This was supposed to be my New Year’s post. An end to the Christmas season post and a beginning to the new goals and resolutions for 2019. My newsfeed has been filled with healthy eating posts, exercise regimes, new resolutions, mantras like “New year, new you!” or “the best is yet to come!” Today, however, I don’t really feel like making new goals. It doesn’t feel like a brand new year or a fresh start.
The first day back to school my son threw his head down on the table while the pencil magically flew from his hands across the room. (He insists it wasn’t his fault, that it was just a matter of physics the way it projected itself) The whine in his voice grew as he lamented that he shouldn’t have to review the multiplication facts, he didn’t have time for this and it was pointless. He shouldn’t have to do it every single day.
I sighed. This homeschool gig isn’t always easy, for me or him. I tried to explain why it was important. I explained that we all need math in life and it takes practice, daily practice. I told him a story of when I was young and didn’t enjoy it either, fortunately, he is actually quite talented in math unlike myself. I reminded him how he wanted to become a microbiologist and work in medicine when he grew up. So, of course, he would need to study math.
His response was that I had told him he couldn’t become a microbiologist until he graduated, so he would study math then. This is the innocence of a child and the intelligence and smart remarks that make me want to throw MY head down on the table.
Finally, the no-nonsense mom came out in me and I was done reasoning. I had nothing left to say other than I was his parent and it was my job to make sure he has the tools he needs to succeed in life… whether he wants to or not. In this home, we do hard things and we aren’t always going to want to do it. It’s part of life. Now, go pick up your pencil and let’s do the next question.
And that’s life, in a nutshell, isn’t it? As children, we spend our days thinking if we just finish our school work, get the chores out of the way we can get to what’s really important. What’s right in front of us is simply an obstacle, preventing us from our “real” life. Not much changes as we grow up. We quickly realize that life is still a series of interruptions and challenges. Our purpose becomes clouded as the monotony of our day grows. The big picture drops out of focus and out of reach.
You sit down to eat your lunch and your youngest child yells “Done!” from the bathroom.
The whole family gathers around the table to play a board game but one child refuses to play by the rules. Family game night becomes more of a war zone and yet another interruption in our real life. Supper, that you spent an hour on is forgotten in the chaos and burned. Or the children refuse to eat. There are bills to pay. Meals to cook and dishes to do. Worries to keep you up and night and children to wake you far too early. Messes to clean and behavior to manage.
We are all waiting for something. The workday to be over. To scale a mountain or remove an obstacle. To see our child overcome a challenge. To celebrate a positive pregnancy test or a happily ever after. A new goal weight, or the next health kick. A new organizational system or a clean kitchen. Next weeks paycheck or our next vacation. For the weekend or for school to be done. Waiting and dreading the next dentist appointment or doctors visit. For summer to begin and the winter months be over.
It’s funny, isn’t it? We don’t know what our best days are until they’re already gone because we’re living for tomorrow.
Instead of waiting for days that may or may not come we can be intentional today, no matter what it holds. We can choose to be present in all its untamed glory. The joy and sorrow. Days of celebration and days of unexpected and great disappointments. We can choose to be present in our best of days and our worst of days. We can learn to celebrate the ordinary and find joy in our purpose.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, the heroine from my childhood said it far better than I can. “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”
Like my son and his math work, we have our own work to do today, not as victims of circumstance but as beneficiaries of purpose. Like a garden, contentment will grow. Abundance will make itself known, and joy will be found where it wasn’t before.
This will be my hope for 2019. My goal and my challenge for myself and my family. The word I’ll begin with this year won’t be “new” or “change” it will simply be “present”.
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.” -C.S. Lewis