Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gypsy Children

Gypsy Girl
1879 Giclee Print
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The months' events stretch forward on my calendar like so many ducks-in-a-row. But because I HAVE to provide myself some breathing space, some quiet spots for reading and thinking, I sometimes allow the kids to sleep late. I catch my time for renewal while they are asleep.

Then I feel guilty. Am I requiring enough from them? Am I inadvertently teaching them to be lazy and undisciplined? Perhaps I am lazy myself for indulging in morning quiet hours?

I wrestle with guilt even more when I speak to other mothers whose children are schooled 7 hours a day, engage in extra-curricular activities & sports, and do 3 to 5 hours of homework in the evening. What I require from my students seems a mere pittance in comparison.

I'm older than many of these other mothers, having come to the role of motherhood late in life. I've had time to accumulate some observations along the way: families that have overloaded schedules often cut out or miss regular fellowship time with the saints. I suspect--though I have no proof-- that they also miss out on a fair number of family meals and personal devotions. It's also probable that there are no leisurely walks, no lingering in bed a few extra minutes when it rains, no reading of books just-for-fun, nor indulging in a second cup of coffee over conversation with a loved one. Does this sound critical?

My aim is for a well-rounded life. There are times I think I succeed at that. There are other times I am either too lax or too regimented. Always, there is tweaking and evaluating when it comes to being a steward over the hours entrusted to me.

Typically (and ideally), I arise at 5:30 and have my quiet time, exercise, and grooming done before the kids get up (7:30). This works well UNTIL: a) travel schedules deplete the mother b) late nights deplete the children c) sickness slows the family down.

When this happens, I get up when I wake up. I sit in my chair and read until I am finished. Then I get the kids up. It may be 8:30. It may be 9:45 (GASP). And we proceed from there.

Now the Lord sometimes intervenes in mysterious ways to show me that I need to give the same cosideration to my children that I give to myself. Children, too, need quiet spaces in their lives.

This week, my little Artiste begged off from her art lesson at the museum. This is uncharacteristic of her; normally those lessons are the highlight of her week. Her reason, "I've been too busy. I need a break."


But she needs a break.

An artist, even a young one, cannot crank out masterpieces week after week without having a margin of inactivity in her life. She needs to play in the mud puddles, wield a stick, inhale the fragrance of fall. "Masterful inactivity" was what Charlotte Mason called it. These are the essentials that feed the creativity of artists. Could I demand Artiste produce art when her heart was crying out for renewal?

We skipped this one lesson~~guilt, be gone! There are some things more important than the cost of a measly art lesson.

I've seen the same principles at work with my oldest daughter, Melody. Melody normally composes a lovely piano piece about every 6 months. A few years ago, I noticed that the composition had come to a halt. After some investigating, it became obvious to me that I was the culprit. She was dutifully cranking out all the homeschool assignments I had required of her without complaint, but she had no time left over. There were no spaces left in her life for quiet; no time to just mess around at the piano; no time to engage playfully in her art. I relieved her of several requirements and within a month she was writing music again.

Tellingly, Melody chose a poem entitled "Leisure" to recite for her cooperative school speech class. It's not fine literature by any stretch of the imagination; it would be considered poetry of the working class in the last century. But it's obvious that the theme struck a chord in Melody's heart. The author of the poem, William Henry Davies, was a tramp. He was a gypsy-poet who lost his leg in one dramatic leap from a train.

Ah~~we risk losing our children to the gypsies when we turn them loose amongst the books!


William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are right on and a wonderful mother and teacher. Don't be so hard on yourself. You are correct in your balancing act, just ask God, He will confirm it..