The summer solstice last Thursday was indeed The Longest Day of the Year for me and my 15 month old daughter, Dinah. We had returned on Tuesday afternoon from a long, loud, fun, and busy several days with my family in Wisconsin. Our normal routine was turned on it’s head. When we slept, what we ate, down-time, play time…it was all up for grabs. We played way too much. Did nothing way too little. While we were doing it, it seemed AWESOME. Dinah laughed and ran with her cousins and I got a chance to relax a little with my family while everyone took care of Dinah.
Then we came home. Dinah and I both slept horribly on Wednesday night. I listened to her cry and she seemed to know that and just kept yelling for me to come in and hold her. We woke up on Thursday morning, the Summer Solstice, totally spent – heading into the longest day, ever.
So, on the Solstice we had to find our way back to our routine by walking straight into the woods of tantrum land, for both me and Dinah. Meltdowns and cries of exhaustion surprised us around every corner. Each tantrum seemed to build on the one before, making them stronger each time. It was a difficult, miserable, no good, very bad day.
By late afternoon I was desperate for a break. My husband (finally!) came home and I flew out the door for a restorative yoga class and thanked God for an end to this Longest Day of the Year, assuming that Dinah would be long asleep by the time I got home. I could hear her crying from outside the apartment.
I immediately put her in the stroller and went for a walk in the cool night air. We watched a perfect sunset and saw fireflies appear. Dinah babbled a happy little conversation to herself, or maybe she was saying goodnight to the sun and hello to the moon. It was a surprisingly magical walk. I was full up and leaking out (of my eyes) with gratitude for the end of the longest day of the year, indeed.
Now that the days are getting shorter and we are back on our schedule, life is much better.
And this is what I have learned about keeping a schedule or routine of eating, sleeping, playing, and doing nothing:
Respect the strength & wisdom of a schedule, a rule, a discipline, a routine. Whatever you call it that helps create boundaries and keeps you from staying at Chucky Cheese for 8 hours, or lying on the couch through 3 movies, or staying at work way too long. A routine provides boundaries that protect and nourish. A rule makes for easy limits when faced with temptations for more or less. A routine makes decisions for you so you don’t have to deliberate over so many options; especially ones that either make you feel strong & healthy or like crap.
And beyond all that, it seems like the following quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson would be an appropriate prayer at the end of each day. Maybe even cross-stitched on our pillows so that we might really get it, at least by osmosis.
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
Amen. Amen. Amen.