The morning had a quiet start. Dawn. Coffee. Allergy sniffles. Crossword puzzle. Then I heard her sneaking down the stairs, and soon my fresh-from-sweet-sleep 8 yr. old cuddled up next to me, and began helping me with the NY Times puzzle (*”easy”…as in, a whole book of “easy puzzles”). And then the remaining two joined us, cuddling up under the quilt, with our Yorkshire Terrier showering the lot of us with her infinite licks.
Mornings like this remind me of our former homeschooling days, and cause all sorts of missing to swell in my heart. I remember the first nine years of being a mother, and the care, attention, focus, and discipline that I gave to my children and to their education. We lingered in parks with our books, nature journals, good friends. We had midday dance parties for physical education, took walks in the rain, made up songs to go along with our memory work, baked treats for neighbors over our lunch hour, and seemed to have unfettered time for the creative expression pulsing through our souls. We took days off when family members were in need. We attended daytime lectures, community events, and co-ops because we knew these were important to our manifesto: every interaction: a lesson, every journey: an opportunity for growth, every day: a gift and new beginning.
Those early years live in my memory, haloed by the glory of a sunrise and the filter of time and space. And yet I clearly remember the fog that, at times, seemed to cloak every moment of the day. The weight of feeling responsible for everything. Fear that my failure would effect the future of my children for the remainder of their days. The seasons of doubt where my thoughts were full of gloom: I wasn’t doing enough, being enough, becoming enough, whatever enough. And so I gave myself to the foolish practice of always saying “yes”, becoming over-involved, and forgetting about my soul, so I could do, be, become enough. And because there was so little margin for tending to inner life, I lost sight of tending to inner conversation in ordering the days.
We centered many of our lessons in schooling, and in our daily conversations now, around the question: “Is it true?”. The kids love to follow this investigating. Did George Washington really have wooden teeth? Did we really make Indians move off their land? Weren’t they here first? Are unicorns real? Do you really love me? Can an egg really show up before a hen is there to lay it? And so I am learning, with many hard lessons under my belt, to respond to my thoughts with that same kind of curiosity. Was it true that I was not doing enough, being enough, becoming enough, whatever enough? No. No No No.
I have found curiosity to be my “carpenter’s hammer”: paying attention and questioning the truth of my thoughts, and choosing to actively participate in the “call and response” of inner conversation has quieted my fears and doubts. And the parched ground where those former emotions cultivated thorn and thistle, there now appears tilled soil. And sprouts, sprigs, blossoms. There is a landscape transformed. There is the sunrise, enveloping the earth in a glorious halo, full of anticipation and with the certainty of truth that growth is sure to follow.