My littlest girl got her first school book today. She’s hung around the table for plenty of school work already. She likes to ride on my back while I lean over to look at her brother’s math pages. But today was the first day she sat at the table with her very own workbook, that is brand new and just for her.
Big sister Stella couldn’t do her own work all day because she wanted so passionately to supervise her little sister. She made an entire alphabet book, unprompted, out of markers and paper. She coached Sadie through holding her marker, making the zigzag lines on the first page of the Preschool workbook, and putting the workbook back in her backpack. Never mind that her own workbook was discarded and face down on a pillow. She wanted more than anything to be the teacher for a change, and at age 6 this was kind of her first chance.
The whole thing makes me feel a little old. It makes me want to slow down time, get a hold of this moment, before my middle child actually is in charge of everything, and my little one is more slick ponytail than jam on her face.
January is for feeling your age, anyway. No matter how old or young you are, it’s a month for slow…slow water in the pipes, taking twice as long to get where you’re going, needing a little extra rest to nurse your winter cold or just your winter bones. January is slow like molasses is slow. There’s time to think about yourself.
No wonder we love to do resolutions and one-word resolutions at the New Year. It’s a preemptive strike against the winter self-reflection. Quick, get on top of it! Get to thinking about where you’re going before you get too clear a view of where you’ve been.
I pick a word, at the beginning of every year, to set a tone and a path and an adventure for the year. I’ve done this, mmm….must be six years now. Wait, no. Five years. Ask. Authenticity. Awake. Ambition. Beauty. (I know…I’m totally stuck at the beginning of the dictionary. 🙂 ) There’s a community of people who do this, the #oneword365 folks, except everyone’s joking about whether or not this year we have to be #oneword366, because of the leap year.
Maybe it’s because of the extra day in this coming year. Maybe it’s because my book release is later than I thought and I need to reset my pace to fit that. Maybe it’s because I’m scared of what comes next in our beautiful but so quickly changing homestead life. Maybe it’s because my kids are never again going to be as little as they are right now. This is our last winter of being the crazy family all piled up on top of each other in a little yurt.
I don’t know exactly what it is — who knows exactly where these words come from, anyway? — but I need “slow.”
I really am a kind of a slow person. Believe it or not. Slow cooking, slow thinking, slow relationships, slow Internet speeds… But I’ve had such a fast life you wouldn’t know it. I was even born pretty quickly, I think…though I don’t remember that part. I was reading grown up books at age 10 or 11. I graduated from high school a month after I turned 15. And I was fully out on my own, working nights in a nursing home and paying my own rent, when I was 16.
I don’t even remember much about those days. I operated a lot in crisis mode. I was always a little bit behind, trying to keep up, trying to make it, trying not to mess up. Also, I think I was trying to conquer the universe, or at least conquer the little piece of it I could see. I ran as hard as I possibly could, for years and years. I had to make a spectacular crash, just to slow down.
Maybe that’s why it made me tired just looking at my little girls today. They have such a natural pressure in them, to grow up and get bigger and learn all the things. But I hope they don’t burn through youth the way their mother did. Or at least, if they do, I want it to be because a fire came from the inside, and not from their mom’s imperfect example.
So…that’s my word for 2016. And you know, I think one of the reasons I’ve never let that word land on me before is that I’ve been horrified by the other meaning of it, that I might not be intelligent. But I don’t really care about that anymore. A lot of my “smart” choices have been really bad ones. I’d rather go through life by feel, even if my instincts are as much animal as they are civilized person. I trust the one who made me and called it good.
So there you go. That’s my word. I don’t know how it will go. Maybe you’ll never hear about it again, and maybe I’ll write about it all the time. Maybe it will manifest as a terrible traffic jam and slow Internet speeds, or maybe it will guide me toward the rest and stillness of listening to God. Maybe both. Maybe it will be only this moment right here that I ever took to pause and reflect and consider. If so, that is enough.
I wish you all a few sweet, slow moments, this molasses January and beyond. And if there’s anything chasing after you, I wish you refuge. May you find rest for your body and your soul.