There’s something about milestones and significant events, be it the start of a new year, a death that crowds the mind with new resolutions and perspectives, the change of a season, or in my case this year, the turning of a year older, this slow inching towards 30.
I’ve never been much of a goal-setter. But this year, I feel a pull in two directions. As mothers, we give. All day, every day. I do not fool myself into saying that we do so willingly or lovingly or cheerfully every single minute, but we don’t have a choice in the matter, and so most times, we love embracing what we’re supposed to do. Yet I, for one, know how easy it is to settle in predictable routines, to wallow in the mundane of Henry’s Bed the eleventh time, the rhythm of morning semolina and bottles, the cycle of doing so many little things yet hardly anything at all. That scrambling for security and identity, the reassurance that I am still my own person under these roles and duties. My purpose this year is to stop believing the lie that forgoing and forgetting about self is somehow more holy, the epitome of selflessness, or the ultimate purpose of motherhood, but to realise that I was first created an individual, with dreams, passions, goals and hobbies woven into my makeup. Unless those very things are nurtured, catered to, and remembered fondly, my personhood dies slow, unnecessary deaths.
This to say, I can feel that I need to remember to do what I love doing; pursuing the creative things that make me blossom as an individual.
At the same time, I feel like the same thing of being caught up in our routine as mothers has just as much potential to breed selfishness as selflessness. Though I easily forget to shift inwards, to tend to myself and what makes me who I am, I just as easily forget to keep an outward focus, to make my world bigger than my family.
Without further ado, Twenty-Six Before Twenty-Seven:
- Blog again: Writing is my main creative outlet and I can scarcely even make plans for the day without making a list or jotting down ideas. When I don’t utilise the pen (er, keyboard) I can feel my soul shrivelling up, and I need this discipline in my life again.
- Invite our neighbours down for a home-cooked meal. This sort of thing feels so daunting to me, so it’s something I want to take on just for the personal challenge. I have no idea how many times I’ve whispered Thank You to God for giving me a talkative husband, capable of sailing through the awkwardest of awkward times and making people feel welcome and loved. I try to not to hide behind him or make excuses for myself, but I love that he’s a safe, comfortable person to partner with in hospitality.
- Potty-train Kezia. I gave this a shot a while before baby number two was born, but I couldn’t get her excited about it and I refused to push her. In other news, a stomach bug also hit around that time, and let’s just say that I wasn’t brave enough to clean up any accidents besides pee.
- Learn to make croissants. Almond ones in particular. My husband grew up on them, and he went weak in the knees over the ones I brought home from Van Wegen’s the other week. Now that I have a borrowed pastry cookbook in my possession, I’m itching to see if I can get the same response out of him when he bites into a warm, flaky, homemade croissant.
- Make Sunday a complete day of rest with no online access. I have no problem with the internet or social media in moderation, but also know how easy it is to tune out to my real world and those around me when I use it. Besides a day of worship, Sunday is also our primary family day and the time when we see other relatives and friends that are dear to us. Those interactions and friendships are far more important than cyber ones.
- Attend a flower-arranging workshop. Floristry’s always intrigued me, but I’ve never gone beyond the tinkering about with greens and blooms at home.
- Attend the local college to begin the preparation course for midwifery. I’ve loved babies all my life and have dreamed for years of both having my own and becoming a midwife besides. I’ve got a husband who cares and cheers, and is pushing me to study a little every month and work my way towards that goal as I can. (There is a huge amount of flexibility in the university, and I would be able to stretch schooling out over ten years if I’d want to…)
- Read a Dickens Classic
- Run 5 Ks. I can walk and climb hills like a maniac at nine months pregnant, but running? Ha! I currently pat myself on the back if I can make it through two minutes without feeling like a heaving, gulping, dizzy mess. C25K , I’m coming atcha!
- Learn French. ‘Cause David promised me a trip to New Caledonia if I let him teach me!
- Make something out of wood. Baby play gym for starters?
- Start a new tradition. I love the predictable things that were part of my own childhood (popcorn and grape juice Sunday nights or homemade pizza on Saturdays…) and I would love to do something now to give my own girls those same memories.
- Make macarons.
- Practice the discipline of purposeful prayer. I talk to God often throughout the day: on the toilet, while washing dishes, and when putting my baby to sleep at night. However, to move past the sort of conversational level where I squeeze my eyes shut, take a deep breath and ask for some special grace, and into that intentional space of interceding and searching and worshipping is something that takes so much effort for me.
- Give something homemade to each of my lady/girl friends from church.
- Go to Fraser Island. When I first met David, he was astonished to find out that my family had lived only a couple hours away from Fraser for over ten years and we had yet to visit. A lot of his favourite childhood memories were formed in this gorgeous place of turquoise lakes, white sands and wild dingos, and as soon as we can find a trustworthy 4-wheel-drive to borrow (no roads there, only sand!) and a spare weekend, we’re off!
- Cook a cuisine I’ve never heard of.
- Go 3 months without scales. This is a long thought-process that deserves its own post eventually, but years of weight + body image struggles have made me realise that I put way too much time in agonising over numbers, and that this would be a valuable step to take. Random fact: I was that miserable teenager who used to weigh 100 kilos . Yeah, for real.
- Do something out-of-the-ordinary once a week for David. ‘Cause dating shouldn’t stop after marriage, and a good relationship takes intention and creativity.
- Send a handwritten card to someone once a fortnight. There is hardly anything that gives me the fuzzies more than receiving mail: knowing that someone didn’t just peck on a keyboard, but actually went to the effort of sitting down with pen and paper and driving to a post box to spread some love. It’s an old-fashioned art that I don’t want to lose.
- Take a personal retreat when both girls are toddlers. Rejuvenate, rest, refocus.
- Host and organise a ladies’ tea. Shortbreads, floral teacups, and pinkies in the air. We all know we love our inner princess.
- Memorise two passages with Kezia. This little girl astonishes me with the songs she already sings from memory, the exclamations she repeats, the questions she asks. It’s made me become so intentional about the things I say, listen to, and pass on to her, because she absorbs everything like a sponge, and I desperately want to channel Scripture and the beautiful things of Christ into her.
- Try a new pattern. I love sewing, but get stuck in what’s comfortable for me or what I’ve always done, and I’d love to try something new and exquisite.
- Attend an Apologetics conference. Ever feel at a stalemate in your faith, longing for a renewed passion and a clear answer for all the whys about Christianity? Yeah, me too.
- Go camping as a family.
Twenty-six, I’m ready for you!