I am on the cusp of a new week. Sunday night, the night when I sit down and look at the week ahead and make a "plan." I always feel a little overwhelmed when I think about all the things I need to/would like to accomplish in the coming days, and yet I don't really know why. Most of what I do doesn't have set deadlines.
I think feeling overwhelmed is just part of my nature, but it's something that I consciously try to change about myself every single day. I have always dreamed of being someone who is relaxed, spontaneous, present, and carefree--someone who is not busy and who people know they can call on a whim if they want to hang out or if they need to talk. I am making progress on this goal, as I constantly try to simplify my life, say no to commitments that will make me stressed, and manage my time better. But it's a work in progress. I'm a work in progress.
In high school, I noticed that one of my best friends was starting to distance herself from me, and when I asked her why, she said, "Oh you're just so busy. I don't want to be one more thing you have to fit in." A little hurt, I responded, "But I would always make time for you!!" I will never forget her response. She looked at me seriously and, without an ounce of malice, said, "Rachel, no one wants to feel like their best friend is 'making time' for them."
I have never forgotten her words, and they are so so SO true. So I am working on this.
I want more than anything to be present with my kids. I don't want to waste their baby years checking things off my to-do list. I never want them to look back and feel like I simply squeezed them in between cleaning and projects and to-dos. I recently heard a sermon in which a busy, young, wise mother was quoted as saying, "Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for."
That last line has stayed with me, and I have thought of it often. Motherhood is what God gave me time for.
My days with the kids are simple and sometimes frustrating, but I have been praying lately that God will give me "eyes to see" the beauty in this current stage of my life--to see beyond the surface and to recognize the gifts underneath. As I look around my house and see train tracks scattered across the floor and dirty baby bottles lining the kitchen counter, I try to see the blessings instead of the mess--the blessing of having a creative, active, thriving little boy underfoot and a snuggly, hungry, healthy baby girl in my arms.
These days are precious. They are also repetitive and mundane, but they are all pieces of the mosaic that will become my life--and they are pieces of the mosaic that will become my children's lives.
I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about who I am, who I have been, and who I want to be. Sometimes I miss the "old Rachel" who adventured across the world and had endless energy to accomplish anything and everything (did I really start an international volunteer program while in the midst of my first year of teaching when I had 207 students?? WHO WAS THAT GIRL?!?!). Sometimes I can't figure out how to reconcile the girl that I used to be with the girl that I am now--and yet I know in my heart that I am the same person with the same core beliefs, values, and characteristics. How can I honor what has been and never forget it, while also honoring what is and what will be?
It was in that mindset that I recently discovered the last verse in the book of Job, and it has been a long time since a verse of scripture has spoken to me so directly. As the final words to the story of an amazing life, the Bible simply says, "And Job died, being old and full of days."
Understanding flooded over me as I read and reread those last few words: "Being old and full of days." Each day of my life builds on the last. I am full of days. Each experience, each trial, each adventure, each joy, each sorrow, each friendship, each bedtime story read to Noah, each lullaby sung to Sally, each conversation snuggled up with Ryan--they become part of my foundation, they are still part of who I am.
This image makes me happy--the idea of being full of days. It gives me peace. It helps me to cherish these routine moments at home with my kids, these days that are adding to the breadth of who I am becoming.
A wild-haired Noah eating yogurt and watching a show.
A wiggly Sally, climbing all over her Daddy (who is always and forever reading a book).
A messy house, full of the evidence of Noah's current favorites: trains and forts.
Date nights with Ryan, holding hands and walking the trail at the bottom of the canyon as we discuss our children, his career, our hopes and dreams, our future.
These are the moments that I want to be full of when I reach the end of my lifetime. This is who I want to be.
Tonight as I head to bed, readying myself for the new week ahead, I am feeling comforted in the knowledge that nothing is ever lost. Days build upon days, and moments build upon moments--the good and the bad, the ups and the downs--they all count, they all make me who I am.
And when I die, I, like Job, will be old--and full to the brim with a lifetime of remembered and forgotten, meaningful and mundane, simple yet profound, days.