It is seventeen days into January, and while I have had many resolutions for the New Year rumbling around in my head, I haven’t really begun any of them. I caught a bad cold just after Christmas that I STILL haven’t completely kicked, and topped that off with the stomach flu on New Year’s Eve (a stomach flu with strange symptoms that took me to urgent care with the entire family, on the way getting a flat tire just before I threw up. That was a very long night). But even though I’ve let myself off the hook with most everything for the last few weeks, I’ve still been thinking about what I want to learn this year, how I want this one and only year with a four year old, a two year old, and a little baby to look. I think about that a lot – this is the ONE YEAR that I will have three little children these ages. Maybe more children will come and I will have similar ages again, but that time will come with other responsibilities, other demands on my time, as I will be parenting and teaching older children too. Seeing how quickly my children grow and change makes me all the more determined to not let it slip away without being present and attentive.
Which brings me to my first resolution, which may just be my “word” for 2014. Or for my whole life. Presence. Paying attention. Slowing down. To be honest, our life is pretty slow. We can go an entire week without leaving the house except for church (one mile down the road) and grocery shopping (two blocks away). My husband works from home. We have slow mornings and peaceful evenings and three meals a day together. I know this is a great blessing of this time of life, and while choosing home business and homeschooling helps to preserve it, life cannot always be quite this quiet.
But being physically present with my family all day does not mean that I am mindfully present. I distract myself online, checking my phone, filling my mind other people’s lives and other people’s craft and other people’s ideas. So much of it is inspiring and there are people online that I truly believe have made me better at my vocation of a wife, mother, and homemaker. But there is just so much. So I resolve to limit it severely. Every year I look at my online distractions and cull it, cutting out everything that does not serve to inspire me to be better at what I do, or that simply takes too much time to keep up with. First to go is Facebook. Last year I dropped it for seven months. I went back on to share all the joy (and photos!) of a new baby, but it has encroached back into my life and it’s time to get rid of it again. Who knows for how long this time. I do love instagram, but my “following” list gets bigger and bigger until it takes an awful lot of time to scroll through it. So many beautiful lives out there, mothers finding beauty and joy in their chosen vocations. But I can’t watch all of them. So I cut that down by about half. I did the same process with my blog reader. I’ve started checking my phone once in the morning and then leaving it in a drawer for the rest of the day. Phew. It all feels so much better. This space here is the only space I want to spent more time on, which is easier when the other distractions lessen.
We are in the final stages of buying a house, God willing. With the house will come SO MUCH to do. It is nearly three times the size of our current rental (which is twice the size of the house we had our first two children in), and is kind of a blank slate. We will move house, have lots of things to acquire (like half a house worth of furniture, much of will require refinishing, I’m sure), have three times as much space to clean, 1/3 of an acre of yard to take care of, and many, many redecorating and renovating projects that we have in mind. It is a huge blessing to buy our first house, a house that will fit our family for a very long time, but it is a rather overwhelming blessing! I know that this makes my resolution all the more hard to keep and all the more important. My children will not stop growing and changing, and needing me to be present, because I have a new house and lots of projects to do. I need to be present through it all, and remember to move slowly and mindfully through the full days of this year. The trim can be painted any time. My baby is only a baby once.
That was a lot of writing on one resolution. The others are related.
Second: Reclaiming mornings. I’ve already written about that here, but the long weeks of sickness and sleeplessness have derailed those plans. Back to reclaiming mornings in order to keep my days both productive and mindful.
Third: Read real books. I’ve been reading blog articles to pass the time for so long, I’ve forgotten how to read with sustained attention. So many things I want to read, and really, I do have the time to read them, with all the time I spent nursing or sitting on the couch with a sleeping baby. So less online reading, less online watching, and more real reading.
Fourth: Make more stuff, and learn more skills to do it. My knitting has stalled since having Sophia. That’s ok – I remind myself every day that I will have many years to knit and very few years of holding a sleeping baby. But making things makes me happy on many levels, so when I do have the time, I have plans to not only knit more, but learn enough sewing skills to make my girls dresses and bonnets this summer (and lots of curtains and pillows!), do some needlework, and, somewhat related, give myself a decent photography education, since I got a fancy new camera for my anniversary and have so much beauty in my life to document.
I have lots of other goals that are related to these, but they are more ongoing and I can write about them some other time. Continually work on our daily rhythm, which will lead to working more on our collective discipline; write more here to reflect on and document our daily life; add to our preschool time; say yes more often; lots more seasonal craft projects; sing more with my children throughout the day; and of course there are spiritual goals that are closer to my heart. Life is so full. I want to slow down and pay attention to it all.
Photos unrelated, except for the fact that impromptu walks around the neighborhood (and meeting new neighbors in the process) only happens when I am present and willing to say yes).