This year has sparkled with good things–I don’t say this flippantly. I truly sleep without interruption most nights. My children are 75% potty-trained, as a whole. Our house projects are minor and not choking us every weekend. Homeschooling is good–full of challenges, discoveries, walls and breakthroughs. James and I are close–we laugh together, plan our strategies, share our fears, encourage each other.
My 2018 New Year’s resolution was to be kind–to myself and to others, especially when weighing a choice between two decisions. I don’t know how well I kept to it, (but I didn’t forget it!). What I do know is that kindness is a much nobler motivation than guilt.
For me, I predict 2019 will be a year of movement. Less stillness and waiting, more action. My upcoming publication in Writers of the Future Vol 35 is designed to launch my career into the professional arena and I can only hope and pray that I’m ready for it.
Next month I’m headed out for a weekend retreat during which I’ll crack open a novel manuscript that I finished over two years ago. It almost certainly needs a full rewrite, an overhaul of vision, structure, plot, and characters. When I showed it to my critique group, they were quite encouraging, yet I felt an indescribable block, a mental pressure telling me I wasn’t ready to complete the project.
So, now that WotF recognition suggests that an agent will pay attention to me, I’m going to approach the manuscript again. A second leg of the plan is to invest resources in buying myself more time to write. This feels necessary, if only for a trial period.
For reasons I can’t fully explain, spending monetary resources to help me manage household, career, and kids makes my chest shake and my head spin. I suspect it’s some combination of the independence lie that says I should be able to do it all myself and the insidious mama-guilt that insists I should be spending every minute of the day with my children or else I am selfish. And yes, with homeschooling them, there is no “wait till they’re in school” timeline.
A memory surfaces here, of this spring when I decided to wean my daughter, 18-months-old at the time. Guilt had a heyday with me, telling me I was depriving my girl of her best nutrition before she could decide on her own that she was ready for 100% solid foods. Then, while I was praying about it, Jesus reminded me that I needed to be kind to myself. To remember there was the well-being of two souls in this equation. My New Year’s resolution in action.
At the time, I was preparing for a 10-day artist residency and the stress of pumping for my daughter while I was away was a huge source of stress. So I weaned her. She was happy and unperturbed and already delighted with solid foods. But there was agony in the decision until I recalled that my peace and comfort mattered, too.
Motherhood has taught me depths of patience and selflessness that I really didn’t dream I’d ever attain, even in a million years. But those things came hand-in-hand with anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue. (I’m doing a bang-up job selling parenthood as a fabulous lifestyle choice, I’m sure. Ha! But you know I don’t regret becoming a mom. My heart has never been softer or fuller since having little tender “shoots” to nurture and watch as they slowly blossom. But I digress.)
I’ve become a better person, and I’ve simultaneously found new ways to harm/neglect myself. Why is the coin *always* double-sided? I don’t know.
How do I live in grace, pursue the dreams to which I’m called, love and honor the family and precious souls in my life–and stop second-guessing myself?
Many have advised me to take it easy while my kids are young–to just let writing take a backseat for now. With a few exceptions, that has just made me miserable. I can’t give it up. And I don’t want to give up on raising my kids, either. I just want to write speculative fiction at a professional level, homeschool my kids, maintain a flourishing marriage, have intimate and deep friendships, and have all these things bring the healing light and beauty of God into the shadowed avenues of pain, horror and loss in this world.
Elise, that’s a tall order, did you know that?
Grace. Grace. Grace. The grace to make mistakes so that I can learn from them. The grace to move forward in courage rather than stay where I am, rooted in fear. The bold grace to speak the loving words that go too long silent. The grace to treat myself like a precious, brilliant being, the same identity I am trying to instill in my children.
That’s not exactly a list of resolutions for 2019, but it’s the state of my heart as 2018 draws to a close.
Here’s to 2019, and may it be a year rich in grace for each one of us!