11 November 2010

Thankful for: Smooth Sailing

I snapped this picture with my phone (Hipstamatic) when we were in Bastrop last month.  Don't they look like they're about to go and discover something, or conquer a new land?  Between the two of them, I don't doubt their ability.

I love moments where everything in the universe seems to align and point right to the truth you needed to see.  I had one of those moments the Sunday morning of our camping trip.  You know I think a lot about family and parenting and being a better Mommy and wife...probably too much.  But I do.  That Sunday morning, we went for a canoe ride.  It was the first time I'd been in a canoe since before Kayci was born, and the first time either kid had ever been in a canoe.  Sounds a little scary, but it really wasn't--they both sat very still and for the most part followed directions really well.  It was so nice to be out on the lake (it's a little one, but a lake nonetheless) in the stillness of the morning.  The weather was perfect, it was quiet...and even sitting in a small craft with my entire family, I was able to really BE and think for a little while.  (When does that happen?  Never...)

Here's what I thought about:  that canoe ride was exactly like our family life.  For things to go smoothly, there could only be one boss/leader--and that's James.  There's a definite chain of command when you're on a canoe...and I was second.  And you know what?  That was okay.  I know a lot, but not enough to keep our family afloat.  Keeping that canoe steady and moving in the right direction required teamwork and clear communication...both giving directions and listening for directions, then carrying out said directions.  For every action, there was a reaction.  Kayci wanted to see what would happen when we only paddled on one side, so we showed her...and promptly went in circles.  What a great lesson that was!  Paddling, like life, is all about balance.  She also wanted to see what it was like to paddle--and was surprised at how hard it was.  It looked easy when we did it, because we're older and bigger and have had lots of practice.  I'm thinking this will make for a good simile in the next few years when she tries to grow up too fast...help me remember.

Back to the for every action there was a reaction--we had a lot of fun dipping the tip of the paddle in the water and watching the ripples.  One very small touch led to ripples that made it all the way back to shore in some cases.  It's fascinating, the ripple effect:  I observe it often at work, when someone (sometimes me) makes a decision and the effects of that decision keep going and going in directions we never could have predicted (or could have, had we worked it out, but that's another story).  It's a bit dizzying when you think about how every choice we make in life or as a parent ripples out into eternity--how we treat our kids affects how they treat people and eventually, their own kids and then eventually, how those kids treat their kids...  What we spend the most time and effort on (whether that's work, money, appearance, family, self) teaches our kids that it's what we value the most--that's a ripple we don't often anticipate and try so hard to undo with words (family first, as we're heading out the door to work...things don't matter, as we buy the top of the line--again...it's not important what people think, as we suit up in the outfit of the season worn by all of our cool friends...I could go on).  So I think about that a lot--where will this decision lead?

Okay, the kids are up so I'm off.  I didn't even get to the obvious one about rocking the boat...Noble got a little wiggly by the end of the ride and demonstrated this one for us.

Here's to smooth sailing today.  And by the way, thanks to all of the veterans who've paved the way for us as Americans to have smooth sailing...and to be able to worry about silly things like canoe rides instead of where we'll get food for our kids and avoiding terrorists in the streets.

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