Thursday, March 29, 2012

Living Deliberately

When I was in my final two years of high school, I had the most amazing English teacher. She inspired me at every single lesson, she helped make English my favourite subject. I’m not sure I can even describe WHY exactly she inspired us – all I know is that I strived to produce better work each and every week, in order to gain her approval and praise.

I looked forward to those English classes more than any other – I connected with it in a way that I didn’t with any other class. I was fired with imagination, I loved the language, the literature, the concepts. I remember that we studied books like “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and “Twelve Angry Men”. I don’t remember things I studied in any other class, but I remember some of my English lessons quite well. I know that a lot of us in that class felt the same way. 

Our teacher never played favourites, as long as we put in the work, we were all treated with the same level of respect.

Sometimes she would laugh and talk about how at home she would put on some classical music, turn the volume right up, and set about vacuuming her whole house to the strains of Vivaldi, or Beethoven at full volume. I could picture myself doing something like that (although at the time I would have been listening to The Cure, not classical music). She imparted valuable knowledge onto me, I learned so much. I respected her, and I could also relate to her – I guess that’s the mark of a great teacher.

One thing that has really stuck out in my memory from that final year, was when we studied the movie “Dead Poets Society”, I have always remembered this quote:

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life, and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Henry David Thoreau

I love the notion of “living deliberately”. Living with purpose. Lately I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot – this is how I want to live. Not simply putting one foot in front of the other. Not simply existing; paying the bills, doing housework, hanging out washing, marking time.

Of course I want to be the best mum that I can be. At the moment though, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in the Sea of my ‘To-Do’ list. Having two little ones at home has its challenges of course, and its all to easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and to feel like nothing is getting done. When the reality of course is that nothing is more important than nurturing and shaping my littlies so that they feel safe, secure and loved beyond measure.

I want to strive to make the most of each day. I want to give these kids the best damn childhood that anyone could wish for. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to spoil them with material things, but we are going to spoil them with LOVE. We’re going to spoil them with experiences, family camping trips, day trips to the beach, picnics in the backyard, cubby houses under the dining table. Dancing around together like mad things, just because its fun. Running around and being silly in the rain, not caring about getting mud on our clothes – just because. Wearing our “good” clothes around the house because it makes us feel nice - and not saving them for special occasions (and then growing out of them before we get to wear them).  Doing things because it makes us feel happy.

Also - saying “I love you” regularly… my own family were never very good at this (and still aren’t, sadly – even though I KNOW that we all love each other, we have never verbalized it) so I’m making up for that with my own children. They will never have to wonder if they are loved, or feel starved for cuddles or public displays of affection, they are hearing it, and experiencing it all the time - right now, every day.

When I look back on the memories of my childhood, the things that I remember most, the things that give me the warmest, fuzziest feelings, are the simple things. Things like helping dad wash the caravan when I was 5, the family camping holiday that always got rained out, so that we were all wet and cold but oh so happy.  The four of us travelling around in the caravan on our holidays, seeing the sights.  Or learning to play Canasta with my dad, and ending up always beating him.  Riding a spare mattress like a sled down the stairs, ending in a great laughing heap at the bottom.  Or the great Lego cities that my brother and I always built, using our imagination to create elaborate epic stories to go with them.

I dont care (or even remember) if we had the fanciest TV or not, or the best or worst house, or the nicest or daggiest car.  I remember the fun, happy times.

So what I’m trying to say is that I want to stop and smell the roses, to stop and consider how the simple, small things are what makes us happy – not more money, not the big, flashy, expensive, material things. Things like the first coffee of the morning. Having a great hair day or getting a good nights sleep. Little things like appreciating your husband for filling the petrol tank up for you (one of those jobs I HATE!), or giving your children random cuddles, just because they were standing there.  I am going to deliberately make an effort every day to make happy memories for me and my family.

I am all too familiar with stressing about the small stuff – I’ve spent the vast majority of my life doing it, and often it can sap you of energy and leave you feeling like a deflated balloon. So this is going to take a conscious effort on my part. But with practice, it will become as easy as breathing.

Take a look around now – there are SO many things to be grateful for!


Francesca said...

This is a great post. I've been feeling the same way a bit lately. It's so easy to get mowed down with the day-to-day. Sometimes, we have moments which detach us from that and help us to see what's really important. I think the key is remembering and holding onto those important things once the moment of clarity passes and the day-to-day takes over again. Happy memory making!

linda said...

what a lovely post Hilary. Your children are very lucky to have such a thoughtful and loving family. You are right- it's the little things you remember not the fancy possessions. This time goes so quickly. I look back and think I could have done things so much better but one thing our children never have to worry about is being loved and supported. Even now- at ages 34 and 31- we can still show that support. The truly wonderful thing about having adult children is that they show it back!

Debbie said...

Hilary, your last few posts have really struck a chord with me. I'm also a mum to two little ones (3 and 18 months)....and, incidentally, a high school English teacher (currently on mat leave). I'm at a stage in my mothering where I'm searching for others who are walking the same path - wanting to live in the moment and be grateful for the blessings I have been given in my two children: mindful of the fact that my job right here and right now is to create memories for my children. If you're inclined to do so, I would love for you to drop me an email so that I might share some thoughts in relation to your recent posts (sorry, I don't have a blog).

Magda said...

Beautiful post Hilary.

:-) M

Hilary said...

You are so right Francesca, the day to day can really sap our strength cant it? It really does take a conscious effort to appreciate the small things, in my case I just need constant reminders!

Linda I hope that one day I can look back on my kids childhood and know that I did the best I could to make those happy memories for them - sounds like your kids are very lucky to have you too!

Thank you Debbie, I shot you an email :) would love you hear your thoughts.

Thanks Magda!

Hilary xx