1 September

{This was yesterday's post -- my thoughts turned toward the new beginnings of September -- but I couldn't post it yesterday because my camera software was corrupted and had to be reinstalled, and I couldn't find the disk until today!}


So, it's the first of September. I can hardly believe it! August zipped by in a flurry of chaos and adjustment, and this September promises to bring many good things. I'm thinking back to a year ago, when my husband was in the midst of the worst of his illness. We didn't know what the future would bring and I tried to distract myself from the unspeakable fear. A year later, things are so much brighter. What a difference one year can make!

morning reading

I wrote a "back to (home)school" post last week that needs some editing and tweaking before I publish it, but today I want to write a little bit about rhythm, something that I know is on the minds of many during this time of year.

roly poly

grasshopper observation

Rhythm has become a bit of a buzzword around blogworld. People talk about it and think about it a lot. For some, it's kind of become synonymous with a schedule of sorts, for others, it's a way of consciously structuring the things that repeat in their weeks -- whether the things that need to be done (errands, shopping, baking), or that they want to get done (art projects, hikes, etc.).




I wanted to propose another way of thinking about rhythm.

For me, rhythm is the way a family's days "go" at a given time in their lives. It may be quiet and inward, it may be wild and boisterous. It may be oriented toward a season or holiday, it may be free-form. But, to my way of looking at it, it's not imposed or structured, but develops organically over time, and shifts happens subtly. It's like realizing that you've fallen into step with your walking companion -- serendipitous, happy, natural. Though there have been many times where I've felt it necessary to institute a schedule to our days, it never works for the long term. I believe that's because a schedule can never take into account all the various things that really make up our family's unique rhythm.



Sometimes a rhythm is necessarily dictated by things that are scheduled, like this summer when we were swimming three hours throughout the day. But most often, for us, it's the smaller things, like the way my children are playing (together, and separately) at the moment. The things we are enjoying eating, and therefore, their preparation. The creative outlets that pull at each of us. 


I could not write down a "schedule" to what our rhythm looks like. It's not a "breakfast at 8, tidy up at 8:30, stories at 9, outside at 9:45" type of thing. And yet, we do find that there are things we do every day, in roughly the same order. And it shifts over time, with the seasons, with the things we have going on. Naps happen at roughly the same time. We all need time to read and relax and be quiet, to work on projects alone or together, to care for our home. 


This fall, we are trying something a little bit different for "schooling" than we've done in the past (more on that in my upcoming "back to (home)school" post), and I want to find a way to gently work it into our days without disrupting the good rhythmic elements that are in place already. I know that we're finding our way into a new rhythm right now, anyway, as autumn approaches (100 degrees today, but in the 70's by the weekend!), as we continue to adjust to daddy's new work schedule, as preparation for Halloween begins to be a part of our creative consciousness. So, I guess I'm not too worried about how adding some schooling back into our days will be. At first, it's going to be one of those "scheduled" things that the rest of our rhythm will move and stretch itself around. And my hope is that on the best of days, it will become part of that daily rhythm, that breath of our family's life together.


I'm very much interested in reading Amanda's new book, The Rhythm of Family, which I think must touch on what I've written here, because ever since this post nearly five years ago, I've felt that her way of looking at rhythm was similar to mine. The book hasn't found its way across my threshold yet, but it will soon, I hope. :)

I've been doing this for two weeks, and I love it. It's a way to briefly jot down my impressions of the day, without giving it too much thought, without laboring over it like a blog post, or editing what I say for others to read on Facebook or Twitter. It's just a little bit of my own memories of our days. And it even sends reminder emails, so I've not missed a single day. Such a simple way of recording these days of ours, and their unique rhythmic ebb and flow.

And finally, feeling such gratitude tonight for the health of my mother-in-law, who had a medical procedure today, for my best friend's sweet new baby boy, and for my brother, who will tie the knot on Monday! (Oh, and that my children don't have any squeamishness about insects.)

{Edited to add: I do feel that intention is so very important in family life, but I also don't believe that deciding to myself "Wouldn't it be nice if our days went like this?" and then writing it down makes it our family's rhythm. If that makes sense. This is meant to share my ideas about rhythm, not to criticize those who use the term to mean more of a schedule! In some ways, it's just semantics. Whatever you call these things, we all have both natural patterns to our days, and things that we need to schedule.}