Saturday, May 2, 2009

Balance and Benign Neglect

More and more Zach and I are finding that benign neglect is our parenting style of choice. I don't know if it's weariness from 5 years of parenting, the girls' budding independence or the fact that they have turned out to be such cool little people in spite of my failings as a parent, but pretty much all of the mommy guilt of their baby years has been wrung out of me.

As I write this I have spent the vast majority of a sleepy, sunny Saturday morning by myself. The girls woke up at 7:00AM and after their morning snuggle, proceeded to the kitchen to help themselves to graham crackers and fruit before heading off to watch Saturday morning cartoons on PBS. I took my time waking up, drinking a cup of coffee in bed as I did a little reading.

After a while I instructed them to turn off the TV, and for several hours now they have been busily engaged in making "worm cake" and a house for ants made of dirt and scrap wood on the deck. Meanwhile I made myself a fried egg and toast, checked my e-mail and did a little writing, enjoying the warmth of the May morning sun as it streams in the window of my little tree house bedroom and the still-novel sound of birds chirping outside.

I can hear them on the deck below, discussing how much water to add to this worm cake and who will eat the other one. Occasionally a disagreement arises, but I don't rush out to intervene. They work the problem out for themselves.

It feels like laziness, beautiful, blessed laziness, typing this as Zach sleeps and the girls play. There was a time I would have felt guilty about this lazy morning, after all, my lethargy this morning is my own fault. I was up well past midnight last night laughing and talking with two old friends around a bonfire when I probably should have been sleeping, but the days of guilt have passed.

Of course our days aren't all like this. Some days I like to have a big home-cooked breakfast and spend the day doing activities as a family. Some days I go to bed early and wake up feeling happy and productive, but I love the balance of days like today when we can relax and enjoy our irresponsibility and imperfection.

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