January 20, 2015
I love a good soup. Especially on these winter days, which are short but can feel long as we wait for the smell of mulch that says: warmth! it’s around the corner. Though the light is slowly inching towards 5pm and beyond, that mulch smell is still a good ways off, so in the meantime, I’ll make as many soups as Matt can stand. He is forever making fun of my love of broth and vegetable concoctions.
I’ve got a pot reheating on the stove right now. Part of the reason I’ve got it going is because I’m battling what to write, so getting up gave me an excuse to do something rather than stare at my screen. But also, it’s soup and it’s Chicago and it’s winter. I’ve also been up and down about 8 times for honey roasted peanuts. They remind me of my dad, a favorite snack of his and always in his stockings. Just like peppermint chocolates were always in my moms.
A month ago today Christmas was nearing and the anticipation was building. It feels like such a long time ago now. January days feel steady and even and a little tired, but content too. There is really no spike of excitement. The days are similar, to and from school, lots of inside, lots of Netflix on the iPad and puzzles and playing make believe and bickering and books. And soup. Lots of soup.
There has also been a small but growing and noticeable shift within myself. In response to the quiet, to the slow, to the everyday, to the simple and mundane, I am finding myself honestly able to welcome it and say to it: “OK. This is ok for me.” For the longest time I have had this restless feeling, this sense that I’m not doing enough, that we’re not exciting enough, we don’t travel enough, that I’m not enough as I am and in what I do. And I was constantly battling myself about whether this was a well intentioned tap on the shoulder from ambition or was this the choking hands of comparison? Once I took what others were doing and how others were living out of the equation, it became clear to me that these restless feelings had nothing to do with ambition but everything to do with pressuring myself into feeling like I had to measure up.
Despite the third baby being the smoothest transition for me, in that I wasn’t nearly as anxious about caring for and keeping alive a tiny little human, I have found that three is just busy. It’s definitely a noticeable notch up from two. And not busy in the sense that we are out and about doing things and adventuring all the time, but like, breakfast is busy. Bedtime routine is busy. Getting everyone dressed is busy. Everything just takes a little bit more time and energy, thus I find myself doing less and less of the extras and more of the basics. And that’s ok. For me, that’s just fine right now. I’m coming into a space where I’m realizing I don’t need to be everything to everybody right at this moment. Or even just this: I don’t need to be everything to myself. What I can’t do right now, maybe I can do it later, but somebody else can do it right now, and probably better than I could anyhow, and that is ok. I’m having to let go of this fear and paranoia of letting things and ideas and experiences that don’t quite fit in right now go to others for the moment—the adult version of sharing. I’m having to let go of this belief that all the things must fit into right now, because it’s simply not possible. But even if it were possible, I’ve found that the more I try to cram in actually detracts from the quality of the really good stuff. Less to manage and less to juggle actually just means more of other things, hopefully the most important things if I’ve got my priorities straight. And the here and the now, always, has to be about prioritizing the most important things. Because not only is that all we have, but the here and the now is always changing, so grab a hold of whatever your here and now is. Kicky little legs and missing front teeth will not always be my here and now.
There is that saying about how when you have kids you shouldn’t let that stop you from living life. Having kids has, no doubt, made my life different. It’s busy moments but a slower overall pace. It’s simpler, messier and hopefully more intentional. But since when does different, slow and simple mean you’re not living life? And, who can really say what is the best way to live life? That will look unique for everybody. Our version of our best life right now will be different from somebody else’s. Just like our own version will be different for ourselves ten years from now. Right now, our life is not fancy dinner parties or exotic vacations or a hefty bank account. It’s more like: messy dinners and exotic zoo animals and trying to stretch what’s left. But for me, for us, right now simple is our mantra and less is actually less, but it can be more if we just allow our priorities to shift.
Though I’m finding myself less attracted to measuring up, it’s still hard to live this. It’s hard to really live this, day in and day out. I think it’s a matter of clearing the mental chaos and seeing the little things. The puzzle pieces on the floor and the peanuts and the crossed ankles and the steam rising from the soup.