In our downtime over the holiday we watched home movies from the girls’ babyhood.
It made me a bit sad.
I think it has something to do with the fact looking back at our family life feels really different than living in it. I sat there and marveled at how hilarious my girls were—and adorable. Yet, I remember being tired (a lot) and having that “just make it through the day” thing when they were really small….like 17 months apart small. There were days I wondered, “What have we done?” having them so close together.
Yet, as I sat there cracking up over toddler antics with rest of my family, I just felt nostalgia. It was actually more like a deep down ache that churned most of the day even after our movie presentation was done. It made me stop and really ponder what the issue was. Then it hit me:
What am I missing out on right now that I won’t be able to recognize until I’m watching movies of their preteen years?
What parts of their lives am I wizzing by and not recognizing for their importance? What daily/weekly/yearly tasks seem like inconveniences, but in time will hold such valuable memories that I’ll regret not being 100% present and aware when they were happening?
I’m reading a book (of course!) that is magnifying all of these feelings. I’ve blogged about Gretchen Rubin’s work before—no doubt you’ve heard about or read The Happiness Project. I’m almost done with her follow-up book Happier at Home
It has some really practical ideas about how to create harmony in the home. Maybe that’s what I’m getting at with all of this—I not only want to feel the harmony and delight as I watch it on a dvd player 10 years later—I want to have my family (including me) feel it now.
One of my favorite quotes in her book is from William Morris: The true secret of happiness lies in the taking of genuine interest in all the details of daily life. There are parts of our days at the Blair abode that barely get a nod of acknowledgement let alone serious focus. As much as we try to implement the “dinner table time is sacred” idea, there always seems to be several days in the week when it just doesn’t happen. I’m aiming to change this in ’13 as well as redirect my lunch time plans so that I’m not shoving a sandwich in my face while I go through email. That’s what I loved about traveling in Italy–every meal was a production and a celebration with time spent in prep and lingering at the end. I often ask myself what I would have to give up in my vida loca American existence to enjoy meal time like the Italians. My guess is “not a lot”, but in our culture we’re so stuck on getting to the next thing rather than dwelling on the here and now. I’m weary of this and want to take steps to change it—in myself and in my family. I’m betting I don’t have to pack up the fam and move overseas to do it.
My list for improving our own “happier at home” existence is:
1) Eat at least five meals a week at the table as a family.
2) Observe a tech-holiday on Sunday and have at least an hour of just reading and lounging.
3) Take a family adventure (however small) each weekend.
4) Celebrate the end of the week each Friday with a restaurant outing (we take turns picking which place).
5) Sit on the kids’ beds for a few minutes each night at bedtime to connect.
6) Date night, date night, date night
7) Turn off the radio in the car and ask questions about school at day’s end…listen more than talk.
8) Have several family get-aways on the calendar that we can look forward to and plan.
9) Always kiss PH hello and goodbye (Rubin calls it “Give warm greetings and farewells”).
10) Start my gratitude practice again…every night write 5 things that I’m grateful for during the day….why did I stop doing this? It was so effective.
What things would you include on your list, lovelies?
I hope your holiday was wonderful. Thinking of all of you folks socked in with the snow storms—a White Christmas! How lovely.