I was all set out to bring back my Bold Intentions. Because I haven’t done them in a while–on the blog or in my life. Well, I take that back. For the first time in 5 years of marriage, my husband and I are actually on the same page and have been doing three sets of Bold Intentions over the 2015 year. But that’s a story for another time.
I haven’t really been doing a lot of personal goals. I’ve been taking a lot of small steps, and I’ve definitely seen fruit (finally!) come from practicing discipline, but to me, those small steps are not the same as goals.
Here’s the thing. There’s a lot going on right now about goal setting and doing work and chasing your dreams and getting your life plan and then planning it to action and then actually acting on it. Everyone’s got dreams, right? Everyone wants to be doing something more than what they’re doing right now. Everyone has hobbies and passions and ideas and so now there’s a plethora of information about how to take one of those hobbies or passions or ideas and turn it into a goal and then turn it into a plan of action. We wouldn’t want all those hobbies or passions or ideas to sit in the back of your mind without you doing nothing about it, right? Because that’s the ultimate “sin,” isn’t it? To not do something about it?
I’m coming up on a year of motherhood. A year that I feel simultaneously relieved and anxious about because this has been a tragically hard (and terrific!) year and parenting has really only just begun. At the end of a very easy first year of marriage, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “If this is marriage, we’ve got this in the bag!” and then fist bumped each other. But at the end of this first year of parenting, we looked at each other and said, “If this is what parenting is…I’m going to need a nap.” In the last five years of marriage this has most definitely been the hardest year–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
So how am I supposed to be reaching these goals? How do I turn a hobby into a plan of action? How am I supposed to have an entrepreneurial spirit when my body aches from moving all the time? How the hell do I get that bikini beach body the magazines tell me I need when I spend free time playing Old Maid?
I’ve been told many times by many people that if there’s a “trend” or something that a large majority of the population is doing or liking, I automatically won’t do it or like it purely to be different. I’m not sure how true that is. When there’s a large group of people doing something, I’m more likely to immediately question the communal thinking and then decide for myself. It just so happens that oftentimes I decide differently.
Just like everyone else, I, too, have been swept up in this goal-making frenzy. But instead of getting all excited and feeling my heart beat fast with nervous anxiety, I start to feel panicky. My palms sweat. I can’t catch my breath. Homeostasis fails me. And instead of questioning whether I should get caught up in the craze or not, I just allowed myself to make lists and charts and plans, thinking that that’s all I need to get my body to calm down.
Lately I’ve felt very much like a failure, in a lot of different ways. I feel like I’m failing as a wife when my house isn’t clean or when my husband yearns for time with me and I don’t respond to him. I feel like I’m failing as a mom when I feed my kids cereal for dinner because every.single.dish is dirty or when my youngest wants to snuggle but I don’t respond because there’s too much other stuff to do. I feel like I’m failing as Caitlin when I get home and don’t do anything “for myself” (unless it’s Netflix after the girls are asleep) and if I do it’s not anything “productive.” And then I feel like a failure when all I want is time for myself but I have three other people depending plus a dog depending on me for survival.
This morning I made a list: All The Areas I Feel Like a Failure and Why and What Small Step I Can Take to Do Something About It. And I wrote it all out. And I decided I would write until my hand cramps and my mind can’t produce any more failing thoughts and I’d have it on paper with all my small steps and I would just work on those. At the end I went over my list and realized that there were really three categories: My Spirit, My Body, My Home. There was no category labeled My Dreams, or My Goals, or Me Time. It’s full of simple things like not talking to Jesus, not doing morning yoga, not cleaning my bathtub. And when I lay it all out, as long as the list actually is–and it is long–it’s not overwhelming and it’s not really life-draining. Actually, it’s just a list of life-giving things I should be doing on a regular basis. Like washing dishes. Folding clothes. Cooking dinner.
So here’s my giant Bold Intention for the summer: JUST WAIT. I’m going to literally put every thing on hold–any passion, any goal, and hobby, any dream–and just wait. I’m going to settle in my comfy chair in the mornings and pray. I’m going to play Old Maid until I get one hundred paper cuts. I’m going to scrub the dishes until I form callouses. And I’m going to love all of it. I’m going to enjoy every crumb I get to pick off the floor and every time I get to hold my husband’s hand.
And I’m going to pray for grace every time I begin to feel like I’m failing again. Because of all the steps to take, I’ve got to get at least that one right.