Last night, my 11-year-old niece told me about a birthday party she had gone to. Their morning activities included waking up to a morning smoothie bar and a hired yoga instructor. Am I the only one who happens to thinks this is INSANE?! What happened to the birthday parties where you play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, eat some cake and call it a day? Our American culture has become obsessed with productivity, efficiency, and one-upping last year’s Pinterest birthday party. The dog days of summer have been replaced with a steady stream of camps, organized play groups, and a landslide of sporting events. Stress related illnesses have reached an all time high. What is happening to us?!
Now with five children, I could never convincingly claim that my life is anything but frantic, chaotic and constant. But I can genuinely assert that as a direct rebellion against the busyness, I have intentionally reclaimed the lost art of sitting. I have created a space for this sitting right by the fireplace with my favorite chair that will soon have an indelible imprint of my backside. I have a small garden stool for a table used exclusively for my coffee. And my kids know that when I am sitting there, I am very unlikely to jump up and do much of anything for them. They are, in fact accustomed to me calling out for the nearest child to “give me 20!” (which in layman’s terms means a coffee reheat). This time for me always involves a little reading, a little contemplating, and a lot of just staring out the window. It is my balking recoil against time, chaos and the never ending to-do list.
From an architectural standpoint, it is interesting to observe how even our homes exhibit our cultural priorities. Backyard patios, as opposed to front porches, tend to be the focus of most outdoor living spaces. Porches represent the concept of sitting, doing little to nothing, just being. Whereas, patios tend to emphasize entertaining, playing, and doing. Interesting enough, these are the top five results that pop up when the word “sitting,” is googled: “Too much sitting linked to heart disease, diabetes and premature death…Sitting is bad for your health…Sitting will kill you, even if you exercise…Is sitting a lethal activity…Sit less, live longer.” Even alleged inspirational quotes about sitting carry a negative connotation. References are made to bench warmers, laziness, loneliness and passivity. Sitting has gotten a bad rap.
Even so, I choose to sit. I choose to sit and slow down time. I choose to be unproductive for 5 minutes, an hour, a day so that I might be happy and rested and mentally clear. I choose to not be constantly efficient so that I might have energy for my kids and husband. And I choose the pin-the-tail-on the donkey birthday parties so that my children will not constantly expect bigger and better for the remainder of their lives.