A reminder to not let the little joys tucked inside of boredom escape through incessantly, unnecessarily filling our time with phones, screens and to-do’s:
I sometimes, ungraciously, fill the down spaces of my day. Often, I have to remind myself not to do this.
It’s a particularly important reminder because I’m raising two little kids.
Each day, with two small children home with me, is one filled with unexpected joys, disheartening struggles, happiness beyond my wildest dreams at simply being told the strawberry shortcake I made is the “best thing ever”, as well as stress that makes me question if I can handle this parenting gig that I’m already far, far inside of.
Motherhood is wondrous, as kids are endlessly fascinating, but it’s the other moments that sometimes keep me afloat—when my girls are finally chilled out together coloring or reading a book or watching a TV show, that I dash into the kitchen and sneak a quiet phone call to my sister, or I finally text my friend back, or I hop on Facebook and click “like” on a few friends’ posts before my kids noticed I was on the phone and now urgently need me for no real reason at all. These stolen moments of “me” time in a day filled with caring for other people sustain me more than I’m comfortable admitting. And still they do.
While I’ll easily say that “wasted time” like Facebook and texting are things I, even as an adult, need to keep in check and keep balanced, I won’t anytime soon be found on an anti-social media soap box because, in my life as a mother to young kids, it provides friendship and connections in a way that are hard for me to feel, unfortunately, in real life right now. This said, it’s good for me to be bored—no, it’s great for me to be bored.
It’s important that I remember that the best part of my whole day was when my 20 month old looked into my eyes and smiled and acted intentionally silly to make me laugh. I could have missed it easily if I hadn’t put down my phone.
Being bored forces me to experience real life.
I’m forced to look up at the way the clouds look like white, cottony wisps across a neon blue because I’m outside playing with my girls, without a screen between them and me. I’m forced to read with my kids, and to hear how well they know this particular story we’ve read a hundred times, because I set my own book on the edge of the couch to share theirs instead. This kind of “force” is the real gift of my life, not being retweeted by a celebrity or selling a certain number of books. It’s funny how easy it is to place false importance on unimportant things and people, but to ignore, or not properly appreciate, the ones that so deeply matter.
I see how cool it is that my oldest makes rainbows using the spaces between her fingers, with her palm spread out across her construction paper, carefully selecting a crayon to use as the next line. I observe this when I don’t go into the kitchen and leave her to color alone, because she’s being good and quiet and so I can get away with it.
This isn’t to negate the reality that it’s good for my kids to not have me helicopter-whirling around them all the time. Some of the best conversations between my two children are overheard when they think I’m not listening. They are left to learn for themselves how to value alone time, and boredom, and to be sustained and nourished by their own individuality, rather than filling these spaces and holes that are inevitble formed inside of us as we live, learning to plug them with people or experiences, if only to not have to feel our voids from time to time.
I want to be bored.
I want to love myself and my life enough to not gloss over it, but to dig my heels into the dirt around me that I grow from and simply experience the sensations of my toes in the mud.
Some days in our lives are harder to want to be present within than others. I find, again and again, that it’s these places when I’m best off making sure not to tune out.
And so each day I unplug, just a little—just long enough to be reminded that while I’m certainly not perfect, and my life isn’t either, it’s mine, and I love living in it.