As 2018 comes to a close, I sit down to write with my nearly 4-week old son propped up on a blanket and nursing pillow as he gulps down yet another snack. I lightheartedly wonder to myself if he is the hungriest man alive.
In my loose plan for the day, I had hoped Theo would be sleeping during this little window while my daughter is out before my husband gets back from work. But plans of quiet moments we mothers have don’t always (rarely?) seem to work out as we had hoped.
So, Theo and I sit here together. He is content with his meal; and I take a few deep breaths to settle into this time here with you.
To the periphery on my right, flames dance in the fireplace, and just above the top left corner of my open laptop, white roses unfold.
And we’ve arrived, to the end of another year. I have taken the last few days to reflect on 2018, but only just this morning was I able to see how extraordinary it was. Even now, after all of this time I’ve spent unfurling the grips of perfectionism and validation by achievement, it takes me a while to get through layers of what didn’t happen to clearly see what did.
And to be honest, this year takes my breath away.
I lived for the first time in another country – a life-long dream fulfilled. And not only that, we thrived there, having made friends who inspire us, having created space for what matters in life, having esteemed a core value of presence.
We welcomed our son into the world, just weeks ago here at year’s end. While I am still fully integrating the birth experience and plan to share more when that process feels a bit more complete, I can tell you now that the experience was one great miracle. Our boy was born minutes after I entered the water in the birthing tub we had next to that same fireplace where I see out of the corner of my eye a small fire burning now. From first contraction to healthy birth, I labored for under two hours. But there is so much more to that story – about how we prepared and how I let myself surrender to the rhythms of life.
With our two children now here, life has become something new entirely. The moments alone and opportunities to catch our breath are much fewer. But, the moments I catch myself in awe have multiplied.
And it’s awe in the little moments – a soft, small yet quickly growing hand in mine, or discovering a new book or leaf or word said four times to make sure she captures it. The little moments I put down my phone to watch my son stare back at me. The moments when my daughter and husband are swept up in laughter, or when on Christmas night, he looks over to me after our dinner guests have left and my daughter has finally fallen asleep, and asks, “How are you really doing?” and my eyes well up with tears.
This is the wholeness of our life these days. We live true to our values and as we do, we get more of what really brings our hearts alive. At the same time, we get less of some things we value but that don’t fit like they used to.
Grand dreams of a global nonprofit now fit into these pint-sized moments with my family and loved ones. Did I really choose love today? Was I present with the people in front of me? How did I do close in?
Theo is stirring now, so we’ll come to an end.
Happy New Year, friend!