January is supposed to be a time for goal-setting and resolution. I also thought it was supposed to be the calm after the storm. The storm, albeit a happy and festive storm, culminates with Christmas, surges on into New Year a little bit, and then things should die down, right? I love to have fun. I also love to accomplish things. I always look forward to celebration, but I also crave the January calm.
As I planned to take advantage of the January calm, making my lists, and setting my alarm a little bit earlier to try to accomplish some things before the kids wake up, my toddler decided that 5 a.m. is a good time to consistently greet the new day. When a newborn cries their little kitty-cat cry, it’s one thing. When a very robust toddler opens up his powerful lungs to yell, first “Mommy,” “Mommy,” “Mommy” and then “Daddy,” “Daddy,” “Daddy” and then the names of all three of his siblings, in rapid succession, over and over—as if to say, “Someone, anyone at all, please rescue me from my crib prison!”—it sends the heart into an accelerated pulsating action. I find myself springing out of bed to keep him from waking up his older sisters.
Are moms not supposed to have goals, other than gripping the roller-coaster lap bar tighter and trying to survive?
I received a good reminder about goal-setting from another mom, when we took our kids snow skiing in Michigan over Christmas break.
Before I tell you about that, let me just detour for a minute. Skiing with four kids, all under the age of 10, is so fun and there are so many wonderful memories to be made, but it is also So Much Work! We are crazy!
The older two did somewhere between awesome and good. Sophia (almost five) was too short to get on the lift by herself, so we had to grab her in a side-hug and lift her on the bench. Then we had to wave frantically to the guy sitting in the booth at the top of the slope, hoping and praying he would see us, so that he could slow down the lift enough so Sophia could get off without having to jump, because her legs were too short. After all that heroic effort, she did awesome. She really was a natural. She kept saying, “Stop instructing me,” when I would try to advise her, because she had already learned everything she needed to know from the cool, young ski instructor on her first morning’s lesson. She is a typical, independent third-born child, for sure! [I will include a picture of Sophia because there is nothing cuter than a small child skiing, I think.]
We also took Carson, age two, out for a little bit. Basically we are totally nuts! No one in their right mind would take a kid skiing who is still in diapers, right? Right. (This will be Exhibit A if we ever have to undergo an insanity trial.) When faced with the decision of staying back with Carson in the rental house, or taking him, we, in typical fashion, did it the hard way. Life might be hard, but it must never be boring! We did it, we survived, and I will never take a kid that young skiing, ever again. Just thinking about it makes me want to crawl into the fetal position and take a nap.
But back to my main point …
We skied with two other families, whose youngest kids are a few years older than ours. One evening, while we were putting dishes away, one of the moms was talking about her goals and plans, now that her kids are getting older. She turned to me and asked what my goals are. I rattled off a few sentences. She then asked the other mom. The other mom said, “I don’t have any goals.” After some prodding, she indicated that she wants to live intentionally as a mom, here and now. Basically, what I took from it is, she wants to not obsess about future plans, but give her mothering and current pursuits 100-percent of her efforts and resources. Kevin overheard this comment and said, “I respected her for saying that.”
I have thought about my friend’s comment since then. Even before that, I have been mindful of the need for shifting gears. For someone who is a planner, like me, it is important for me to remember that life is happening now, not at some distant, theoretical future point. I need to live in the present more and devote my attention more fully to what is at hand.
This is hard for me sometimes. It’s such a tug-of-war: building for the future, on the one hand and, on the other hand, choosing to relish and develop present moments, too. There is a balance, somewhere in the tug-of-war. But, for me, I really appreciated the reminder from my friend to live more in the present. I’m proud of her, too, for being true to herself, and not just going with the flow.
So, this January, I have a screaming toddler at 5 a.m. In order to have “dreams,” I need to sleep. Since I’m not sleeping much, and my goals have gone by the wayside, I will try to remind myself more often to live in the present. After my toddler calms down, he really is the cutest little guy in the whole world. The quiet moments I have with him, after I’ve had my coffee and I’m fully awake, really are rather precious.
Rather than living in some distant, abstract future where I can accomplish goals on a regular basis, I am going to try harder to embrace what I have now. It’s a really wonderful life. I want to be here, right now.