I am seriously pinching myself right now, y’all. At long last, it’s finally here. I have never been more eager to welcome in a new year. 2016 was such a challenge for our family. We bit off more than we could chew in a lot of ways (me doing the grad school thing, the hubs working 14-16 hour days on the regular), we tried to make things work in places that just weren’t good fits for us (almost buying a farmhouse in the suburban south when we clearly have nothing in common with southern suburbia), and we committed to countless activities that left us totally exhausted with very little left to give to our children and our marriage. We lost a baby this year. A baby that we had long been praying for. I’ve cried and cried at the lessons I’ve learned from the challenges we’ve faced, but now I’m done. It’s time for a new year.
If you’ve followed MM for a while now, you may remember last year’s New Year’s Initiatives. Well friends, I’ve revisited those, and I’m actually pleasantly surprised. My obsessive compulsive approach to life has me look closely at the previous year’s performance and channel those wins or opportunities into goals for next year, in the hopes that our family will continue to grow, and that I, as a wife and mother, will evolve alongside them. It turns out we actually did pretty well in 2016 in terms of sticking to our initiatives. And as a refresher (or to save you from reading the aforementioned post), I break these initiatives out into categories: homeschooling, kids, myself, marriage, and family. This lets me have a guiding force over the course of the year, which, when things go unexpectedly or when I feel overwhelmed or lost in my journey, I can look back at what I hoped to stand for and find some level of grounding. So in the spirit of moving forward, here’s my list of where we hope to go in the next 12 months, with a look at last year’s initiatives as well.
- Homeschooling: I want to go deeper into my kids’ interests while also recognizing their limits. I also want to do more measured learning, so we can keep track of how we’re doing and where we need to focus as the year goes on.
This was actually an AMAZING year for our homeschool. Last year I aimed to follow the kids’ interests and get out of the house more. I got more structured (even away from home), and by focusing on what they love, I actually got to learn that Celia is a pro at spelling and creative writing, and Cora is a scientist in-the-making. 2017 will be about indulging those interests with more focused curriculum that challenges them appropriately. I’ll also shoot for a few more assessments to be sure I’m giving them what they need.
- Kids: I’m going to say “no” more often.
This was an interesting one for me. Last year I aimed to show them more grace and let them learn and fail independently before I stepped in and took over. This year, I want to set boundaries for them. Recently, the hubs and I were snuggled up watching football when the kids came to us: “can you guys play with us in the basement?” Naturally, I started to get up when the hubs said “no. There are four of you. You guys can play together.” And they did. For hours. Lesson learned.
- Myself: I’m going to set appropriate limits and be mindful of my needs as a person.
Last year I decided to cultivate my own interests. I did that- but I basically approached it as a personal challenge to accomplish as much as I could in 12 months regardless of the cost to myself and my family. It was exhausting and demoralizing. Time for a change. This year I hope to spend more time being present in my life- starting by having time for myself every day. (Bonus points to me for saying “no” to the children so that I can do this. Two birds with one stone, y’all. I’m winning already.)
- Marriage: I’m going to devote time each week that is strictly spent with my hubs.
In 2016 I aimed to be a solid support for my husband. I didn’t realize at the time that meant going along with him interviewing for and accepting a position that would move our family 1500 miles across the country. Interestingly enough, after 5 years of swearing I would never live anywhere outside the South, I felt incredibly comfortable saying yes to this move, even when it meant living out of suitcases for 5 months. This year is a bit different. 2016 was also a year of long hours at work and longer hours sitting in traffic, which with my grad school efforts meant precious little time together. This cross-country move was as much about changing the type of work my hubs does as creating more time for us as a couple. So 2017 will be about enjoying shorter commutes and less demanding work while setting boundaries that allow us to enjoy our time together.
- Family: We’re going full-force on our alternative lifestyle.
2016 taught us what we aren’t. We spent a lot of the year trying to figure out how to differentiate ourselves from traditional white suburbia (and if you’re reading a blog called monogrammed mischief, chances are that in some way, you identify with white suburbia. I mean no offense dear friends). We hate consumerism. We have no interest in Christmas that’s celebrated with hoverboards and drones or birthdays that stretch out for months or vacations to Disney or 30A. Those things just aren’t for us. So 2017? We’re starting by moving into a new home that’s just 2,000 sq. feet (that’s 1,000 less than our previous digs, and less than half the size of the homes we grew up in). We’re ditching our big box options by moving into a community in the middle of revitalization- with lots of local merchants and farmers markets. We’re also moving to a place where organized churches that fit our beliefs are few and far between. So we’ll be cultivating friendships in new and unconventional ways. This will be hard, but we’re open to it.
We’re kicking off 2017 with what we’ve determined is the 7th corporate relocation for us in 10 years. And this is the first move that I’ll be making as a stay-at-home parent, which means no built-in network of friends for me. I’m realizing that I’ll have to be open to meeting people where they are and trusting that we are going where we’re led, which means our needs will be met, even in ways we don’t expect. My favorite time in my life has been the beginning of our marriage, when we lived in Nashville- away from family and the life I knew, but where we found dear friends and grew closer to one another and our God by leaning into discomfort and trusting the path. I’m excited for us to do this again. I thought Atlanta, with its closeness to home and family, would be the final destination for our family, but I’m happy for us to close this chapter and leave it behind. We learned a lot- mostly that comfort zones can be suffocating, and that often times growth happens when you open yourself to new places and new ideas, and when you give yourself time and space to do that. Here’s hoping we do that in 2017.
Happy New Year,