I’ve been thinking a lot about self growth. I’m past those early new mom days where just getting out of the door feels impossible. I’m past the shock at how destructive and loud and wild a toddler can be. And (after a LONG time) the constant multitasking of having multiple children now feels normal. It’s not like we’re at a stage where everything is easy by any means (just yesterday it took us an hour and a half to finally get out of the door to run errands), but now that I have a 2 and 3.5 year old- instead of a tiny baby and a 1.5 year old, things feel more manageable.
I don’t need to justify myself, but all I’m trying to say is that as I have more time and my kids are beginning to play by themselves more. I’m feeling a pull to put time and energy into personal growth. I want to read. I want to write. I want to be informed on what’s going on in our country and around the world. I want to minister to others.
I get this drive and these thoughts, so I make goals to write for an hour a week on my blog and get multiple books I want to read and have dreams of painting and redoing rooms in my house. And then there’s errands to run and meals to cook; the house is a mess and continually looks like a bomb of trucks and Legos and dress up clothes went off (and then of course there’s actual cleaning); and the laundry – oh the laundry! And on top of housework there are babies to love and serve and to play with and be present with; to take the time to talk about what they’re feeling, help them to be honest when they’re hurting and learn appropriate ways to manage their anger; there’s effort needed for discipline and teaching that obedience can bring life; there’s developmental and academic tasks I’m trying to remember to teach and then there’s controlling my own anger when they are disobedient and disrespectful and repenting when I mess up and kissing cheeks and giving hugs and cleaning up messes and solving problems all day. And of course I’m not only a Mom, but a Christian, a wife, a friend, a daughter. I long to know Jesus better and spend time with him and serving him. I seek to make my husband feel valued and give him space he needs at the end of the day to play with us and relax from his busy work day instead of just tapping out and expecting him to do all the chores and childrearing needed.
And then all of a sudden I realize I can’t even keep the playroom clean or stay up on the laundry – how did I think I was going to spend all this time and energy on this burst of creativity?
One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve started blogging again is that I am RUSTY. It’s hard to put my thoughts on paper, it’s hard to communicate effectively what I’m trying to say and it’s hard to finish. I probably have half a dozen blog posts that are super sloppy and in need of an almost-redo and then some that I blanked out on in the last ¾ and just COULD NOT FINISH. (And I literally have 31 drafts) This isn’t to say that all of my old blog posts are excellent. I look back on many of them and cringe! But when I was doing it regularly, it flowed so much more freely.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Outliers” where he looks at why some people are successful (and some aren’t.) One of my favorite points is he shares it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, which is roughly 5 years of 40 hour work weeks. Though relationships or parenting may not quite fit into that theory, the broader picture is that practicing is what helps your skills grow the most.
It’s easy to look at successful people or those we call “geniuses” and almost write them off as they’re not even real people. ‘Oh he’s so brilliant, I could never do anything like that,’ ‘She’s written so much good music, she must have just been born with limitless creativity.’ It may be true that the most successful people have a mix of intrinsic talent and hard work. But the hard work MUST be there.
I’m a HUGE (HUUUUUUGGGEE!) fan of Hamilton: The Musical and have been so intrigued by Lin-Manual Miranda who wrote the entire thing. I’ve been following him on social media and have seen and listened to older clips, different things he’s written what has struck me the most is HOW MUCH HE WRITES. Does a guy like that have God given talent? YES. A thousand times yes. If he just sat down once and hoped to write a Broadway play would it have happened? No, that’s insane.
One of my favorite tracks from Hamilton is “My Shot.” It’s in the beginning of the musical, a declarative fight song of what Alexander Hamilton wants to do in his life and parts of this song are revisited throughout the musical as significant parts of the plot are happening. It’s an amazingly important song and really sets the tone for how powerful this show will be. Lin-Manuel Miranda took ONE YEAR to write this song.
I can’t even fathom what exactly that looks like. Taking ONE YEAR to write a 5 minute and 30 second song.
There’s definitely a special form of creative obsession and desire for greatness that is needed for something like that. (And LMM – the world THANKS YOU SO MUCH!) Do I necessarily have that? Nah. I’m never going to write something world changing, I’m not going to write the “next classic.” And that’s totally and completely okay, that’s not something I’m upset about or even something I want in my life. Do I want to be a better writer? Do I want to be able to communicate well? Do I want to be able to teach clearer bible studies and expound the Word? Do I hope my friends can point people dealing with infertility to my blog? Do I maybe hope to write a book sometime in my life? Sure.
But is now the exact time that I can spend the majority of my time on reading, writing, listening, growing?
No definitely not!
God has called me to this beautiful season of raising and loving little people to His glory and our joy and for our good. It’s hard and taxing but just so glorious!
That doesn’t mean that those goals aren’t worthy and I shouldn’t work towards them. I’m definitely in a better headspace to be thinking and dreaming of them and those dreams are no small task. I want to capitalize on that. But I can’t see it as a long term goal and think that means that currently, I’m a failure. I keep thinking of the title I chose when I wrote a blog post at the beginning of the year and how when wanting to eat an elephant, you eat one bite at a time.
It’s easy for me to get bogged down with how much growth I want to see happen in my life. I want to eat healthy, I want to start exercising, I want to be super present with my kids, I want to be an emotionally available wife, I want to be able to complete tasks and not just add them to my to do list day after day, I want to be smarter, I want to be wiser, I want to know my bible intimately and have vast parts memorized, I want to be well read, I want my home to be a beautiful picture of us, I want to be more hospitable and welcome people in, I want to be creative and work out my creativity in crochet and home projects and words.
It’s a lot.
But I’m beginning to notice and grasp the beauty of dreaming. Making dreams to try new things or do something completely different takes a lot of courage. And to begin them or stay with them or complete them takes even more courage.
And sometimes it’s as simple as starting and not stopping.
About 3 years ago I had a revelation. I had spent the previous 3-4 years in a cycle of losing 10 pounds, then gaining it plus a few more back once or twice a year. I realized that when I tried, change happened. It may have been very little. It may have been much slower than I hoped or much harder than I had hoped. But it did happen. At that point I told myself I just wanted to keep trying. Just keep trying to eat healthy and exercise. Although the Lord has been gracious in making some huge positive changes in my health the past year, I think moving towards health started there. Even 6 months ago – after my 90 day whole30, I would eat super clean all week then on the weekends, make a batch of brownies, eat some batter, then finish the batch in 2 days. I had worked SO HARD and then there were weeks where that was my pattern. The old me would have thrown in the towel and noted that it’s not working, I can’t do it so I might as well give up. But now I realize the power in minute changes. And so I did another whole30. I stopped keeping brownie mix in the house (duh right?) Basically I just DID NOT GIVE UP.
I lost about 25 pounds with my 90 day whole30. I finished that about 7-8 months ago and haven’t really lost any more. I’d love to lose more weight, but I’m trusting the process this time. I’m staying focused and keeping at my goal and just trying to tweak and make minute changes.
I think that’s the best path for all of these things for me right now. If I want to read more, I can read a couple pages before bed. If I want to write, I can set aside an hour a week. If these things don’t happen, it’s okay! There is abundant GRACE for this season and the Lord is with me.
Feeling so thankful to get all this out on paper (and I’m about 6 minutes from writing for an hour) and for the grace to make changes in baby steps.