I haven’t written since September.
Well that’s not true. I’ve written quite a lot. I haven’t published anything on my personal blog since September.
And to be honest, I haven’t wanted to.
2018 was the year of Expectations.
Reasonable, realistic and rare. My goals for the year.
Looking back I think I’ve had spells of handling my need for control and to do all the things fairly well but it seems coming off a high of “look how flexible and laid back I’ve been” the anxiety of never being enough would come galloping in, trampling the newly ignited fire of peace and contentment.
But from those bursts of all-consuming anxiety, I’ve developed an inner peace I honestly never thought I’d find. I’ve been anxious, self-conscious, over-thinking my entire life. Motherhood has only amplified those tendencies. 2018 was my first full year as a mother of two. It was a year destined for massive failures and embarrassing breakdowns (mine, not the kids).
And yet, I think I’ve finally started surrounding myself with the kind of women who inspire me. They may not be close friends but they are at least women who are trying to do the same things I am. Many of them are succeeding. And their continued support, candidness, and faith in and resignation to the will of God has gotten me through the good, bad and ugly.
So this year, I’m focusing on growth. But the word “growth” didn’t really speak to my heart the way “expectations” did last year, so I’ve been reading other Word of the Year posts, reflecting on the last year, looking forward to the next year, and the word came to me while reading a chapter of Josef Pieper’s book Leisure: The Basis of Culture.
This year I will spend time every day pondering.
I thought about perhaps claiming “leisure” as my word but I kept coming back to “ponder”. I think because as someone who often clings to control, going beyond leisure and delving into the unknown through the open-minded contemplation that is pondering seems to be a better fit.
It also helps that Husband is particularly fond of pondering and we’ve been searching for a hobby to have together.
Not only can pondering replenish the overwhelm of a job, motherhood and homemaking, it replenishes the soul and, hopefully, will strengthen and enrich my relationship with God.
“This is why the ability to be ”at leisure” is one of the basic powers of the human soul. Like the gift of contemplative self-immersion in Being, and the ability to uplift one’s spirits in festivity, the power to be at leisure is the power to step beyond the working world and win contact with those superhuman, life-giving forces that can send us, renewed and alive again, into the busy world of work.Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Ch. 3
In college, I discovered the Critical Theory and found it to be one of the most fascinating theories I’d ever come across. At one point I hoped to continue my education and earn advanced degrees to potentially write or teach about it at a professional academic level.
That was before a family necessitated a steady job.
I don’t regret those choices but I’ve often found myself missing the academic discussions and “ponderings” that learning required.
I’ve often found myself resenting motherhood for taking that from me, but during my year of reasonable expectations I discovered that it wasn’t motherhood that had taken that from me, but unrealistic self-imposed expectations that sucked ever minute of every day and told me that only complete self-renunciation would make me a good mother.
That’s a huge lie I think many mothers are finding themselves trapped in.
This year, I will carve time for myself to ponder each and every day.
Some days I will follow Husband’s lead and we will ponder together on something he has been contemplating. Some days my children will set the topic. Some days it will come from some spiritual reading like the lives of the saints or other Christian writers or lectio divina from the day’s readings. Some days it will be pondering something from the depths of my sleep-deprived mind as I nurse Baby A back to sleep for the third time that night.
And I will also guard quiet space and time for my children to ponder free from the expectations of others and the invasion of brain space that happens with too much noise and television.
We will remember what it feels like to lay beneath a blue sky filled with fluffy clouds and ponder the universe.
We will remember what it feels like to stay up late and lay beneath that same sky, now black and filled with twinkling stars and planets, and once again ponder the universe.
To watch birds fly and wonder how it can be so.
To build and bake and break and ponder all that we can do.
And to ponder what it can mean that it is all due to our gracious and ever-loving God.