I am not a religious person, but I love the Prayer of Serenity.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Serenity is such an incredibly underrated value or virtue if you stop to think about it. We are so busy valourising the very opposite of serenity. We love to look up to the “Oh-My-God-I-have-So-Much-To-Do-And-So-Little-Time” people. Those who probably knit sweaters while taking a dump. And cook and do yoga simultaenously. Multitasking is so overrated and I don’t know anyone who does it who is not trying to cover up a greater chaos or disorganisation within. I speak as an ex-multitasker who took great pride her skills. So multitaskers, speak now or forever hold your peace:-)
It was a perfect weekend. For once, my ever-growing to-do list did not dictate our day. We just let things be. We stepped over clothes on the floor. We pushed away dirty dishes to make room for more. We read Armaans favourite books till he got fidgety. We sat with Arvind while he was making lego and offering a running narrative of his efforts.
And then my son promptly broke my heart. ” Don’t you have something to do?” he asks wide-eyed.
I realise that this is who I am becoming. Someone who is always on the way to something. Someone who always has “things to do”. Moving on quickly after a hug or a kiss and not lingering. So much so that my son finds it unusual that I would take a half an hour out of my day to “just be” with him, enjoying him and enjoying his play.
This is when I am grateful that life with kids is so open-ended; they possess such an amazing capacity to forgive you your trespasses as long as they can see you are willing to get your ass in gear. But do I have the courage to change the things I can?
Here is my new resolve. I will stop saying, “in a minute” (and taking ten), if I can offer them my time and presence then and there. Unless the house is on fire. Or someone might lose their life. If I can offer colleagues at work my polite and undivided attention, I see no reason to offer my family any less.
I am prioritising hanging out. Just being with them without questioning, criticising or guiding. Listening and giving the impression of availability. That might sound wrong, but it really isn’t. My own mother was wonderful at it. She sort of hung about doing her thing while we did ours. We knew she would be available if we wanted her to be and that she would be actively available. But it was enough that she was there and not rushing about. Do you remember that lovely feeling, as a child, of your presence being registered, without a parent necessarily falling all over you and directing you?
That is what I want for my little dudes. That and a giant cup of serenity to go.