Three years ago, while Jeremy was still in Georgia getting our house together to sell and I was living here alone with four children, I started reading the Bible to the kids over breakfast.[Read more…]
I am drowning, I wrote to myself in my journal. No, that’s not right. I’m being bricked in. It was a few weeks after Beatrice was born. I was already back in the swing of things–I had been since her second week. Schooling, housekeeping, childrearing, everything. I had sent a text a friend saying I felt “thin”, like Bilbo with the ring. To another, I confessed, Number Six may be the one that does me in.[Read more…]
Words really do get stuck. There is something in the act of opening the computer and sitting down to write that makes them absolutely congeal in my brain. What was a coherent string of thoughts becomes a gelatinous mass of random one-line thoughts. What’s for dinner? We should take the library books back. My back hurts. What’s that noise? What will the weather be like tomorrow? I should message so-and-so back. Where’s Anselm? What was I wanting to write about again? What time is it?
It was raining outside that day, but it was warm. I was determined that we should take a walk that day, even in the rain. Rather, I thought we should take a walk because it was raining. Because we never take walks in the rain. Is it different in the rain? How different? What shall we see that we don’t see when it’s dry outdoors? You don’t know unless you begin, do you?
We took a walk in the rain precisely because we don’t usually. I am ever looking out for those things we don’t do that we perhaps should. It’s something of a hobby–perhaps more like an obsession. My avoidance of uncomfortable things is a never-ending mystery and I investigate it with the tenacity of any detective: Why am I avoiding this? What would happen if I didn’t? I wanted to walk outside in the rain because I never do it. I never do it because it’s uncomfortable. I know that those uncomfortable things usually yield the most surprising and satisfying results.
I think that’s also why I push through these stiffening, uncooperative thoughts, and try to put down here what words I can. There is something in the exercise alone that’s worth it. I always feel better for it.
As the new year has begun, I’ve found myself spending equal amount of time looking forward and looking back. I’ve re-read my bullet journals for the year, the hopes and the challenges I wrote for myself, and using that as a guide for my goals for this year.
I didn’t really have resolutions last year. I knew I was having my fourth baby and I knew we were moving from Georgia to Kentucky, and I figured that would be enough to worry about. And didn’t know the kids and I would be living in a different state than Jeremy for half of the year while we waited for our old house to sell. It was a good year but a long one!
It’s the en vogue thing, at the start of the year, to choose a word for the coming year, to guide and steer decisions and hearts. I have thought long and hard over it, and I couldn’t really settle on just one word. My hope for 2017 is an ideal that I can’t find just one word to summarize. So here are a few words–my hopes for the new year.
If I hadn’t slowed down intentionally I would have missed it for sure–even though the sign was large, it was hidden behind overgrown trees that blocked it from view until it was almost too late. The road sloped down to the right in a westerly direction; great green-grassed ditches were on either side of the pavement. In the distance the road disappeared around the bend and into the trees.
“I have to set the stage for you,” said my Aunt, and I slowed to a stop there in the road. There is very little traffic in this part of rural Kentucky, and the road we’ve turned on is even more rarely frequented. I didn’t even think to turn on my flashers as we sat there. “In this town there is a hotel. There is a train depot and railroad track. There are restaurants; there are little streets and houses.”
“Right now?” I was excited at the thought of seeing a little, well-preserved town.
But she shook her head. “No. Well…you’ll see.”
It was just after 8:30 a.m. when the questions started. Coincidentally, this was also when the globe light in the boys’ room turned off, signaling that it was alright for them to get up and out of bed. Clive was the first out the door, as usual, and his questions started as soon as he met me in the hallway; Ephraim was languishing in bed–also as usual–and his questions started as soon as I walked through the door of their room.
On this particular morning he was flipping through a book–Sam and the Firefly. They love this book, and we read it frequently. He must have gotten the book while he was waiting for the light to go off. I greeted Ephraim, then lifted Anselm out of his crib and laid him on Clive’s bed to change his diaper.
Ephraim was gazing at one of the last pages of the story when he asked, “Mom, why are they happy that the train has stopped?”
Dedicated to Anselm Ioan
Who is Two-Years-Old
It was a half-past four when Elvie woke this morning, grumbling and complaining after having flipped herself over to her back (she hates that, but won’t stop doing it.) I turned on the lamp against the darkness and went to get her from her crib. It seems early, but it’s only half an hour earlier than when I want her to get up and not so early to feed her and put her back to bed.
I sat cross-legged on my bed while I fed her, and once my eyes stopped closing of their own accord, I picked up the devotional that was sitting on the bedside table. It was by Charles Spurgeon and part of a two-book set, one book having readings for morning and the other having readings for evening. And before I sound too holy, let me say that this was the evening book I was about to read, and I did so because I hadn’t been keeping up with reading the evenings ones, and I also wasn’t exactly sure where the morning book was... But I’m trying not to look at my phone first thing in the morning, and the devotional was available, so I picked it up and turned to the entry for today. Well, for this evening, anyway.
When I first read about slow living–or began seriously overthinking it, truthfully–there was one aspect of the lifestyle that I couldn’t reconcile with my life as a full-time homemaker and mother-of-four. It was the question of where routines and schedules fit in with the concept. In eschewing “busyness”, was slow living attempting to throw off living by a clock? How so? And how much? And was that really possible?
If you have small children at home, you know how quickly things can devolve into disorder if there is not something–or someone–uniting all things in a common purpose and steering everyone’s attention toward that end. Without that anchor, my children (or, really, the three that can move independently) are like ships tossed on the waves of whatever their whims are at the moment, and I am reduced to herding and chasing and nagging and then yelling to get everyone back together. And it always takes longer in the gathering than the scattering.
It has to be said that there really are times that they should be able to pursue their own interests and let their feet run off to wherever their minds will–that’s what our copious amount of time for outdoor play is for, really. But times when it’s time to eat, or sleep, or brush teeth, or whatever things have to be done because they must be done? What then?