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
It’s the early hours of the morning on the day after Christmas. My son and I have been admiring his stack of new books and tinkering with little treasures while the tree twinkles away in the corner. He colors in his new art journal while I take a few minutes to type.
We’ve been going, going, going far too much this semester- at least far too much for a family with three young kids. We’ve had barely an evening a week with all of us home at the same time with no place to go. I know of many families who do this regularly and seem to handle it well, but to me, it’s more stress than it’s worth.
This Christmas was such a welcome contrast to all that running around. Granted, it was still busy- we didn’t have much time to prepare “real” presents for anyone, much less to make the Christmas music we generally prepare and play. But for some reason, it didn’t really matter. I resigned myself to low-key gifts for our families, and decided that if we didn’t have time for all our regular traditions it would still be just fine.
(J enjoying a viewfinder.)
We came to a screeching halt from all of our bustling yesterday. It’s hard to slow down suddenly after feeling so rushed and scattered, but it was much needed. Christmas day ended up being one of the calmest days we’ve had in a long time.
The best part was the morning. The kids didn’t get up until after 7 a.m., and they were content to sit and eat breakfast in the kitchen for a while. We lit a snowman-shaped candle and hummed carols along to my husband’s ukulele plucking, then moved into the playroom to stick characters on our advent wall hanging and read the Christmas story together. The children played together without fighting. (A Christmas miracle!) We finally had to suggest that we open our presents before visiting with grandparents.
(V modeling her “new” dress-up clothes.)
Such harmony is a rarity around here- the kids must have known subconsciously that staying settled for more than 10 minutes was a great Christmas gift! While none of us were perfect and the day wasn’t without its cranky moments, it did carry that sense of rest that I’ve been longing for.
There’s a beauty of finding calm amidst chaos- it’s not something I typically do very well. In fact, I’m easily frustrated, cranky, and not always nice when I’m facing a stressful situation. But apparently it’s a lesson I’m supposed to keep learning. For example, in the middle of writing this post, I got annoyed and had to take a break because one of my children-who shall not be named-wouldn’t stop jabbering and let me think clearly.
Oh yes, peace and rest, peace and rest.
(Baby I keeps us smiling.)
It’s something I have to keep reminding myself of. Peace isn’t found merely by avoiding problems. In fact, that quietness of heart and mind is quite a separate thing from our circumstances.
After hearing so much of Handel’s Messiah this week, I can’t help thinking of the text from which “His yoke is easy” is taken:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mt. 11: 28-30)