Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Resolutions

         

          As a teenager, I used to keep journals and diaries and, every year, I would write down a long list or resolutions. Each year, at the beginning of the year, I had a long list of stuff I wanted to accomplish. But, at the end of the year, I hadn't accomplished much or even any of it and would end up re-writing the resolutions again for the next year. I wish I had some of those old journals and diaries to look at now. All I remember is that the resolutions were often vague and even foolish and many times they were beyond my control. Most of the time, I made resolutions because it was what everyone did at the start of a new year but did not do much at all to achieve them throughout the year, sometimes I did nothing at all because some of my resolutions were more like wishes than goals. After a while, I got tired of writing lists of stuff it seemed I would never accomplish. I got discouraged and moved on.


          As an adult, I haven't been much for making resolutions. Instead, when I want to accomplish something, I work on that. Sometimes. And sometimes I just make lists in my head and never get stuff done. So, this year, I have decided to try something new. I have decided on several general areas that I would like to improve on this year but will not make specific resolutions. I am not yet sure what working towards improvement in each area will look like. I plan to take it day by day, trying things, evaluating, and changing what doesn't work.

Relationship with God:

            My first area of focus this year is my relationship with God/ knowledge of Scripture. I have started by making daily prayer a priority in my life again. I had gotten too busy with the house and the kids and kind of let that go. I am now making sure to pray every day and have started to feel "off" on the days when I haven't made prayer a priority. Not only do I set aside some time to be alone with God but I am also in constant communion with god, praying while cleaning, nursing, etc. Prayer is so important as it keeps us connected to God and it is through prayer that we can seek His guidance in everything we do. I feel so much better when I am living in communion with my God. I am now also doing a Bible study on the book of Esther with a group of friends and plan to do some daily Bible reading on my own as well. It is very important to me to set a good example for my children. We have started saying bedtime prayers together every night (more for Daniel's sake than Joshua's) and have been reading one story each in their English and Spanish children's Bibles as well. Life is busy around here and I am far from perfect so this may not work out perfectly but this is where I am and what I am working on right now.

Marriage:

          Another area of focus for me is my marriage. Having two very young children can put strain on any marriage. I breastfeed and we co-sleep and are trying to practice positive discipline/ grace based parenting so time is a rare commodity around here. Especially time alone to recharge and time to spend together as a couple. We have our fair share of struggles and I know that I need to improve in many areas just as my husband does too. I have started by reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian and praying a chapter a day for the month of January. I believe that, even though we must recognize our faults and want to change in order to do so, prayer is still of utmost importance. God can transform a dead marriage into a loving one, I have seen His power myself, and He can open your husband's eyes to the faults he needs to work on.

         But I haven't just been praying for my husband, but also for myself. I need to change just as much, if not more than he does. I am working on being more patient, understanding, and gentle with him. I also working on better communication on my part and hoping he does the same on his part. I am trying to learn how to support my husband and give him the respect he needs. It is hard because I am so exhausted when he gets home and just want him to handle the kids and give me a break, but I am trying. I am also trying to help us make time for us, to be friends again like when we first met. I would like us to have fun together once again, even if all we do is talk after the boys go to sleep (but right now that is so late that he usually falls asleep before I even lay down and I pass out immediately after).

Mothering:

          Then, of course, I'd like to focus on my mothering. This is an area that necessitates A LOT of my attention at the moment. My children are still very young and I am just learning how to be a mom and how to be a gentle mother at that. It is really difficult. I am not the most patient person. Some people say I'm pretty patient but I don't feel that I am. It is hard spending long days alone with two kids under 3, constantly needing my attention, nursing both on demand (which ends up being a HUGE part of my day), hardly having time for myself and having no adult interaction on days we stay at home. Gentle/positive/ grace based discipline takes a lot of dedication also. This is not the way I was parented so it is all new to me. I have to try to read books, articles, blogs, etc (as if I'm not already short on time!) and I have to be willing to ask questions and even to bare my faults and imperfections to others in order to improve. It is hard to move away from yelling, spanking, etc when that is all you know, but I am willing to do the hard work to become a better mom to my children, they deserve it!

          I am trying to journal regularly and hopefully process some things in my past so that I can change my tendency to react negatively. I also have a few books that I would like to make time to read. Some I may read and discuss with my group of friends once we are done our Esther, and then Ruth Bible studies. As for now, I began with taking one step from Little Hearts/ Gentle Parenting Resources' 12 Steps to Gentle Parenting each month this year. This is a great read for anyone new to gentle discipline. January's step is to slow down. Being in a rush to get ready and get out of the house to time sensitive activities early in the morning with two boys who go to bed late is stressful. I find that we have better days and all remain calmer when we are not in a rush and can relax a little so I decided to cut back some on Daniel's classes at our local resource center. The choice of which classes to cut out was made easy by the fact that Daniel doesn't like one of the teachers and acts up around her. So we are down to one class a week, plus my Bible study that starts tomorrow and I will leave the other days open for now, experiment with different types of play dates/ outings,  and see how it goes.

         Of course, I am also praying for my mothering and my relationship with my children. Ultimately, I would love to have more patience, be more gentle in my responses, and be more present with my children. I am struggling to find the balance between keeping more of an online presence on this blog and the Facebook page and spending unplugged time with my children, playing, reading, and just really being with them, but I will be taking it a day at a time.

My Past/ Gratitude:

          And, this year, I will also focus on processing, working through and letting go of past hurts and traumas that are affecting my present and I am working on forgiveness. The only way to change some of the dynamics in my present relationships is to get over the things in my past that are holding me back. I am starting with prayer and journaling and will see where that leads. I am also working on cultivating an attitude of joy and gratitude. I try to think of  and thank God for something I am thankful for each day, even if it is something small. I will be starting a thankfulness jar this year. i will write down good things as they happen and place them in a nicely decorated mason jar and then I will go back and read them on New Year's Eve. I am slacking on this one, I have thought of the good things in my head but have not written anything down or even decorated the jar!

Personal Goals:

          I also have many other, personal areas of focus I need to work on. There is my online Montessori class that I need to catch up on and, hopefully, stay caught up. I also need to work on implementing Montessori activities at home with Daniel a little more regularly (which should be easier if we are home more). Plus, I would like to focus a little more of my time to this blog and its growth. But these are areas that I will work on slowly and when possible. My main focus this year will be on my relationships with God, my husband, and my children.

          Life is messy, I may take one step forward and two steps back, but that is okay. I am not looking to merely check things off of a list, I am working towards lasting growth. I will count any progress as a success and work on showing myself, my husband, and my children grace along the journey. I don't know what that journey will look like, but one thing I do know is that none of us will be magically transformed overnight. It may take months, or even years, to get to where we want to be and that is totally okay since my goal is just to see improvement in my areas of focus, not total perfection. As long as our relationships are improving, progress is being made, and grace is in place, at the end of the year, I can say that we have accomplished our goal!






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