Well, we’re almost an entire week into the new year and it still hasn’t lost that “new year” feeling of reflection and self-evaluation for me. I wrote a few days ago about all the things I want to accomplish this year and received a beautiful comment from one of my dear readers who has been down this road of young motherhood before. Here’s what she wrote:
“I could have written the same list when I was a mother of three little children. My guess is that you won’t achieve all of them this year.
The good news is that I have finally accomplished some of them, and I just needed to retire to be able to say that. Many of the things you wish to do and be are limited by one thing: TIME. Juggling three babies is more than a full time job. When you add work, home, church, spouse, and all the other things that eat up our time, little time is left for art, literature, writing, baking, and 5Ks.
Now that I no longer have to drag my sorry self out of bed at 6:00 am and be gone for nine hours, I find that I pretty much have time to do whatever I want. I sew a lot, cook delicious and healthy meals, and our house is cleaner than it ever was before. Our lives are very satisfying. We are near to Cameron and her wonderful family, and are able to help them out in numerous ways.
Once, when our three were young, an older friend visited me when I had been home bound with sick children for an endless period. They had all had chicken pox, not at the same time but one after the other after the other. My friend told me something that took me years to realize the truth: “Mimi, one day you will know that these are the best days of your life.” In retrospect, those were wonderful times. And I worried too much about things that didn’t really matter to fully enjoy the richness of my life.
I’m not sure what the point of this rambling is, except that some day, when you finally have time and peace to do and be what you want, you won’t have three precious little people in your care. So don’t give up trying to reach those goals, but don’t kick yourself if you do not. And remember that these are the best days of your life.”
Oh, yes, yes, yes. This encapsulates everything I feel about a new year. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement and the planning of a fresh start for 2014. Many of us get wrapped up in change, caught up in an attempt to “fix” everything we’re screwing up and begin January like a chicken with it’s head lobbed, off rushing around trying to become the “perfect” person we want to be but not really getting anywhere.
Change is good. Wanting to be a better version of ourselves is good. Planning good things and renewing good habits for the future are good. But, as my friend Lauren says, New Year’s Day is really just another cold, snowy day like the one before it. The entire year should be focused on refocusing, so to speak. There’s a very fine line we tread between self-improvement and self-loathing. It’s easy to get wound up about all the things we’ll do in the new year as a way to make up for the things we lack, the things we didn’t do, the flaws we see in ourselves.
But these are the best years of our lives.
I just started reading The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander, a study on Mary. Houselander makes the point that our human nature (soul and body) is material which God uses to assert His purpose in us; that we are individually shaped and created not only by the things we’ve experienced, but also the lives and experiences of each of our individual ancestors. We were planned from the very beginning and God used thousands of people over hundreds of years to specifically create us.
And this stood out to me this morning as I contemplated the new year, the plans I’ve made, and the wisdom Mimi shared:
“Each one can…look honestly at the material from which he is made, and ask the Holy Spirit to let It show him the way Christ wills to show Himself in his life….There is, however, one big thing we can do with God’s help, that is, we can trust God’s plan, we can put aside any quibbling or bitterness about ourselves and what we are. We can accept and seize upon the fact that what we are at this moment, young or old, strong or weak, mild or passionate, beautiful or ugly, clever or stupid, is planned to be like that. Whatever we are gives form to the emptiness in us which can only be filled by God and which God is even now waiting to fill.”
So this year, like every year, I hope for balance. I hope that I can learn self-improvement and self-love. I hope I’ll have the courage to pursue all the dreams I have for my future and the joy that can only come from loving what I’ve been given, just as it’s been given to me.
Don’t give up trying to reach those goals, but don’t kick yourself if you do not. And remember that these are the best days of your life.
Have a great week, y’all!