Thursday 16 January 2014

Finding our stride

January is passing in its usual slow-and-fast sort of way. We're settling into a nice rhythm and for once I don't terribly mind the dreariness outdoors; I'm happy to stay inside, sipping tea and reading books to my babies.

Oh, but they're not such babies anymore. The boy is already winding up for his seventh birthday. ("It's still three months away," I keep reminding him, but he continues to plan it out in detail anyway.) He looks somehow older every time I look at him, and sometimes I just stare and stare, wondering who this child is and where that round faced baby has gone to. He's creative and resourceful and interesting and maddening and fascinating and stubborn and talkative and grumpy and happy and inquisitive and just everything, just wonderful.

And then there's my preschooler, my newly four year old. He's losing his baby face too, just a little bit. He has not yet, in his four years on earth, discovered any other volume aside from loud. Everything he does, he does with passion, with absolutely everything that is in him. Oh, how much I could learn from him about fully embracing the moment. I adore the way his eyes light up so entirely, and then too there's the other side of his passion, the side that challenges me and stretches me and teaches me patience and compassion no matter how much I fight it. He is fire, this one.

Last, but refusing to be least, the baby-turned-toddler who will not be ignored. She's still my sweet snuggler, though. One thumb in her mouth, the other hand twisting in my hair, she'll lean against my chest and simply be. The hair thing is sweet during the day, but oh, some nights...and yet I'll miss it when it's gone, I know that for certain. She helps me with the laundry and the dishwasher, always right there with her cries of "here! here!" as she hands me the clothing or the silverware one by one. She loves snatching her brothers' Lego, running away squealing with a prized piece clutched in her hand as they protest and chase her through the house. Anything for their attention.

Our days aren't quiet, what with all that talking and expressing and squealing. But they're somehow peaceful in their own way. We're not busy, not rushed, and we wander contentedly through our days together. We read about Laura Ingalls at seven years old, living in house in the ground on the banks of Plum Creek. We eat and colour and play games and drink hot chocolate with marshmallows floating on top.

And every day they write while I sit close to them on the bench at the desk. I dictate and they write while they eat a small snack - "brain food", we call it - and it's lovely, truly lovely. (If you haven't already read this little book on dictation, you should, truly. Short and sweet and to the point, it's well worth the small price.) The preschooler is writing out, slowly, his favourite song from The Hobbit:

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates —
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

The boy, meanwhile, began with a different passage from the same book:

“Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.

I chose the initial passage, as it felt encouraging as we bravely go forward into this new year. Once that passage was done, however, he decided that he wanted to simply continue on from there. He has plans right now to write out the entire book, but plans do always have a way of changing on us, don't they? We shall see.

The husband and I spend our always-too-short evenings playing games or watching a show or simply sitting side by side on the couch. We are truly treasuring the unexpected way that last year's trials have drawn us together and allowed us to truly see each other more clearly, to know each other more deeply. There's still pain there as well, no mistake, but it's softening, and there's mercy in that too.

Only and already half over, January has been good to us so far. I hope it has been good to you as well.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Go Forward

"You can still turn back, you know. But to go on, to take those steps, that would be the bravest of all moments. Whatever happens afterwards is nothing. Yes, here is where you fight your real battle, Mr. Bilbo Baggins. Do you go back? No."

-The Hobbit animated movie, with a nod to J.R.R. Tolkien's original quote

To go on, to take those steps, that would be the bravest of all moments.

Maybe you're like me. Maybe you're not sure you feel ready for a new year or a clean slate or fresh shiny goals, all those things that usually sound so lovely and freeing. Maybe you, too, feel slammed into this new year, still gasping for air after the trials of the old one.

This past year was a difficult one. High, low, high, and then low, low, lower than ever, autumn crashed its way into winter and I'm still reeling. Some days are okay and other days aren't at all; there are still fresh waves of pain because I just can't forget.

I don't feel very brave as I look into this new year. But I simply need to go on. In fact, I've already taken those first tentative but brave steps. I've already gone on, walked through pain because I chose to continue rather than turn back. I've already fought that first real battle and here I continue forward, ever forward.

That will have to do for now.

If you, like me, don't feel quite ready for this new year, don't worry. Don't fret about resolutions and intentions and goals and Becoming A Better You. Just go on. Just choose to walk forward into this new year; that would be the bravest of all things.

Go forward in hope.