Back when parenting was new and terrifying (as opposed to now, when it’s less new but equally terrifying), I read my share of New-Mommy-and-Daddy books.
One told me that we North American parents value freedom and having stuff, so we give Little Ethan and Little Amelia new toys every day, combined with choices about everything from what color towel to use after bath time to how many Cheerios go on their high chair tray, plus total reign of the four-bedroom house. All this should give them a big juicy sense of freedom, so they spread their wings and fly to the stars.
Instead, this parenting guru said this: “What little ones need are limits.” Plop Little Ethan in his six-square-foot playpen with the same board book he always drools on, the same little truck he always bashes on the playpen railing, and the same fuzzy blanket he always smashes his face into. You might think he’s going to get bored. Instead he gets smarter. He feels safer. He pays attention.
I’m the kind of gal who wants to say yes to everything. I once took a personality test that gave every personality type a motto. My motto was “Anything’s possible.” (Incidentally, Adam’s was “Let’s get busy.” So that explains a lot about our lifestyle).
The problem is, anything isn’t possible. Not in my lifetime or yours. And when I try to make it all possible, I miss everything whizzing past my windshield at eighty miles per hour.
People like us always hear the advice, “Just say no to more commitments.” “Stop being so busy.”
I do say no to commitments, I do try to stop being so busy. And trying helps:
• I spend more time at home with family.
• I rarely look at anything on the web–I’m woefully ignorant of famous people.
• I remind myself the world will go on spinning and God will go on caring whether I meet every volunteer need in the city or not.
But there’s that part of me that still wants to tear down the playpen walls and go explore the distant hills.
That part of me needs help being satisfied with what’s in front of me. That part of me needs to practice wonder.
Just like Little Amelia in the playpen, when I stop and focus on what’s in front of me, I find no end of the amazingness of each little piece of the world.
Wonder is not about adding anything to your busy day. It’s about finding what already fits in that day and living it for all it’s worth.
You’ll be a less crabby toddler because of it.
Do you welcome limits on your life? Are you better for it?