes we do not have the resources to create time to fill it on our own. Sometimes days are hard. This mindset shift, seeing a simple candle being lit as a second to reflect, has given me a little of that space. It pulls me into the present, away from distraction, and I always end the day feeling so much better. The times when we are reading books or playing with dough, with a cup of tea to one side and phone far, far away, are an exercise in gratitude. Starting nap time with five minutes to read a book or journal alone makes me feel renewed and thankful. Changing our seasonal ring, incorporating new seasonal books, collecting nature treasures on our walks, makes me stop and appreciate the changing seasons. So much of life can pass us by, and gifting myself these little tricks makes me feel a little more on top of it all, makes me feel like I am making the most of motherhood and this life too.