Thursday, March 2, 2017

Of "Little House" and Survival Mode

The kids and I are reading "On the Banks of Plum Creek" by Laura Ingalls Wilder - one of the books in her "Little House" series. I love sharing this book with them - laughing, and crying, and feeling like a part of Laura's family. My older kids definitely identify with Laura and Mary, and their younger sister is just about the same age as Laura and Mary's younger sister. There are uncanny parallels in personalities: the quiet and cautious oldest child, the observant, caring, and a bit wild middle child, and the cute toddler who is growing up fast and is able to do more every day. I love that chores and schoolwork are mentioned in almost every chapter. I love the description of their leisure time: telling stories, listening to Pa's fiddle, and playing games.

This book has reminded me to be more patient with the kids, to see the world through their eyes, to allow myself the sense of wonder in all the little things around me: the wind, the snow, the sun, the birds, the flowers.

I told the kids today - Laura and her family did not have TV, tablets, or computers. Imagine, how did they spend their time? Then I thought - they didn't have many books, either. Then I thought some more...  Laura's family had a minimal amount of possessions. Keeping things clean, neat, and organized must have been straight-forward. Yes, they had to do laundry by hand, but they only had -what - 2 dresses each? Same goes for doing dishes and dusting ...  They worked very hard (farming, taking care of farm animals, sewing and mending their own clothing). We work hard, too, just in a different way. However, many of our "hardships" are self-inflicted. My husband and I always moan about doing kid laundry - but it was our choice to have so much clothing for our 3 kids. We could ask kids to wear the same outfit a few times... but we don't, and we complain about yet another giant load that needs to go into the wash (if we had to do laundry by  hand, I guarantee we would not have as much stuff).

Laura's parents were in a survival mode. Sometimes, survival mode can be the best medicine against fatigue, procrastination, and the like - things must be done because our survival depends on it, so things get done. Whatever is not essential to survival can be dropped.

As I walk through our gigantic (warm) house, with our dishwasher, washer and dryer, indoor plumbing, and a thousand-and-one kitchen and dining things (how many bowls/spoons/pots did Laura and her family have?) - and let's not mention the toys and books - I complain about feeling overwhelmed, disconnected, trapped, in-need of a vacation from everyone and everything. Perhaps what I need is a little bit of a survival mode. Oy vey, first-world problems...

What puts you in a survival mode?
For me, it's the first 7-8 months after a birth of a child (especially 2nd and 3rd child....).

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