Lately, I found myself fretting about things that I wanted/planned/meant to do, and just didn't get around to; even, and in particular, special projects I have been meaning to do with the girls, such as a kite-making session, watercolors, and what not. I know I've often written about how we love the slow, simple life, but even it can bog you down: some plants need pruning, you have a marvelous new idea of going on a tour of the carob trees and picking the first ripe fruit, etc.
Then I had an epiphany... actually it should have been pretty obvious, but there you go: better have an ordinary day in which nothing "special" is accomplished, and be calm and relaxed, and be able to answer my children's question and pull them alongside me into whatever simple activity I'm doing (washing the dishes, folding the laundry, collecting eggs), than snap at them irritably to leave me in peace and allow me to get the chores done as quickly as possible, so that we can move on to something better and greater.
In this world, there are thousands of projects worth undertaking; millions of books worth reading; but only a few people who love you and depend on you. So, much more material than what you do together is how you do it. A relaxed chat while you are washing the dishes is more nourishing for the soul than a mad dash for the swimming pool while you are constantly checking your watch and thinking that dinner will be late and bedtime will be late, and you all need to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. Not that I don't love the swimming pool (or the beach, the park, the library, etc) but just trying to say that time spent together can be great even if you don't do anything particularly "special", "creative" or "artsy". All you need is a smile, a hug, and a few words that come from the heart. And a drink of homemade lemonade with clinking ice cubes shared on the front porch won't go amiss, either.
I stay home with my children in order not to be rushed and stressed; I do my best to relieve my family from unnecessary outside obligations, not just to be bogged down by self-imposed ones; what I want is an orderly home, yes - but also a peaceful, cheerful, relaxed atmosphere.
And once you lower your expectations, you will see things do get done. Truly, they do, unless you stay in bed all day. By and by, opportunities present themselves not only to get through the basics, but also to do some of the things that would make you feel accomplished, such as gardening, trying new recipes, or working on a hobby or project. It might not happen as fast and as smoothly as we like, but most likely it will, and the wait will be well worth it.
So, I'm going to throw on my apron and cook dinner. It won't be anything gourmet, but it will be enjoyed, and little cooks will be encouraged to participate along the way. Come along, too - there's plenty of room for everyone.