So tonight I found myself in need of the, um, facilities, so I crept off to the master bath, leaving my incredibly competent husband with our kids. My thought – that I might actually have a few uninterrupted moments – quickly proved unrealistic. Within seconds, I found myself engaged in what can perhaps best be termed “Mommy Marco Polo”…
“Mommy?” calls Katy.
“Using the potty!” I reply – obviously not loudly enough.
“Mommy!” she yells.
“Potty!” I’m waiting for Ted to jump in here, but clearly he’s got other things on his plate, because Katy continues her quest to discover my covert location.
It becomes clear that this round will not be over until the two of us are reunited. I hurry along the process as best as I can and go find my girl.
One thing I’ve discovered about unschooling is this: prepare to be interrupted. Plan for it. Embrace it. In fact, redefine it.
We moms learn early on that our babies need us often – and usually in the middle of whatever we happen to be doing. Phone conversations, meals, sleep, and yes, even trips to the bathroom are cut short so we can tend to our small fry. As our kids get older, we expect that they should need us less, and leave us alone more. And when this doesn’t happen, it’s easy to get annoyed.
That’s certainly how I used to feel (okay, sometimes I still do!) But I’ve learned that embracing the philosophy of radical unschooling means that I need to be available to my children when they need me. It means leaving the dishes half-rinsed to help Thomas with his computer game. Sometimes it means eating my meal in snatches or rethinking the phone calls I make. It means a LOT of “interruptions”.
Practicing unschooling has required major shifts in my thinking and internal dialogue. I’ve come to realize that viewing my children’s needs as “interruptions” was not only a very negative perspective, but also an inaccurate one. Somewhere along my mothering journey, I had lost sight of the fact that I had chosen to be a stay-at-home mom, not a laundress, chef, or professional toilet scrubber. It’s amazing how these other household duties can slowly but surely climb to the top of our “to do” lists, as if their importance merits top billing.
So now, if I’m in the middle of cleaning the kitchen and suddenly all four of my kids decide they need a snack, I find myself thinking, “the tidying will keep.” I try not to say, “just a minute!” unless it really will be a minute. And I focus on the blessings in the moment:
When the baby has nursed so long that I have pretty much lost all sensation in one arm, I think about the incredible closeness breastfeeding has brought us.
When I am literally pinned between two small, sleepy bodies, I remind myself that in the blink of an eye those sleepy bodies will choose their own beds over mine, taking their snuggles with them.
When I’m up and down so many times during breakfast that it practically becomes brunch before I finish it, I think of the older people in my life who can linger over their meals, but are lacking the wild and joyous ruckus that accompanies my every bite.
And the more I embrace what is, the more connected my children and I become. In the end, all those “interruptions” really weren’t interruptions at all. Turns out, they were opportunities I’m so glad I didn’t miss!