There’s something about being up North at the cabin that allows your mind and body to enter a simpler state of calm, ease, and presence. It doesn’t happen immediately. It takes time to remember how to slow down and breathe, especially after being quarantined in your home with your husband and three children for over eight weeks. Maybe for some families it has been a time of connection and relaxation, but it doesn’t seem that way for us.
With the kids at home all the time it has felt like we are constantly just trying to keep up with laundry, groceries, meals, washing dishes, school work, and an assortment of chores that never seem to end. Having everyone in the house all the time has often left me feeling more exhausted than connected. By the time my youngest is in bed I have nothing left to give and am ready for some quiet time to myself rather than connecting with anyone else. Then it’s lights out and we do the same thing all over again.
For some reason the cabin feels different. It feels like we are on vacation from all the expectations that weigh us down at home. We can individually take more time to do what we love. We can all get a little more space. Everything slows down up here. The days feel longer and so much quieter. The sibling arguing is non-existent at the moment as we all take time to rest and fill ourselves up. Unlike our house, the cabin has an open floor plan, which also seems to add to the feeling of togetherness.
My husband got up early and went fishing this morning. I had time to make pancakes and read a book. My teens rode their bikes 14 miles round trip to the little store, something they’ve never done before. We gave them permission to go ahead and explore beyond their previous boundaries, a memory I’m sure they will never forget.
My youngest collected acorns. I saw him grabbing handfuls of sunflower seeds out of Grandpa’s bird feeder. I was about to yell at him to stop, but I paused and looked at his face. He was so in the moment, making a special concoction for the birds. I just sat and watched him. He found a container and mixed his acorns with the sunflower seeds. He stirred them with his hands and tried to crack the acorns open. Then he sprinkled them around the deck for the squirrels and birds. He saw me watching through the window and proudly smiled and waved. I was glad I didn’t disturb his creative flow.
Next my son got on his bike and we made it halfway down the driveway together. He jumped off to stop and feel the sand. He wanted me to stop and feel it too, so I reached down and rubbed my hand in the sand. He was right, it was super soft. We continued on. I was hoping to get in a good walk while he rode his bike, but he stopped at the end of the driveway. He got off his bike and plopped himself down on a dirt path.
I stood over him for a few minutes. I thought of hurrying him along, but instead I decided to sit and join him. He collected more acorns, buried them, and watched the ants crawl around. We sat there for a very long time. An old memory flashed through my head from when I was a little girl. I used to be just like him, enthralled with watching and collecting ants on our driveway for hours.
As parents life seems to get so busy and complicated. All we really need to do is slow down, be present, and allow everyone to have time to fill themselves up doing something they love. Tonight we will put the youngest to bed early and watch a movie together with the teens. Usually I would be too tired to do this, but tonight I am looking forward to it.
Now I just need to figure out how to bottle up the best parts of our north woods experience and bring it home with me!
~Do Bettter & Shine