“I didn’t have my peace today,” my daughter says as we walk into the house following a delicious, delightful, but overly-long dinner out with friends. She doesn’t mean “piece” like the piece of candy I first imagine, but rather “peace and quiet.” She explains this to me as if I am ten. I understand it as if I am eighty.
No kidding, Petunia. Neither did I.
She reaches for her Leapster. Although she may tell you haughtily that she has outgrown it, she does use it – primarily as a stand-in for the DSI she so desperately wants. Just wait, Child. You’re celebrating a birthday next week … Don’t you know yet that your present is a DSI? I wonder if it’s screen-time she wants, or downtime. Are they one and the same?
A week ago, she promised that mornings would go more smoothly if I woke her fifteen minutes early to spend time in bed quietly reading before getting ready for school. I was doubtful, but she knew. Is reading in bed also peace?
A month ago, I began waking fifteen minutes ahead of my family in order to open my day with a quiet shower – that is, a shower with the sounds of water pit-pattering against the sides of the tub, the sound of my own breathing and ever so quietly, ever so occasionally, the sound of my very own voice singing. I never articulated this change in routine, nor the reasons behind it, and neither my daughter nor my partner commented. But they did notice.
Patterns in families evolve. Morning rituals, evening rituals, homework, dinner, baths, showers. They shift, both with intent and without.
Mirrors and motion. Like mother, like daughter.
Find the peace. What is it, and where in my day does it belong?
I tend to think of peace – personal peace, not sociopolitical peace, not Todd Parr peace, but simple, daily peace – in long stretches, like road tripping down a tree-lined highway, or kayaking along a meandering river, like a book bursting with images or velvet words… like an hour on the back deck with the love of my life. Before settling into family life, I lived alone; I spent hours on the phone. This was its own kind of peace.
Lately, I find peace in the slant of sunlight through our front windows or in a ten-minute break between chores, wafting upwards like steam from my morning coffee. Now peace can be a family walk around the block with our dogs in the evening, or a simple lavender bath. Without my peace, I become irritable, anxious, curt, demanding. I lose my empathy.
So why is peace not a ritual like making the bed, setting the table, packing and unpacking our bags for the day? Why is it expendable?
When my daughter takes her Leapster off the shelf and turns it on, she knows it’s time for bed. It’s why she complains. She wants downtime, quiet time, time for herself before ending her day. Or maybe she just wants to play a video game.
“Let’s not go out to dinner on a school night again,” I suggest to my partner after our young one has gone to bed.
“Okay,” she agrees. We’ll eat dinner at home for two weeks, and see how it goes.
Saying your peace, making the time. Simple or not so simple?
What’s your peace, and how do you make the time?