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This year it was just me with the little ones at home for New Years Eve. Jeff took the older kids on a special Christmas gift ski trip out to the mountains. We all had so much fun.
Back here, I picked up a Dairy Queen ice cream cake (because it was my last day of sugar for me, and that was my choice for my “last supper” of sugar, and the kids coincidentally asked for one) and we all were in bed by nine. That’s my ideal New Year’s Eve. I had my calendar all filled out and I reflected on the past and the future (mostly the future) and the kids played with their new toys and it was OH SO EASY. I remember thinking how exhausting and busy it was having three back in the day! Oh, three is easy, it’s a walk in the park, it’s a piece of cake. Give me eight or ten, and I’ll be saying the same thing about having six, isn’t that funny how that works? And little ones vs. teens? The saying “little feet, little problems, big feet, big problems”, it’s so true. It was just a nice reminder for me-not a reminder of “oh how awesome it is with just three kids and no teenagers” but a reminder, that when all six are here I am doing BIG work and I need to give myself credit for that. And also, that nothing tastes as good as a last supper of Dairy Queen cake.
It’s funny how my resolutions have changed over the years also. I have no new unreachable demands for myself. I need to eat healthier, more fruits and vegetables and water, and less (which means no) sugar, which I would like to survive on, but it makes me more tired and crabby and is just no good. I once again have to go cold turkey for awhile till I can eat small treats in moderation and not crave bags of Hershey Kisses morning, new and night. I also need to do some sit-ups, no, I really need to do some sit-ups!
And on bigger things:
I was reading through a little journal entry I had written awhile ago. I want to preface with this, please take note: I didn’t write this because this is the who I am, I wrote it because this is who I want to be. I tend to take things seriously, I have a tendency, as I look back at twenty years of raising kids, to worry, to take things way too seriously, to project in the future. I think it’s a balance, that comes with age-the balance of helping shape them into the best versions of themselves, but also just stop shaping and enjoy them as they are at the moment. They need us to do both! I need to do both.
Here are those observations I made a few years ago, these are just scribbled notes, casually written:
(you doesn’t mean you the reader, it means me the writer, writing to myself)
1. Pretty much anything you read, or do, isn’t going to make more difference in how your kids “turn out”, than you having an optimistic, joyous outlook on life and spreading that joy and optimism to them. Also-showing love in many ways every day. Making sure you spend time with them and use mostly positive words-making them feel loved.
2. FAMILY-it’s all about what you do here in this house. That will be the difference in the world-“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean” (Goethe). There are service lessons, all kinds of lessons, right here. No amount of work anywhere else is going to make the difference as what happens in your own home.
3. Love your “job”. Find ways to love it more-even the stuff you don’t like. Find a way to cook that is easy and serves your family and YOU well and makes it less of a chore. Find a laundry system that works for everyone, so you don’t grow resentful. Find joy in caring for your home and family, using the talents God has given you. Manage well, have systems that work so you can enjoy your work, and your days.
4. Worry-it’s such a waste. Explore the worry-it’s based on fear. Worry sucks joy, it’s heavy to carry, it clouds thinking. Meet it head on. If that means a conversation you need to have with a teen, or a spouse or anyone, have it. It usually also means time needs to be spent in prayer. Prayer relieves worry, centers you and builds strength.
5. It’s not complicated to know what the “right” thing is. There is so much talk, argument, debate, fear-mongering in this culture. The truth is the deepest, purest core of nature-what is right. The culture is crazy right now. It’s backwards.
6. Which means your need to be on the hunt for job, for that pure truth, and give it the attention it is due. Concentrate on the joy, concentrate on the good. You can switch everything around to find the good when showing the kids that it exists-using compassion and love and hope-remember the truth is obvious this way. Dwell on the good, find it, point it out. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
7. Be careful of where and how you spend your time. If you surround yourself with negativity, you will feel negative. If you surround yourself with positivity, you will find joy.
8. Enjoyment-find the things you enjoy doing and do them. Life goes so fast-the little things that might drive you crazy now with a busy family life-one day you will look back with the fondest of memories and laugh. Remember that!
After I read what I had written, I was thinking, what if some physician told me I had one year to live? Not to live sickly, but just to live. One year. Period. How would I truly wish to spend the next 365 days? Stressed? No. Worrying? No. Going on cruises, traveling the world, seeing this and that, experiencing everything? No. Not for me.
I would spend more time praying and going to Church and reading the Bible.
I would take care of myself so I would feel good every day-I wouldn’t waste time with tasteless garbage food-I’d eat apples off the trees and strawberries off the fields like I did growing up-I would eat real food. I would get enough sleep so I could spend every day full of energy. I would go outside every day and listen to the birds in the morning in spring, and the crickets and cicadas at night in the summer and take long walks on the crunchy leaves in fall and watch the sunsets in the winter down by the river.
I wouldn’t waste time on the negative-stupid politics, stupid gossip, stupid complaining, the internet and almost all media in general. The news, blah! I wouldn’t want one bit of it. It’s not reality, it’s not the present, it’s not what life is made of, it’s what drains life’s energy, drains the soul.
I would spend more time with my parents, because they are truly the most admirable people, and hold a wealth of knowledge about life that I need and want to know.
I would want to spend every day with my husband and children. Staring into their faces and soaking them up and truly truly just enjoying my life here at home.
Having as many of those little moments, when I stopped living logistically, and just talked with my teenage daughter about life, listened to my older boys funny stories, or thoughts about this or that, listening listening listening, and played ball or games, or in the snow, or outside with my little boys, and kissed the face off the “baby”.
What is stopping me from doing this NOW? Nothing. NOTHING. There is no excuse! I have a husband who works hard to provide for our family, my days, my hours, my minutes, are mine, I am doing what I love, there is NO job on earth I would ever love as much as the job as mother, so…
…what gets in the way of how I’d really like to live my life?
It reminds me of this Bible verse, I am NO expert in the Bible, or Catholicism, or Christianity, or anything (well, maybe babies) but this verse just strikes a chord with me:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The lamp of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be healthy, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.
If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and money.”
Do I take the time to center myself every day and remind myself of all that is joyful? Do I let myself fall into negativity too often? Do I take care of my body, where my soul is housed, so I feel good, mentally, physically and emotionally, every day and can therefore enjoy my days? Do I get distracted by “earthly treasures”-what are my preoccupations that take me away from being present every day?
This is what I want to strive for more than ever this year-the habit of making sure my heart is where my treasure is.