Thursday, I spent the afternoon doing something I’ve never done at my own home – I weeded. It had been quite a long time since I’d done that. But there we were, Cillian and I, armed with a garden hat, kneeling mat and a weeding tool, in the cool but sunny three-o-clock, while Jamie and Lucy napped inside the house.
This past week, I’ve been keeping Cillian out of his and Jamie’s shared room (and queen bed) for quiet time with me, so as to enable Jamie to have a decent nap without big brother’s interference, as, much to my chagrin, Cillian seems to have outgrown them. Whenever I give them shared quiet time, Cillian ends up sabotaging everything, normally resulting in Jamie crying about something. So we have quiet time together, he and I, and it’s quite nice. He gets to learn something new, whether it be how to fold laundry or how to follow a workout DVD or how to weed, and I get to give valuable, one-on-one attention to my big guy.
At first, I felt unsure about surrendering my valuable afternoon do-whatever-I-want time, but I came to realize that if I started rising before the kids wake up each morning, “me” time can still happen, in addition to creating a peaceful situation for all three kids in the afternoon. And also, without resentful feelings that I didn’t get to do something I wanted to that day.
So, we knelt on the brick walkway, pulling at the stubborn tufts of Unwantable Green, as I taught Cillian how to properly pull a weed from the root and not merely the leaves. He successfully yanked two or three and then quickly became interested in wielding the weed tool to dig along the edges of the newly improved bricks. After all, he is a four-year-old boy. What else is he going to want to do when there’s something to dig with lying around?
I, on the other hand, soldiered on, ignoring the aching in my fingers from pulling the belligerent weeds. It was so satisfying. Quiet was all around us, Cillian busy with his digger, me wrestling the grass and dandelions, our tiger cat, Aslan, lazily prowling the front porch, as if lording over his slaves doing his bidding.
There was something intensely gratifying about this simple task. And as I sweated through it, feeling the burn of Vitamin D overdose on my back, I came to the conclusion that this is the kind of work I should be doing. I was made to do this kind of work, this wonderful physical labor. Gardening is one of the best kinds of rewarding physical labor, I think – to beautify something living, to cultivate life out of earth, to bring forth fruit from the ground. Up until now, I have been content to let Caleb be the one who does all of the tending to our family garden. But now I’m starting to care more too. And it’s easier to care when I spend more time outside, surrounded by it all.
In general, I like to be clean, tidy, indoors, and quiet most of the time. So God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me two boys. And they love nothing more than to be the opposite of all of those things, which is exceptionally healthy for me, because there is something so intrinsic about being in nature. It’s because there, we become closer to God. We learn to quiet ourselves and our ever busy, buzzing thoughts. We learn to serve, to contribute to something with purpose. We learn to listen and to pray.
And boys… Boys need to be outside like nothing else. In the wild. Yelling, jumping, swinging off of things, moving, doing. The outdoors is their kingdom, their sanctuary. So, I am trying to take the hint and be outside more with them. (Because if I let them spend too much time outside by themselves, one of them ends up wailing or they both skip town in the brief two minutes that I’m not checking, and head up the long, rocky driveway to Grandma’s house, usually with their red wagon in tow.)
So yesterday, Jamie got his nap and Cillian got some Mama time outside, and when it was time for everyone to be loud again, we were all quite happy, every one of us, because everyone had gotten exactly what they needed.
I think I’ll be doing this again and again.
Have an absolutely lovely day, and do spend some of it outside, admiring this gorgeous July we’ve been having. You won’t wish you hadn’t.