I get into this mode sometimes...the planning, organizing, coordinating Mamma mode...which basically involves me making lists (okay, so that's not so out-of-the-norm) both on paper and in my head of things like:
this morning WE will all do our chores together and then WE will all sit down to lunch together and then WE will read books together and discuss them together and then WE will go on a walk and Enjoy Nature together, work on our math together, etc. etc. blah blah blah.
And while I truly believe that planned family activities are an important part of a nurturing home life, I sometimes have to shake myself and repeat this little mantra: Hey. Amber. You don't have to plan every moment of everyday. You and your husband and children aren't any less of a family if you don't do everything together. (alright, so it's not the most memorable mantra I've ever used...doesn't exactly roll off the tongue...but it suits the purpose.)
Typically, though, it's not any great awareness of my own, or anything I do that snaps me out of it. It usually happens when I look outside myself and see, not a co-dependent lot of non-entities waiting for Mom (MOM!) to shape and define them and lead them on, but individuals. People. Who know what to do and who they are because they know they are loved. Are they also a family? Yes. My family as I am theirs. But sometimes, in those moments when I look beyond my lists and plans, I see that we as a family, are only individuals bound to each other by love. And it is the individuality of each of us that defines who we are together.
I had one of those moments this week. It was past noon, I felt like 'WE' hadn't gotten anything done..my morning had been lost in emails and phone calls and grown-up things. And then I stepped outside of myself and my own stresses and looked at my children and realized that their mornings had been just fine. Better than fine. Full and wondrous.
Even without me.
I found Laurelei in her room, which she had tidied and organized, quietly and contentedly sitting on her bed and reading "Just So Stories." She'd even made up her own: How the Tree Frog got His Red Eyes. Riley was sitting at the table, excited to show me the monster mask he'd made and the cookie tower (my fault for leaving the package out) he was constructing.
"Look Mom, it's the Leaning Tower of Ketchup- no, wait- Pizza."
And the rest of that day, even after Daddy came home, we each spent in quiet individual repose. Doing our own things. And now and then sharing them with one another.
Maybe I should write a new mantra:
Just because our family loves to be together, doesn't mean we always have to be together to love our family.
Good plan, Mamma. Good plan.