My husband is the king of spontaneity. He likes to say let’s go do something, and then do it. We used to go for drives, go to the movies, or go out to eat on a whim. I remember day trips to the mountains, bowling on a weeknight, or dropping by a friend’s house to play games. Sometimes, we’d even decide to go on a trip without much prior thought.
Then we added children to the mix.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change the children part at all, but they make doing spontaneous things difficult. And the difficulty increases exponentially with every child we’ve added. With the addition of our fifth child, our spontaneity levels dropped to an all-time low. I won’t even take the kids to the grocery store without serious forethought, planning, and fortification. (And let’s not forget will power.) A visit to a friend’s house requires a fully stocked diaper bag, the preparation of a crock pot dinner, and nap time preparations before we can go. And going out of town takes at least 24 hours of notice to get everything packed and planned for.
Spontaneity – meaning being able to do things on my time schedule and at my discretion, it seems, has gone the way of other pre-children pursuits.
But it has been replaced with some pretty fantastic spontaneous moments. Moments when I see my children grasp amazing concepts. Like when my Kindergartener said “Mommy, we’re floating in space, but right around us is painted.” He was talking about the color of the sky, because space appears black. Or moments when there is complete peace and harmony in the home. Like the time when my children all invented a game, and played all day long, without any fighting – the game was completely spontaneous. They were pretending to move. So they packed up their suitcases and moved from room to room in our house, then they would unpack, play in that room a while, repack, and then move again. Or the unexpectedly hilarious moments that keeps us laughing long after they are finished. One time my second grader made a honking sound when daddy touched the second grader’s nose. We all laughed, a lot, because of his spontaneity.
So, it seems, just like a lot of things, parenting changes what spontaneity means. No longer is being spontaneous defined by doing what I want to do the moment I want to do it. Now, it’s more about doing what my children want to do, when they want to do it.
I’ll admit this is a hard thing for me to do. Usually, what I want to get done feels much more important than what they want to do. But I’m learning. Like today, we played card games together for a good part of the day. Then we watched their favorite shows, together. Yes, the laundry monster is living in my front room again, and there are other chores that need to be done, but today, my kids and I played together. That’s spontaneity at its best.