I asked the zebra
Are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Or you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on
And on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra
There’s a hazardous sadness to the first sounds of someone else’s work in the morning; it’s as if stillness experiences the pain of being broken. The first minute of the workday reminds you of all the other minutes that a day consists of, and it’s never a good thing to think of minutes as invidivuals. Only after other minutes have joined the naked, lonely first minute does the day become more safely integrated in its dayness.
–Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
I really wanted to quote the entire article here, but out of respect for copyright I haven’t. It’s an intelligent article about the “cherish every moment” pressure and frenzy that accompanies parenting. The author portrays mindfulness — at least, what I attempt and occasionally manage to experience — beautifully.
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I’m doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can’t hear her because all I can think is — This is the first time I’ve really seen Tish all day, and my God — she is so beautiful. Kairos.
Like when I’m stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I’m haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I’m transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles and piles of healthy food I’ll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world’s mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.
Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.
These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.
–Glennon Melton, Don’t Carpe Diem
Kids are cute, babies are cute, puppies are cute. The little things are cute. See, nature did this on purpose so that we would want to take care of our young. Made them cute. Tricked us. Then gradually they get older and older, until one day your mother sits you down and says, “You know, I think you’re ugly enough to get your own apartment.”
“A grapefruit is a lemon that had a chance and took advantage of it.”
Please adjust your pace.
Having a rough moment? Day? Week? Month? Year? Life? Comfort yourself with this bit of wit and wisdom:
Only the mediocre are always at their best.
We made a simple craft today, a list of what Claire is thankful for. I wrote them down as dictated. Note the last item on the list. Also note that if it weren’t for my prompting, “Are you thankful for me?” I wouldn’t have made the cut. (I do feel a tinge of chagrin/shame that I manipulated myself onto the list.)
If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.
– Marcus Bridgstocke
- There are half-full, brightly-colored plastic cups on the floor in every room. Three are in the bathtub.
- There’s always that one girl, bawling her eyes out in a corner.
- It’s best not to assume that the person closest to you has any control over their digestive function.
- You sneak off to the bathroom knowing that as soon as you sit down, someone’s going to start banging on the door.
- Probably 80% of the stains on the furniture contain DNA.
- You’ve got someone in your face at 3 a.m. looking for a drink.
- There’s definitely going to be a fight.
- You’re not sure whether anything you’re doing is right, you just hope it won’t get you arrested.
- There are crumpled-up underpants everywhere.
- You wake up wondering exactly how and when the person in bed with you got there.