What’s Your Peace?

23 Mar

“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? 


4 Responses to “What’s Your Peace?”

  1. Jere March 23, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Good question! I’m with baby girl, I keep telling MY mother the same the same thing but she’s not listening. Good for you for listening.

    • rrp69 March 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Thanks, Jere! You caught me on a good-listening day 🙂 I feel lucky, too, that you’re one of baby girl’s fans. I hope one day she’ll appreciate how lucky we are to have such thoughtful and spirited people in our lives!

  2. Eileen March 23, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I think the peace time we make for ourselves is expendable because those we love are so important to us. Why then, do we not love ourselves equally? Can we not love those important to us even better if we are content ourselves? Therefore, do we need to find this time for us in our daily lives?

    I find my peace with nature all around me – wherever I can find it. In the mountains, at the seashore, on the patio with the flowers and bird’s songs all around me.

    Thanks for writing – I enjoy reading your weekly posts. You’re a wonderful, sensitive mom.

    • rrp69 March 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Thank you, Eileen! I do think we put our time so often into those we love, forgetting that quality time – the kind of time that makes us feel truly connected – emerges best from a place of calm, a place of peace. It’s counter-intuitive, but sometimes I need to step away briefly from the people I love best, in order to be and give and share the best of myself.

      Your comment makes me feel both bouyant and grounded – thank you for sharing your peace.

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