… I thought, “How sad! How sad that I am wishing this day away, wishing this time with my children away.” How sad…
It was a gray, rainy day. My 5-year-old had been on Spring vacation all week, and I had been out of practice with having both of my boys home at the same time. I was drained, too, from having my in-laws in town. And my husband had decided to take time off of work. A staycation. It was fun and busy, but the introvert that I am was missing some solo recharge time. And I was tired of planning kiddie entertainment activities. I decided we weren’t going anywhere today. Not even to see Max the bunny of Max & Ruby at the local toy store.
As soon as I turned the morning cartoons off, I started to get irritated. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be angry, that I would be content resigning myself to a long, indoor day, but I couldn’t help feeling frustrated. I got tired of hearing my verbal stream of “Don’t hit him! Share! Leave him alone! Don’t hurt the dog! Be kind to each other! blah blah blah blah blah.” I was annoying myself, I could only imagine how my kids were feeling. I was supremely bothered, and kept exhaling these enormous sighs of discontent. I started to count the hours until bedtime. Hoping that time would zoom by.
Then I thought, “How sad! How sad that I am wishing this day away, wishing this time with my children away.” How sad.
What could I do to change my mindset?
I had recently shared the ‘secret of life’ with my oldest son. Love. That simple. Giving and receiving love. It’s what we are meant to do. Randomly washing a pan at the kitchen sink, watching my 2-year-old whack his ‘brudder’ for the umpteenth million time, I sighed again for the umpteenth million time. It all seemed so meaningless. The kids romping around the house and being ornery, hurting one another both physically and feelings-wise, because they were bored to tears. Bored with their toys. Me bored of playing their toys with them, bored of (dare I say?) watching them by myself while hubby slept from night-shift work. Us all wishing that the day would just end already.
Is this what I wanted time with my family to be? No. How could I infuse love into every mundane day? How could I bring meaning into all of our lives (especially on the weekends when hubby was working, and it was just me and the critters)?
Then a phrase popped into my mind. The Love Project. A family love project that would involve spreading love to others and the planet. I envisioned cleaning up a corner of the playground. Visiting a nursing home. Playing with other children, needy for love. Family performance art, like having a brightly decorated table somewhere, asking passers-by to share a story with us about someone they love.
I found a website for volunteer opportunities in our county, and (embarassingly) was shocked by the number of amazing organizations that needed help. I frantically scribbled a list in my purple notepad. There were many more than I had anticipated, and I actually had to be selective about what might be the best fit for me, plus a 5- and 2-year-old. I decided to start by calling the nature center to see if they still needed help collecting data from their bluebird boxes. Another great choice seemed to be hooking up with a local non-profit committed to helping immigrant families integrate into the community, along with contacting a nearby nursing home to see if the boys and I could be “friendly visitors.” Then I figured I would supplement more formal experiences with self-initiated activities, like clean-ups.
My heart soared for the rest of the day. I might have actually found the solution: our family’s Love Project.
Despite my wonderful intention (and notepad full of ideas), I hoped I would follow through with the Love Project. I was excited enough about it to share it with the kids, who in turn seemed excited, too. And waiting in line for my soy latte at Starbucks a few days later, I noticed a huge sign that April was Volunteer Month. Hmm. I wonder if I was on to something, if I had tapped into something larger than my gray and rainy day on that gray and rainy day…