What a year 2016 was! I think we can all agree that our country (and the world) went a little nuts, which brought out a lot of ugliness and hysteria all around.
For me personally, it was a year of hunkering down at home and focusing on family, which was just right. The highs were high, and the lows were awfully low. The worst was losing a very wanted baby to a miscarriage at the end of the year, which was heartbreaking. (This is why I haven’t posted in a while — I took a break from the world to rest and heal.) Through it all, though, we stayed strong. For that, I am truly grateful.
Reflecting on this past year in my universe of moms (both on and offline) I’ve noticed a recurring theme — the sense that where and what she is isn’t enough. Moms beating themselves up constantly and fearing that they’re doing it wrong. Stay at home moms yearning to do something with themselves, thinking that will then be enough, and moms who work outside the home trying desperately to make it all more manageable, thinking that will then be enough. Moms constantly searching for an elusive “balance” that, once found, will finally make them feel complete and happy.
I know this is nothing new. But over this past year, it has taken on a different color for me. I think I have turned a corner. While I used to see this stuff and think, yeah, I get it, now it just seems like nonsense. A waste of time. I now understand the look of patient bemusement on the faces of the rare pro mamas I’ve encountered when I would express some of the thoughts above. You know the ones. They can be any age, but they usually have multiple kids — sometimes a lot of them. For some reason, they are often women of faith. They’re strangely calm and confident about all things parenting, and they never apologize for how they do it, their career decisions, etc. They are great leaders. They don’t complain about sleep deprivation, or their husbands, or having other peoples’ secretions on their clothes. Their kids are mostly well behaved and happy, and so are they. They are in it, deep in it, this motherhood thing, and they have given up fighting it and are at peace. And they make it look easy and simple, not like this huge, daily battle that everyone else seems to be drowning in. These are the pros.
I believe that this past year, I have stepped bigly (ha) in the direction of the pro mamas, and away from the other side. I have finally given up the fight against my reality.
A vestige of my hard-hitting pre-kid days was that I always had that sense that I needed to get to the next thing, and the next one after that. Life felt incomplete, besides those momentary gets. I think those little goals and steps were what gave life meaning back then — I confused meaning with momentum — and that’s not how it works anymore. And I think I have finally accepted this great shift to a new paradigm in life.
This, for me, has been one of the greatest gifts of motherhood. Looking back at the past year, it was probably the least “productive” and slowest year of my life, and yet it was probably my most satisfying year ever. I mean, I did nothing, folks. I took it easy. I let my kids watch TV and eat popsicles every afternoon. I did the New York Times crossword every day over coffee, spent hours cross stitching on the couch, cooked a lot and read books, talked for hours on the phone, occasionally posted here if I felt like it. My life revolved around nap schedules, and I didn’t care at all. For the first time, I really savored being so “unimportant” to the outside world that I could ignore emails, phone calls, and texts. In the summer, we relaxed and went to the pool almost every day, and ate french fries for lunch. And not for a moment did I worry that I was a bad mom, or that something was missing. I allowed myself to know and enjoy that I am in fact an excellent mom and it’s all good.
It was glorious, people. And it was enough, more than enough in fact. I know this is the right direction for me, in this season of life. So I’m keeping at it. The path of least resistance and most peace.
So here’s a thought for the year ahead, if any of this rings a bell with you: Nothing will ever be enough, as long as you are looking outward. “Enough” comes from within.
And, drumroll please . . . THERE IS NO BALANCE. There, I said it! And also, nobody is just a mom. Don’t even get me started on that one.
So, enough philosophizing. What’s ahead in 2017 over here on Patricia Shepard dot com?
I’ll be continuing to post about whatever the heck I want, as I’ve enjoyed that. But in particular this is what I envision:
- More nursing posts, as I’m now in brand new territory, for me, of nursing a toddler (baby is 19 months old — how did that happen?!) and absolutely loving it. My next one will be Nursing at Disney — so stay tuned!
- Book reviews.
- Food/cooking/homemaking stuff. This is my life. As my new year’s resolution is to learn to make my own pie crust, I’ll share some of my savory pot pie recipes, which are a staple in my house — a brilliant go-to freezer dinner, and a delicious way to creatively reuse leftovers of all kinds. I currently make pies with pre-made puff pastry crust from the freezer section, so I think homemade crust will bring them to the next level.
- More cleaning and organizing. Less stuff = more joy.
- More links to random cool stuff/things to read from around the web.
- More Chex Mix. Always more Chex Mix.
And that’s about it.
Happy new year, everyone.