December 29, 2016

things I learned in 2016...

imageThe space between Christmas and the New Year is a favorite of mine. I know some people struggle though the post-holiday fog and don't particularly enjoy this time of year, but as for me? It's my favorite. The possibility of the year ahead...the contemplation of the year behind me. I just love it.

I tend to be the person who wants to decorate for Christmas immediately after finishing my turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, just so I can savor the season as long as possible. (And as much as people complain about Christmas decorations coming out earlier and earlier every year, it seems like I hear even more people wondering how it all came and went so quickly after all is said and done.) Because I try to make the entire month of December festive and Christmassy, it means that I'm usually more than happy to un-decorate and get things back to their usual state very soon after the 25th. Because one of my children has been struggling with some sort of delightful tummy bug recently, we've been landlocked (or apartment-locked) for a large portion of the past week. Which means I've been scrambling for projects to complete as my eldest is cozy and nauseous on the couch, watching more episodes of Wild Kratts than would be recommended by her pediatrician.

(Let the record show: I have no regrets.)

As both girls are magically napping this afternoon, the idea of this post floated into my headspace and I felt I should sit down to actually write something before the inspiration has left (or children wake from their slumber).

This past year has been a good one. One with little sleep (thanks to my youngest) and little chasing of my own dreams and ambitions (aside from the everyday mothering and wife-ing and keeping the apartment in one piece). However, I can't really complain. As difficult and overwhelming and repetitive as life can be during this season of life, I'm completely and utterly grateful for it.

As I look back on the past year, a few things stand out.

I feel like I'm finally comfortable in my own skin. Throughout the past decade, I've written here and there about my struggles with perfectionism and body image. It has been a long (long, long) process, but I can honestly say that it is every bit worth any effort I had to make in order to completely change my way of thinking. I'm now only left with regret over how many years of of my twenties were wasted, thinking I had to reach a goal weight, thinking I was always a work-in-progress, thinking I was defined by my physical appearance, thinking imperfections were something I had to apologize for. I no longer care what the scale says. (Coincidentally, I no longer use the scale.) And although it's been odd to see the first real signs of aging, now that I'm a couple years into my thirties, I don't hate it. I definitely find it bizarre to see gray hair and permanent wrinkles etched into the shape of my face, but aging is not something I fear. The shape of my body is not something I resent. This past year has only solidified these feelings, an there's no other word to describe it than freedom. I feel free.

Learning at home does not need to look the same as learning in a classroom. I think that many homeschoolers struggle with this one when they're starting out. Even I have, despite being homeschooled myself for so many years. But the past year of teaching Eisley at home has served to show me that during these young years there is no need to sit at a desk (or kitchen table) for a large portion of the day, learning only from workbooks and projects and perfectly curated lesson plans. I've learned (and continue to learn) how my daughter learns best, and I'm able to essentially create a tailor-made school environment for her. It's kind of an amazing thing. At this point, I have a much clearer idea of how we will go into her first grade year, and I'm incredibly excited for all we have yet to learn together.

These early years of motherhood are not wasted years. This sounds like an obvious one, but there is an overwhelming number of voices I hear constantly, and they are all saying how every woman needs to be actively chasing after her own ambitions during every season of life. If not? Poor her. A talent unused is a talent wasted, after all. You make time for the things you love, after all. It's all about the hustle, it's about continuous growth, it's about productivity and dreaming big. And in the right situation, for some women, those are rather marvelous things. But those sort of words and phrases do nothing to encourage me. They only heap guilt, stress, and worry upon my already exhausted shoulders. The best things I've read this year are from women saying, "Hey, guess what? You want to know the honest truth? Here it is: Nobody can do it all. Nobody can have it all. No woman out there has the perfect balance, the perfect schedule, or is living her perfect life. Ok? Now go get some sleep, because sometimes that's the most important thing in the entire world." This past year, I've struggled with watching other women achieve dreams that are so similar to those I've had for myself. Those I am simply not able to pour myself into enough to make them happen. I've struggled, but then I've given myself this pep talk over and over: "You are doing great things. Really. Even if nobody can see them. You are doing great things." And in my heart of hearts, I know this is true. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Disconnecting from the internet is sometimes the best thing in the world. I miss writing, but I don't feel the same way about the internet or social media as I did in my early twenties. I used to live and breathe Twitter, I used to read a huge number of blogs, I relished in the community and constancy of it all. But I find that mostly it exhausts me these days. So much of it feels like extra noise I simply can't handle with everything else going on, and in between all the really good stuff is so much unnecessary stuff. This month, I decided to stop social media all together, with the exception of one that I don't keep open to anyone and everyone. But as for this blog...I can't say goodbye. To be honest, I worry sometimes about having lost my "voice" because I so rarely have time to write. But this past year has made me want to revisit the storytelling aspect of blogging. I want to rediscover that.

Simplicity is my love language. When it comes down to it, I just want less. I want to own less stuff and buy less stuff, for my kids to grow up without feeling entitled to a room full of their own stuff. I want to be content with the things I already have, and for my wish-lists to be much shorter. I want less excess, less guilt, less busyness for the sake of being busy. I crave simplicity and a quiet, calm life. Every time I commit myself to do something toward this goal, it is like a weight is lifted, and it only makes me want to do more to simplify my life.

There are so many other things I could share, but—as is always the case—my time is limited, and if I don't post this now, it'll end up gathering dust with all the other drafts I've started and never finished.

So, until next time, my friends.

4 comments :

  1. Oh Kerri, this is so much what I've been struggling with as a momma of a little guy. It's so hard to not feel like I'm failing in some area. This year is the first year I've not published anything and I've been struggling and feeling like I'm falling behind. Thank you for the reminder that my focus on my kid and my job are enough right now. There's always more time. <3 I wish you and your family a peaceful, happy, healthy new year!

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  2. This was fun to read! And good for you for pushing "publish" and not "save as draft"! I've been doing this a bit more myself recently; realizing most people feel the same way as you do about blogs and that very few people will read my posts. But I read them. and when I scroll back through my blog I'm always so grateful for the posts that I have written and shared. I literally just a posted a "Year in Review" blog post like everyone used to do back in 2009 because hey, we had an awesome year and I felt like it! So silly and no one will want to read it, really. But me. I will. Anyway, just wanted to say I resonated with what you've written!

    Also, thanks for your list of books to read! I've been really struggling trying to find a solid source of good books and I really appreciated your reviews and I'm going to check out a couple that you mentioned!

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  3. I love that you still write and publish here. I hope you won't stop... although I understand that stepping back sometimes (or in certain areas) can be a good thing :) Happy new year, Kerri.

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