Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Mother's Morning Walk, Redux

Yesterday, due to a cold my children so kindly gave me, I didn't take my morning walk.  It was the first school day where I didn't get my 20 minute morning respite from the noise and commotion of family life in weeks, and as I reflected on the day, I realized what a difference that little 20 minutes makes in my life, attitude, and the atmosphere of my home.

In January I wrote about a new part of my day, my morning walk.  It seems like such a little thing, these twenty minutes or so outside by myself.  I'm not covering any great distance, only walking down the road or perhaps to the creek and back, but it lightens my mood, gives me more patience, and vastly helps me to tackle the challenges of the day with good, or at least better, humor than I would have otherwise.  Even in the few months I've been doing this, it has created deep and beneficial change in myself and my children.

Every day, I challenge myself to notice something in particular. It might be an observation about something I've been watching for awhile, like finally spotting the spider responsible for the web over the little roadside puddle.  Or it might be something entirely new, like a wildflower that has suddenly come into bloom or catching a glimpse of a bird I hadn't seen before.  I also challenge myself to remember things I've seen before and to check them on them periodically.  Is the crab apple in bloom yet?  Are the Pileated Woodpeckers in any of the dead pines above the road?  How are the oaks progressing in their leafing out?  Do I see any new dying pines?  Can I remember the names of the different wildflowers I've been trying to learn and identify?

These walks remind me that that very little is learned quickly.  It takes time to see how many batches of frog eggs will be laid in that roadside puddle, how long it will take before the tadpoles will finally get legs (months, in the case of these leisurely tadpoles).  It takes time and days of watching to finally catch the spider in action or finally get a good look at a bird I've seen and heard many times.  And in this I grow, slowly, in my patience with my children, as they struggle to master the mechanics of long division or the pronunciation of a word.

My observations spill into my family as I bring home news of my sightings.  Sometimes my children will say, "oh, Mom, we noticed the western buttercups blooming below the house days ago!" and sometimes I'm able to share something they haven't yet noticed.  Because of my sharing, they have been much more observant when they are playing outside, as well as more forthcoming in sharing their finds with me and with each other.

I also find that my walks help me to be in a better frame of mind for our morning time.  Rather than rushing through the breakfast clean-up and dressing the young ones or waiting impatiently for my older children to finish up so we can get going on our morning, I come back in invigorated, cheerful, and filled with a peaceful readiness to take on what the day holds.