We start the year like this; Ezra has a new tooth – his third – and a front one no less. He is standing all by himself, several times a day, and very pleased about it. Ava is in the full throes of being a wilful, loopy three year old with a penchant for twirly dresses and bossing people about. Howard is beginning to work more from home, which was a goal for us last year, and he finished his second novel which was a personal goal for him too. And me – I start the year not pregnant (always a novelty), feeling glad that 2013 is done and ready and excited for 2014.
Any year where I birth a baby is going to be a big year, and it was, but also terribly quick, overwhelming sometimes, and almost always busy. The move from one to two children has been blessedly easier than I imagined, and it has actually been easier this time around in general (I’m better in chartered territory). Sometimes it can be a little confusing – navigating the physical and emotional demands of two – but it feels very right, too. Just right.
Some of the goals I made last year, I surpassed. Like making. There has been so much making. For Ava and Ezra and for others, and MamaMake has been in the comfortable position of always having enough to do, of finding a groove just right for us – where we make mostly for those we know, or friends of friends, and don’t have to do any pushing or advertising for more business because we can’t manage all that much to begin with. It was just what we wanted it to be, and I hope it continues like this – as busy or quiet as we want, at any time.
Some goals I didn’t quite reach, like my photo a day challenge (365) – But hey, I did make progress, at least. Last year I stopped in August. This year, the end of October. Next year, maybe I’ll get round to doing a full year, surely.
I started doing some freelance writing too, which wasn’t a goal per se, and although I hope to continue this, my big, main, must-do goal next year is to finish the novel I’m working on. I have to. I just have to. I also want to begin my training as a Doula, hopefully in the Spring, when I am due to attend my friend’s birth, too. I want to get a little healthier because I want to have as much energy as possible for the next time I’m pregnant, which also means toning up my stomach muscles as much as possible (my goodness, these big babies are not the best for my already rubbish tummy muscles)
More than anything I want to return to being more mindful because I have really become such a busy person, addicted to the value of feeling busy with things that can be measured, shown, proven. Maybe that means somewhat of a move inwards – in some ways at least. I think it means being online less, and spending more time meditating, for sure. I can’t help but think that gratitude and mindfulness are key to most things in life, so those are the two things I want to do more, and feel more, next year.
And then there are other things too – camping trips planned, talks of going to a Home Ed festival for the first time, plans to spend time with my oldest, dearest friend on her farm in the very North of Scotland where Ava and Ezra can get mucky and ride her horses and play with the sheep and cows. We’re thinking of going away somewhere further afield too, but are not sure where or when yet.
I have two quilts planned – one for a friend, the other, half-made for Ezra’s 1st birthday (it was going to be ready for his actual Birth Day but, hey-ho, I was pretty busy, and besides, Ava got a Mama-made quilt for her 1st birthday so it has a fine symmetry) And lots of other things I want to try, or do more of.
There is always so much to look forward to, and so much to work through. Always the temptation, more so now, with children, than ever before – to find time, to make time, to cram and squeeze as much as possible into every spare moment. I think back to when I was younger – or my time at Uni, and I find it hard to believe how much I used to just lie around. What did I do with all that time? I do so much more in any month now than I did in any year back then. Maybe I just need to find somewhere between those two extremes where rest and quietness is as honoured as the busy times. After all, a year is just a year – so much shorter than I used to think it.
Anyway – I’ve been thinking about some of the things this year has brought and some of the things I’ve learned. I thought I’d share a few here.
1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. If this wasn’t apparent before having kids, it now is with two. In fact this is something that I’ve learned from friends – one in particular who shared this in passing, and it stuck. It’s so simple really, but so effective. Whenever I chill out, let go of whatever picture I had in my head of how things should be, and just accept things as they are, everything is easier. And nothing is really that big of a deal, except for the few things that are. And those things are things that I won’t be able to ignore.
2.I need to read more fiction. I spent the best part of my life reading and reading and reading, and I’ve carried this over into my parenting life, but instead of fiction, it’s been parenting and psychology and developmental books. I love these. I’m not someone who thinks reading parenting books is going against instinct. As far as I’m concerned, I need all the help I can get, and good parenting books (not the how-to ones, but the idea driven ones) have opened my eyes and given me great help. But reading fiction is different and so important. I like what Kafka says about it: ‘A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.’
3. Say no, more. A lot more. My 3 year old is brilliant at this. She honours her time and space much better than I do. She doesn’t want to play? She wont. She doesn’t want a hug? She’ll tell you.
I have a tendency to say yes to everyone and everything, I suspect because I really like it when people like me and don’t very much like the thought of anyone, even those I don’t like, not liking me. So I say yes even when I want to say no, and I can’t really do this anymore. So I’m not going to.
4. Not everyone has to be my very best friend (said in the irritating voice of Lola from ‘Charlie and Lola’). Some of the closest people in my life are people who I have met and instantly fallen head over heels for and within days, or hours, they’ve become one of my Most Important People. I love this falling for another person and can’t imagine not doing it. But now I know that that doesn’t have to, and won’t, happen with everyone I meet. Some people take a while to get to know, and that’s just as fun. And some people will just be people I know.
5. Time for myself, doing something fun, is not a luxury, or a reason to feel guilty. It is a necessity. I’m certain my kids like me when I’m happy and centered and calm, and it’s not possible to be a happy, fun person when you feel strung out, exhausted and resentful because you haven’t had a minute to yourself for days or weeks or months. Whenever I take time to do something like this, I have to consciously ignore the voice in my head that, it turns out, is not my voice, and doesn’t belong in there.
6. Spend more time with the people I love spending time with which is always a Good Thing. It shouldn’t be hard to be friends with someone. In fact, it’s pretty simple, or it should be, at least.
7. Stop trying to figure It out. It can’t be figured out, that’s the point of It….
You know, I was going to write more. There’s always more to write and better ways to write it. But at some point you just have to hit publish and hope for the best. So I’m going to take my own advice and not spend this evening tweaking and changing and adding things here – that can wait a while. I’m going to keep drinking tea and watching The Office (American version…which is actually better. Really)
One of the coolest things about this year is that I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some bloggers whose blogs I read almost religiously. I’ve been a little starstruck and totally in awe of all they had to say about blogging and unschooling and parenting.
I never know quite what this space will become, but I know the nature of it is ever-changing, and I am always so grateful for the comments and emails and the little WordPress reports that tell me some things about the people who come here. The people I meet through here (online, and in real life) have already become so important to me – I’ve had some amazing writing opportunities and in lots of cases I have been welcomed into unschooling communities and gentle parenting communities where I am surrounded, albeit virtually, by the kind of people I aspire to be like. That’s really all I ever want for this space – to connect with people. And I am grateful for that.
Wishing you all a very happy New Year.