grateful for the things I’ve learned

2008 was not the easiest year of my life.  It wasn’t the hardest year, but it certainly wasn’t the easiest year.  However it was definitely a year of personal growth.  Wisdom always comes at a price, but despite the price, I still believe that wisdom is worth obtaining and that the events I experienced this year were worthwhile.

In this past year, I’ve become less of a know-it-all.  I KNOW that don’t know it all, especially when it comes to parenting.  I have days when I think I have royally messed up my daughters, and I fervently hope they turn out alright in the end.  But in my not-knowing, I have become more sympathetic to other mothers who are struggling to find the right answers for raising their children, too.  And in my heart of hearts, I think that my kids are normal and are going to turn out just fine.  Their hearts are turned towards Jesus, and that is the most important gift I can share with them.

I’ve learned that an uninterrupted night’s sleep is not a necessity for a cheerful outlook the following day.  Attitude really IS everything.  And someday, Curious J WILL sleep through the night.  My parents recently informed me that I did not sleep through the night until I was 3 years old.  With that perspective, Curious J is doing just fine.  (But is she decides to start sleeping through the night, I won’t object!)

I’ve learned that when push comes to shove, and I have no choice but to do by myself something that MUST be done, I WILL rise to the task, even when it comes to mothering during anxiety or mothering during the stomach flu or mothering alone as a single parent.  I’m stronger than I thought I was.

I’ve learned that anxiety always passes.  When I first started experiencing anxiety episodes, my biggest fear was that they would never end.  Now I know that they WILL end, and with that knowledge, it makes the anxiety easier to bear.  Plus, I’ve learned better ways to manage my anxiety, and I am grateful for that.

I’ve learned … so much from my children.  I cannot begin to say how much I’ve learned about myself and my own shortcomings by mothering and observing and interacting with my children.

I’ve been reminded that I married a good man.  In so many ways, I really DO have “a keeper.”

I’ve learned that you can continue to live for quite some time without cleaning the bathrooms, mopping the floors, or picking up the stuff that inevitably accumulates.  I’ve also learned that a healthy supper served later is better than an inhealthy supper served earlier.  That said, it’s better to have a healthy supper served earlier, and that is my goal for 2009.

I’ve learned that I really love blogging.  And through my own blogging as well as reading the blogs of others, I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this mothering journey.  I used to feel that I was unique, that no one else thought like me in the whole world.  For some reason, I found comfort and took pride in that.  However, with the realization that I’m just like everyone else, or as my husband puts it, “Emily, you’re so normal you don’t know how normal you are,” I’ve found great comfort and sense of community in being just like everybody else, in being “normal.”  Blogging has given me such a great gift in that it has given me peeks into the worlds of other mothers, making me feel less alone.

And, I’ve learned, once again, that God truly DOES make everything in my life work out for my good: the good choices, the bad choices, the happenstance, the purposeful, the occasional, the everyday, the highs, the lows, the surprises, the mundane — it all serves a purpose in my life.  I trust that no matter what I do, God will make it work out for my good.  I don’t always see how it is good, but if I look hard enough, often I can find some good coming out of everything.  I am grateful for a loving God who not only takes the threads of my life and turns them into a beautiful piece of cloth, but who also orchestrated my salvation from the beginning of the world and planned to make me his child.  I am so grateful, and I sincerely long for heaven when I’ll be free from the constraints of this sin-full world forever.

But until then, I am grateful to be here, here in this family with this husband and these daughters in this house at this time.  I am grateful for all of it.  And I look forward to another year filled with learning new things and enjoying God’s blessings in 2009.

I’ll end with a wonderful quote from C.S. Lewis that was written on my daily calendar for today:

There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.