A Week Within
After the emotional and physical entrapments of last week, we took a week to go within. We barely spoke or saw anyone. We didn’t go to the Tuesday night Gringo Party, didn’t go talk to theneighboring school about volunteering, didn’t go to the weekly Gingo morning market at Boquete Community Players, didn’t follow up with the Boquete Rotary, we didn’t go online, didn’t go meet neighbors, didn’t follow up on classes andactivities we wanted to pursue. We went inside, on a deep journey inside tocleanse and heal and balance our souls and our family relationships.
After last week’s hell, we knew something had to change. We also knew that the onlyway things would dramatically improve would be for Kobi and I to talk. To talk,to yell, to blame each other for a few things, to feel sorry for ourselves, tolet out all the built-up frustrations. After which (and only after which), wecould let in the light, the leadership, the cooperation, the friendship, thevision-making, the plans that would keep us sane, fruitful, balanced, andjoyful.
Kobi and I sat up late at nights and talked and talked andtalked. What is the point of this trip anyway? Do we have the energy (or thedesire) to reinvent ourselves each time anew? Where do each of us feel there is an unjust division of labor? What things/behaviors/situationsdo we find intolerable in each other and with our children? What is reallyimportant to us? What do we want our days to look like? What are we not gettingout of our days, that we want to?
We took the answers to these questions and were able, withlight, to rebuild the foundations for this trip, our relationships, and ourweekly schedule. No one is ill; the car is working; we’re not stuck in otherpeople’s issues and dramas. We are free to navigate our total freedom towardsmeaningfulness. Here are the six things we came up that have miraculously havechanged EVERYTHING this week.
1- Adults to bed bymidnight, latest.
When we are exhausted, we are neither kindnor productive parents. We wake up in a foul mood, and it starts the new daywith old, limping energy. It is tempting to stay up well into the night to getwork done, to talk, to bond, without our children. On most nights this pastweek by 11 we were in bed. It feels great to get a good night’s sleep.
2- Kids to bed by 8:30.
We are no longer blessed with amazing guests orfamily who alter ourdaily schedules and entice us by the specialness of their presence to bend allthe normative rules. Our kids to have a clear, understood time in which theirevening ends, for them, and also, for us. When the kids are down by 8:30, thatleaves mom and dad a full 3+ hours to be adults.
3- Begin night-timeroutine at 6:30.
We expect a lot from our kids andintentionally give them a lot of responsibilities. That choice requires time.If we serve dinner at 6:30, that gives our children an hour and a half to eatdinner, to clear the table, wipe down the table and chairs, and sweep thefloor; and wash all of the dishes. Also, in that same hour and a half they needto shower, brush their teeth, floss, and make their beds ready for sleep. If Ienter the room around 8, with fully fed, cleansed, and ready to sleep children;that gives their mother 30-45 minutes to lovingly read them the next story of Greek Mythology, and to doa night-timemeditation.Genius!
4- Daily familyexercise.
Physical fitness has always been a hugething for us. We knew, that this time away from our normal demanding liveswould be devoted to getting back in shape. It’s important for both of us, andis something we wanted to give to our kids. If they know, without a doubt, thatevery weekday, our family exercises; they’ll do it. Whenever Kobi and I areclear (inwardly, and then outwardly) about something, it goes smoothly.
This week, we have exercised every singlemorning. We walked/jogged on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; we did stretches onThursday; we did alooooooooonghike on Friday. The kids know we have Saturday and Sunday off (eventhough we may occasionally hike on the weekends), and that come Monday, we wakeup in the morning to exercise. All week, very little complaining, a lot oftaking initiative, some great talks while walking/jogging, and lovely displaysof fitness leadership on the kids’ part. We are thrilled.
5- Formal studies everyday.
This one we have Kobi to thank for. He hasalways felt that the kids need more direction, more academic studies than Ihave. This week, I have seen the immense value of disciplined, repetitive,linear educational studies. We’ve focused on mathematics this week, and havewitnessed, with about two hours of intensive study a day, how our children havegrasped and excelled in numeric concepts that were totally foreign to them. OnThursday, when Kobi had to take care of car insurance and registration, we toldthem we would not learn have classes. (Are you ready for this?…) They begged.Not only have they for the most part enjoyed studying and have learned, butthey have probably gained in one concentrated week of patient, guided learningwhat they would have learned in at least 2 months in the classroom. I know thatmay sound ridiculous, but I kid you not.
We’ll take our youngest Solai as anexample. We’ve discovered, for the first time, her analytical, mathematicalgenius. We started this week with addition in one and two digit varieties. 23 +5= sort of thing. Within an hour she was doing long addition with carrying overto the ten’s, hundred’s and thousand’s place. 6849 + 4679= sort of thing. Wewere amazed. We did long subtraction this week too. Same remarkable progress. Exactlyfour lessons later, our first grader with almost zero formal educationalbackground, was solving multiplication problems. From her notebook, I amcopying 253 x 2= 506. (Yes, I’m the mom, so, it makes sense that I’m amazed!)
6- Tread gently, withlight.
We’ve recognized that we all have needs,and we all have moments. By treading gently, we are being conscious of thescenes before us, without getting totally engrossed in them. If Kobi recognizesthat he is about to lose it, he just has to reach over and communicate thatneed to me, and I’ll be there for him, I’ll take over. If I am reaching the endof my string, if one of our children is obviously needing something, our roleas parenting leaders is to be there for each other, to create a space that willallow that need to solve itself.
That requires gentleness, and light.
We started, this week, to find out what wasimportant for us and for the kids, what things were important for us all toexperience. Orazi wants to play family baseball; Dahnya wants pedicured nails;Solai wants to sit in a coffee shop alone with her mom. We all want Spanishclasses; we’ve metRaulwho is happy to teach them focused soccer skills; Barbarais thrilled to teach art classes; we areready to start volunteering at the local school. Now, slowly, with gentleness,and light, we will start adding deliberately thought-through things into ourschedule. We will continue with our exercise, study, and sleep time routinesand will slowly, add in things to enrich our stay here in Boquete, whilepreserving our family’s emotional and physical needs.
Amen to the freedom of the road for forcingto us bring meaning into our lives. Amen to a partner who is willing to parent withme and willing to allow us the grace to be less than perfect. Amen to God, tothe Universe, to myself, and to you, for lovingly reading and being a part ofour self-discovery. Amen to hellish family momentsand to ‘our week within’. They jointly have enabled, forour family, a great awakening. Amen.