On New Years Eve I read a chapter in my Mitford novel and fell asleep by 10:30 pm. I know, with all these kids I really should be more responsible.
But then the whole house began shaking at midnight and I woke up very confused. I thought the Surry Power Plant had exploded and I couldn’t remember where I put the calendar that tells us what to do. There was a child in the bed crying and the house was lit up in all sorts of colors before I finally remembered, but not with enough cognition to form sentences:
New Years Eve. Fireworks. Zable Stadium. People cheering. Father Tim?
Welcome 2016. In like a Nuclear Power Plant.
Last week, I swept up the tree needles and packed away the inflatable and the ornaments, of which now 65% are broken or mangled. Sweet pictures of preschool faces and handprints and Elsa and Anna missing limbs are the themes that dominate our tree. I packed with more care for the few whole ornaments left and I got excited for a New Year.
I don’t usually make a lot of goals. But this year felt different. There are some milestones this year. I’ll be 35 which is a fake milestone that I’m so ready to get angsty about. I’ll have a ten year old by the end of this year. TEN. I’d be angsty about that if the joy of seeing her become weren’t so wondrous. But its been ten years since we landed back in Williamsburg. Ten years since I began this journey of parenting. I’m officially done being pregnant and one day soon plan on sleeping like it. I was all in for 2016 to be BIG. By January 2nd, I already planned out three books I was going to write, two organizations to join, and a public position to run for.
Then I heard the VOICE: Stay the course.
I didn’t think the VOICE was talking to me at first because I don’t speak nautical. But then I heard it again: Stay the course.
This is the Worst New Years Resolution Ever. Admit it, no one wants this goal.
I want to do something new. I want to start something. New things are just…shinier. As if they won’t requite the heavy lifting of these burdensome familiar tasks. Maybe I’ll get more credit, be less annoyed? Maybe it won’t be hard?
I’m in the fourth year of my Masters degree at Union Presbyterian Seminary. Each step has been affirming. But in a 5 year program, year 4 is hard. I’m far enough from the start that I’ve lost my beginners momentum but lack the adrenaline of the final push. Stay the course. As much as I would love join a new group, I’m already part of a church, neighborhood, and three school communities that would benefit from my presence more than those who have yet not met me. Stay the course. Those people I’ve committed myself to love and care for? They’re still here. Stay the course. The Christmas Cards I took a break from three days before Christmas that still need to be sent? I’m going to finish! You will get yours soon. Or in time for next year.
A lot of you are called to big changes this year. Go for it. Say the Big Yes. Take the leap. Shake things up. Do what you have been waiting to do, what you know it’s time for, or past time for.
But does anyone else need to join me in the Worst Resolution Ever? Are you already in school? Finish. Do you have a job? Get better at it. Are you married? Stay married. Keep parenting. Keep being a neighbor to your old neighbors and being a friend to your old friends. Love the people you already love deeper. Keep showing up at those places that expect you and contribute more. Trade out new projects for new habits – new habits to enable you to keep on keeping on. Stay the course.
Monday morning the kids went back to school, our street was lined with Christmas trees to be picked up by the city, and my brother and sister in law were in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia spending their first night with their new son. Only my brother would have timed the adopting of his child precisely with the United States premiere of the final season of Downton Abbey the night before. Selfish! He knows it’s that show and Mitford for me and we don’t have Apple TV. PBS in real time- it’s all I’ve got. And in five years they never learned to speak louder on that show. You have to concentrate. But I couldn’t. I was thinking about them meeting Ben face to face, after a year of growing to love him through pictures and paperwork.
They had flown to Beijjing and then to Hohhot and then upon meeting Ben, received the news of a required 5 hour drive deeper into Inner Mongolia to Bayan Nur to get his passport then a flight to Guangzhou and then Hong Kong before flying home. (I just act like I know where these places are, I’m clueless. Travis and I had a lengthy debate over the term “Inner Mongolia.” Yes that’s the full official name of the region. No, not like Northern Virginia. )
If you have ever witnessed or participated in adoption, you’ve seen and felt the tremendous fighting love necessary – the kind that breaks down walls and barriers and can out-wait any waiting. But there’s a severe commitment required- in vans deep in China, and for the long haul of integrating someone into your family. You can almost hear the community of followers inhaling and exhaling with each post of detour and victory, and do you know what we’re all whispering across the miles and time zones? Stay the course. Bring him home.
Happy New Year Friends. May we all welcome with joy whatever meets us on the road of 2016, be it glorious adventure or beautiful steady routine…