Thursday, February 23, 2012


This is the fourth time I've started to write this post.  Every time I sat down to write, there was a flood of thoughts, but too many to be coherent and shareable.  I've been thinking about nourishing, both in the context of food (of course) and spiritually, as a counterpart to flourishing.

Certainly, if my desire to flourish means that I want to grow and develop, to have some kind of back-and-forth relationship with the world around me in which I take knowledge and experiences and create something of worth with them to give the world, certainly that desire would extend to those I love most.  For my children, my husband, I'm constantly on the lookout for ways that they can flourish, ways that I can make space for their growth, provide the building blocks, impart ideas.

To take a self-help phrase, I want to change the idea of a circle of influence into a circle of flourishing.  I like to talk about birth and birth stories, because they are the real beginning of nurturing; as a mother, I am so essential, the person of absolutely central importance in providing the food, love, and care, the physical and spiritual components that each child needs. And yet, they come with eternal spirits already in them and divine destinies, and they take those raw inputs that I provide and make themselves out of them, even from the womb. It's both frustrating and fascinating, as I realize that each child was self-determined from the moment they were conceived, that unless something serious gets in their way, they have their own momentum and trajectory. In fact, not only that, but they come with a creative purpose to fulfill, a need to flourish.

And it's my job to provide that space so they can meet that need.

I know families that fall on both ends of the organizational spectrum, with ballet and karate and soccer constantly on the calendar, or days filled with unschooling and taking apart whatever household furniture or appliances interest them and rebuilding them into crazy robots and forts. I'm in the middle, but I do prize consistency and quantifiable progression for myself, and so that probably characterizes our household most. We hold regular Family Home Evenings, and I have one regular day a week that I go to the library, one that I do laundry, one that we work on cleaning and chores, one set aside for a family movie night or games, errands, etc. You get the idea. Some of these things appear to only affect me, but the more organized I can be, the better I can be prepared to serve and interact with my kids. I try to remember to be flexible too, but that's a more conscious effort for me. I'm especially lucky that my husband's approach to flourishing -- and nourishing -- balances mine out so well, he's much more likely to want to take risks, try new things, and explore.

So, the main activities in our house revolve around a few core focuses: religion, music, nature, work, and books. These are the areas I feel are most essential for us in a long-term, line-upon-line kind of way. I probably will have to break out and post about each of them at some point, but they form a real central identity for each of us to come to and draw from in our own development and pursuits. We don't hit them all every day, but they make regular appearances in our lives, and because of that, we tend to be better at noticing opportunities that relate to those core focuses. They make nice little clusters of experience as we overlap them and as our individual personalities interact. Family scripture study, piano practice, father/son trombone duets, hiking and camping, weeding and growing a garden, reading poetry to our kids as they fall asleep -- these are all wonderful thing I'm grateful we've made time for. And, of course, good food!! We have one or two sit-down meals as a family every day, which holds it all together.

One particular influence behind this post has been the book Daughters in My Kingdom, which I recently finished reading. I know I'll go back to it again and again because of its inspiring stories of women nurturing and nourishing both individually and in communities. I'd like to end with a quote: 

Nurture is a rich word. It means to train, to teach, to educate, to foster development, to promote growth, and to nourish or feed...Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work.” I can't flourish myself and fulfill my own divine mission without also doing these things, and doing them well.

1 comment:

  1. Kristin--I need to learn from your thoughtful approach to parenting! I have to confess I'm not quite there, although we do try to have something resembling a general plan. I like the idea of physical as well as spiritual nourishing.