Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to Be Content. From, Shiloh.

In our house, we previously saw the word "Contentment" and thought, "Yeah. We know contentment. As soon as I check off the 19 things on my to-do list and then bake my own bread and then start two companies and then listen to this flower."

Then Shiloh came and the word (and life) was re-evaluated.

Often, Canaan and Tim and I are busy with activities such as: dressing Barbies, writing a blog, logging in 300 miles in the Nike app, perfecting our cloud bursting technique, etc.

Then we look over at Shiloh to see: smiling.

And we think, "Smile more. Stress less."

We also implement the old date-on-a-budget-trick where we celebrate our ninth anniversary by buying nine sentimental things for under $5, such as the ever priceless nail file cause "you sharpen me." I suppose I could have hand-crafted a monogrammed chair cushion for Tim's office, but I remember to be busy less.

Well played, Shiloh. Well played indeed.

While the Goodwin's still enjoy the occasional Warrior Dash through mud, fire, and ninja obstacles, and even though it's hard to "tone down" the excitability factor that rears it's head every 30-40 minutes in our house, Shiloh just looks at us and waves us on.

She reminds us to be content with broken sunglasses, out dated bathing suits, and crappy shoes. So does this enormous pile of crappy shoes.

Although Tim actually was first in his wave of runners until the 20 minute hold up trying to get through the "Web of Despair", he's content with a medal and a drink and his cutie cheerleader.

Whether there's mud in my ear, or cereal smooshed in the bottom of the car, or crayon on the wall, or a poop stain on Tim's good shirt, we're learning to be content in all situations.

Canaan tends to resist this lesson--"I don't WANT TO (slow down and) WALK ON THE BALANCE BEAM!" as she's running across the balance beam, swinging off the rope and landing into the foam pit.

But that kind of energy and drive is going to win her an Olympic Gold. Just kidding. Not really. Either an Olympic Gold or security level clearance at NASA.

We're content with a Participation Ribbon!

But she does have nice form.

Summer days are good for learning to be content. A sprinkler instead of the Bridge Mill White Water Park? No prob.

Shiloh's happy, every one's happy.

Or Shiloh has to do some business, which is often the case when she pauses from all the smiling and waving and laughing to "focus."

We often tease Shiloh (if teasing an 11 month old is okay?) that she's a prime candidate for Prom Queen or President of Sigma Alpha Pi or even Vice-President of the 2041 race. With all her waving and smiling, she's on her way.

She has taught Canaan the fine art of "Fake Smile" in the case of situations such as: Swim Lessons With Ms. Autumn Who Makes Me Go Under Water Even Though I'm Screaming No.

Of course Shiloh's content. Who wouldn't be when Swim Lessons consists of two inches of water, a nice tan, and a "pool side" drink?

Note: no toys floating around Shiloh. Any toy in the vicinity has already been called for. (By Canaan, who is constantly coming up with "Great Ideas.") Thus, Shiloh has learned to be content in literally, every situation: "No toys? Not a big deal. I love plain water. And my hands, of course. Love those guys!"

We can always count on Canaan to come up with a fantastic scenario involved three ratty-haired Barbies, half a plastic egg, two feet of string, and an empty Vanilla Flavoring bottle.

Shiloh's mostly Canaan's personal assistant in these matters. Or the Family Cheerleader. Or just cute.

Cooking is the perfect moment to teach the lesson of contentment to a vivacious three year old.

1. Be patient--tasting the all-purpose flour isn't half as good as tasting the actual baked cookie.

2. Be thankful--at least you got to eat the batter off of the spoon, one blender thing, and the bowl. Many children in Cambodia don't even get this opportunity. Shiloh didn't really get this opportunity, come to think of it. She was content playing with the whisk.

3. Be happy--if your Dad saw your face, he'd freak out.

Thus, lessons of contentment learned in the kitchen.

As a parent, we learn to be content with the kids God gives us: one insanely fun 3 year old and one incredibly happy 1 year old.

I've given up the Friday Night Lights Cheering For Our Strapping Young Football Sons dream. Not to say it might happen in the future.

But for now, I'm very content.

Contentment became really real to me when Shiloh wasn't crawling as soon as ______ or pulling up as soon as ______ or walking as soon as ______. But I soon learned that Shiloh is ultra-content just laying there or sitting there or scooting there. No toys? No developmentally appropriate device to pull up on? No physical therapy to encourage walking? Shiloh scoffs at that. She's happy with her toes. And an old piece of cereal if one's nearby.

We've documented the meaning of contentment in our house. Shiloh: "Didn't finish my cup of tea? Not even on the radar. Look! A teapot!!" Canaan: "My Rapunzel dress is falling off my skinny little body? First I stop and breathe and think, then I realize I have to quick run and put on my high heels." Mama: "Haven't vacuumed the house in a week and I've got plants to water? Enjoying tea with my little girls is way better."

"I've kept my feet on the ground, I've cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother's arms, my soul is also content." -Psalm 131:2