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Engaging the Will

Young children may be their calmest and happiest when engaging in positive will activity along with adults who are working with their hands and loving their work.
~Discovering Joy in Parenting: The First Seven Years

I'll admit it, I have been really, really struggling lately.  Really.  It's been a long two months for our family.  We have felt so blessed and so. . . stretched.  Many good things have come out of it, many things have been challenging and many are also awaiting fruition (like health insurance!).  It seemed crazy to leave a job with a difficult schedule only to take on another one that involved being outright gone for multiple days a week.  I've been trying to go into it all with a good attitude, but I am tired!

Raking!Roan has, understandably, had a hard time with Mike being gone.  It was only two days last week, but our dear boy is happiest when we are all together here at home.  That can't always happen, of course, and so I've been working at holding everything together so that he feels secure more of the time.  I'm only human, though, and there are times when I am simply upset, too.  I want to feel secure, just like they do.

I've wished, many times, for a parenting reset button to help me find a good place again.  I purchased this short book to offer me some portable inspiration and it really has helped.  There are many good thoughts and real-life examples.  There were two things in the book that really spoke to me: the first being that we adults really need to model self-control in order to teach it to our children.  The second idea is that of engaging the will in a positive way, doing and enjoying meaningful work--keeping little hands busy with good things.

I've heard from mothers of many (way more than me) that giving children, especially boys, real challenging work is very helpful.  I agree--my children are so very pleased with themselves when they are out in the yard carrying sticks and pulling weeds.  Appetites and spirits improve immensely.  They are happy to help.  I've not been as consistent with it as I should have been, though.  I am now seeing that families with young children shouldn't have shaggy yards and weedy gardens when such work is so very good, all around.  They also love to help around the house.  I just need to cultivate my own patience and adapt myself to their pace.

Seeing our neighbors' yards fill with leaves, I have felt renewed.  We have set ourselves to the task of raking up a dozen or so bags of them for Carrie's garden and to insulate her outdoor spigot.  I am coming to see that it is important to have chores that carry us through the year.  Few are as glamourous as berry-picking in June and July, but they all have value.  There are gardens to clear, leaves to rake, snow to shovel, seeds to plant, weeds to pull, harvests to gather, pantries to fill and then it all circles around again.

Mike has been writing more music lately and feeling more creative.  We concluded it was all that painting he was doing.  His friends were surely envious of his temporary work.  I've been finding great contentment in mowing the yard again, even if my days are already full.  Working with our hands, loving our work, looking for the next thing that needs doing.

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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