Taking Life As It Comes

keep-calm-and-mellow-out

Dave and I had an infamous (well, to us, anyway) conversation several years ago that began with him telling me, at great length and in vivid detail, about his then-current hopes and aspirations in life.

He then ended by saying, “Kath, I guess what I’m saying is, are you living the life you imagined?”

“Yup.” I replied.

There was a long silence, and then we both howled laughing.

Because, really, the conversation was so typically us. Dave likes to examine everything in detail, with the nuance of a writer, analyst, and anthropologist. I love listening to him dissect situations, and examine alternatives out loud. He worries about the existential nature of life, how we fit into the universe, and why we’re here, in this form.  I, generally, do not worry about these things, and, as such, don’t have much to say. My talkative brothers describe car trips with me as “painful,” since I’m usually quiet.

I have gotten better since we’ve had children, especially since we have kids who are so inquisitive and philosophical. I also talk a lot when I have something I care about, and tend to interrupt people, but I have to confess this is generally because I just want to say what needs to be said and get to the end of the conversation. At home, my kids talk a lot, so I don’t have to. I just need to listen, and I’m pretty good at that particular skill.

While I definitely have my goals in life – and have achieved many of them – I typically take life as it comes.  If I have a certain way I’d like to see things done, then I make sure they are done that way. I round on my own patients, while insisting that nurses and other support staff do what work belongs to them. I don’t make “honey do” lists for Dave; if I want something done, I do it – or arrange to have it done – myself. Dave does the same, and we discuss as we go.

After part-time homeschooling over the last two years, we embarked on full-time homeschooling our three kids this month. This is definitely a “take it as it comes” arrangement: every day brings new joys, challenges, discoveries, and heartbreaks. We make a schedule, then ignore it some days; the kids start projects, then get interested in something else. We try to walk a balance between insisting they complete a course or project, and allowing them to wander among their activities and interests, knowing that once something catches their imagination, they will run without any help from us. The trick is forcing ourselves to wait, and not intervene, while the learning process develops naturally on its own.

I live among intense kids who feel exuberance and despair, and I am part of the balance in their lives. Now that we are together and learning every day, that balance feels even more important. The conversation still goes on in our house, with Dave spinning tales to the kids about the wonder and amazement in the universe, and I listen, engaged in the conversation, adding my own comments here and there.  When the kids ask me if I’m happy, I still answer “Yup,” and then break out a huge smile.

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