As I’m writing this, my children are upstairs “putting away books,” making more noise than a stampede of dinosaurs at Jurassic Park. They’re screaming, yelling, sliding furniture, laughing, and slamming doors, and you know what? I’m OK with that.
This, I think, is a sign not of neglectful parenting, but of my incredible calm and relaxation, the likes of which can only be derived from nearly two weeks of not really having to be anywhere, at any time, ever. Sure they’re making noise. Sure the tide will turn. Sure one of them will walk out of it crying, injured, or in need of intense therapy in adulthood. But right now I’m not really worried about that. I am so de-stressed, so drama free, so many miles from the blacked in squares of last year’s calendar, that only a trip to the ER might snap me out of it. Even then, I say “might.”
I guess I’m at the end of my drama rehab—honestly, it’s been going so well that I stopped keeping track of the days. The original idea was 40 days to drama-, worry-, and stress-free living, with the holiday season providing the best growing conditions for those particular strains. The initial hairy drama encounters and their subsequent highlights are recorded in my Drama Rehab Journal (see the column on the left of this page), but I’m happy to report that the closer I’ve gotten to the finish line, the fewer near occasions of drama there have been. And over the stretch from Christmas to New Year’s Day there’s been nothing to report.
I’m thankful to be starting off a new year with a more relaxed outlook. I fear that once the schedule inevitably revs up, my one step forward will turn into a fireman’s pole worth of sliding back. But I’m not going to worry about that, because I’m staying out of the worry business. This year I’ll try to avoid scheduling crunches, scheduling conflicts, overcommitment, and under-enrichment. I’ll practice rolling my eyes and smiling more, gnashing my teeth and steaming less. During these winter months I’ll try to make our home a haven for my family—a static-free environment where we can shut out the stress and recharge ourselves with mutual support and free-flowing home-baked goods.
Craig and I gave the kids a Wii for Christmas, and we told them that it doesn’t work in an environment of negativity (sort of like how we told them that the man from the car dealership said no snacks allowed in the minivan). So far that’s encouraged sharing and equitable turn-taking, but I think it applies to more than the Wii, doesn’t it? My 40 years of experience as myself has taught me that I don’t really work in an environment of negativity. It’s about time I did something about that.