Have you noticed the “one word” trend for each new year? I don’t know where it came from, but the idea is to pick a particular character quality or aspiration that can be summed up in one word, then use it as your personal motto or goal for an entire year. A good friend of mine is aiming for kindness. Other words-of-the-year that I’ve heard recently are “flourish,” “rest,” “joy,” “balance,” “freedom,” etc.
I’ve never jumped on board with the one word deal. How in the world could you pick just one quality that you wanted to focus on for an entire year? To me, it just seemed gimmicky and lacked depth. Life is, after all, multi-faceted, and the lessons to be learned can’t always be boiled down to just one principle.
Of course, I’m sure the one-worders would agree with me on that. Picking one word is just a tool, not an ultimatum for life- and I’m all for whatever tools help you grow. (But still. It’s just the part of me that can’t pick up a self-help or parenting book without squirming in my seat a little.)
Despite my aversion to year-long words, the trend got me thinking about a lesson that I’ve been very slowly learning: peace.
Can I be honest? I seem to always be stumbling through life, and motherhood is no exception. Postpartum depression took me by surprise after the birth of my son, and my subsequent pregnancies were no emotional picnic either. I’m never sure if I’m doing the right thing with my kids.
The weight of parenting worry is a heavy load to bear. I still have to regularly beat down the monster that tells me I don’t deserve to mother these beautiful children.
Though my last pregnancy was desired, I came to be terrified of having our third child. I wasn’t sure whether or not I would be able to manage it. I actually had to have a good cry and tell my midwife that I changed my mind about having another kid– during my labor. (Ha.)
My pregnancy had been soured by my own fear. When I needed to practice acceptance, I was clenching my jaws in nervous anticipation. When I should have been grateful, I was consumed by anxiety and self-pity. What a waste of what should have been a happy time.
But then when I had that baby, I fell in love all over again. She was so tiny, so soft, so beautiful. I felt almost physically pained by the regret of how much I had dreaded her arrival, and wanted nothing but to hold her and treasure the moments before her infancy vanished.
Everything about her pointed me to this- that I needed to be at peace with the undertaking that is motherhood.
Yes, it’s hard. I yell too much, sleep too little, pick too many battles. It’s easy to be cranky at home. It’s far simpler to be the miserable bear I don’t want my kids to be than it is to model the peace and joy that I want for them to embrace.
It’s easy to despair, to compare myself to other mothers, to fret over all the things I’m not doing that I should be doing, to be guilty over the habits I probably shouldn’t allow to develop… But maybe I’m just getting overwhelmed by things that really shouldn’t be so concerning.
So even though I don’t usually pick just one word for a year, maybe I can at least take a hint from those who do. Perhaps being at peace- and sharing that peace with those in my family- is what I’m supposed to learn at this time in my life.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.” Isaiah 26:3
I don’t usually do things like picking one word for a year. But if I had to pick one for 2016, I’d say it would be peace. This little one’s name means peaceful, and she has been a constant reminder to me to be at peace regardless of how I’m feeling. I often struggle with so many insecurities and self doubt- particularly with how I’m raising my kids and questioning what we are doing with our lives. I’m trying to remind myself of peace that surpasses my own lurking shadows. What’s your word for the year? #peace #oneword #wordfor2016 #happynewyear
A photo posted by Abigail Zieger (@theyrenotourgoats) on
I lose my color and wither like the plants in autumn. I grow cold and bitter for a time. Numb. I wish I could hibernate, but end up staying awake and scrabbling for whatever sustenance I can scrounge up.
I know in my head that winter only lasts for a season, and that the sun will come back, and I will breathe the fresh air and welcome warm breezes and the soft, slippery earth.
But sometimes, I forget. I think that this winter will never end. I think that the wind will always sting and the ground will never thaw and I will never want to go outside again. I think that I cannot possibly trudge through another day. The snow is too deep, the path too hard, the burden too heavy.
Motherhood. Sometimes you make me weary.
I love my children. They are my lifeblood, my soul, my world. But I am not perfect.
There are times when I feel that I am not made for this life I have chosen. I am inadequate, I tell myself. I am exhausted. I battle guilt. Guilt about parenting decisions, guilt about being ungrateful, guilt about not trying harder.
I cannot weather it on my own.
But it’s March. I see my husband’s kind eyes and know that he is full of love and strength. He envelops me. I see my children- full of imagination and spirit- loving me still, despite my failings and misgivings.
The sun is coming out and the ground is softening. There is mud beneath my boots and twigs in V’s hair and dirt on J’s knees and sap running from the trees. The birds are singing their early songs. The weeds are popping up in the loose soil on the hillside- little messengers of cheer and ease.
And then I remember. Winter really doesn’t last forever. Not out in the world, and not in this heart.
We will not always cry. We will leave our miserable, stale rooms and run out in the open air instead. We will hug and talk and welcome the day with gladness. We will embrace life in all its messiness. Take courage, mama. Courage.
I will remember to cherish instead of hiding away. I will love. I will hope.
My spring is coming.