2013 was hard. It was really hard. And even before that, I’ve struggled for longer than I care to think about, with many, many things. When you struggle for a long time, it sometimes makes it hard to see the good things. And there are a lot of good things in my life, too. This is true now probably more than any other time in my life.
So while I was thinking of a word to focus on for 2014, my first thought was “gratitude”. But then I thought, “I don’t want to just be thankful for things in my life. I want to make sure to enjoy them.”
Then I thought of some other things… how I’ve often “hurried” through things, sometimes wonderful things. How even with my loved ones, I’m often hurrying to the next thing, not really stopping to enjoy the person. I’m always looking to the future, “When this happens, I will be happier.”
In early December, I decided I did not want the rushed, stressful holiday season that we had experienced for the past few years. I wanted to slow down, enjoy it. So I did… mostly. (Old habits die hard. And sometimes, stress happens.) It felt better. It felt… right. Enjoyable, even. And because I wasn’t rushing, wasn’t trying to be perfect, I could savor the season.
I want to enjoy life, enjoy my family, be grateful for them, for all the good things I have in my life. This also means that I need to be willing to make some changes, let go of some activities, people who aren’t good for me, stop doing things I don’t enjoy… or find a way to enjoy them.
So when I as I considered what my word for 2014 would be, savor seemed appropriate.
As if to confirm my decision, Kai and I had an awful, absolutely awful experience at the store. Again. One of the biggest points of contention was that he kept dragging his hands over everything – and some of the endcaps had some fairly expensive beverages in glass containers. Several other things that happened, but that was particularly upsetting – if those broke, it would be a lot of money and he could be hurt. I left frustrated and upset. I appealed to my friends for advice. I worried he’d never learn not to do that. And I got lots of good advice, from many people. But one thing really stuck out.
Kelly Hogaboom, who is one of the wisest people I know (and you should read her blog if you don’t already), said, “Have a sense of humor, hold you and your child as worthy to be in public, and enjoy time with the kiddo. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Go slow. There’s no need to teach him to know how to respect property today. Today you just need to keep him & everyone safe. Some take a long time & much repetition to learn how to handle things non-destructively. I parent best when I take the long view… I can tell you w/o a doubt, yes they learn. On THEIR schedule! When we are patient & persistent.”
That struck a very deep chord with me.
I realized that I’m still trying to “prove” we’re doing things right, that Kai will be fine with us – I had to do that once for a Guardian ad Litem when final custody was being decided for Kai and, even after that, there was a constant threat from Kai’s bio-mother that she’d put him in school if we weren’t doing things the way she wanted, and, for a while, constant threats of courts and lawyers and whatever, for even the tiniest thing. (Being a step-mother is not for the faint of heart. Being a stay-at-home “custodial” homeschooling step-mother even moreso.) And now… I don’t have to prove myself to her anymore. While I never wished for her death (and we were starting to come to more of an understanding between us), it does take a load off my shoulder that I no longer have a person to whom I constantly have to prove my worth and the worth of what I do. The problem is, though, that sometimes, when we get into a pattern, it is hard to climb OUT of that pattern. It’s been hard for me to just SAVOR life, because you can’t, not everything has to be right and perfect, not when you constantly have to prove yourself and live up to someone else’s constantly changing standards. You have to move quickly, think ten steps ahead, and, above all, be perfect.
It’s time to let go of all that. It’s time to enjoy life, even when it’s not perfect. Even when we’re not perfect. Even when it’s hard. It’s time to look for the moments of joy. To find joy, even when it’s hard. To be grateful, even when times are trying. To slow down. To stop constantly worrying. To not take things for granted. To look around and notice that, hey, my life right now? It’s actually pretty great.
It’s time to savor life.