because i get constantly get phone calls from school telling me he tried to stab a teacher with a pencil or that he tried to cut himself with a pencil sharpener blade or that he’s mad and can i calm him down. because he asks me so many questions and has so many issues and arguments that by 7:00 p.m. i can’t even remember what i did earlier on in the day. because he goes to school every day and his best friend is his teacher. because his remorse and sadness is sometimes too much for my weary heart. because every day i’m pretty sure God could have chosen someone better. because i spend all day frustrated and all night feeling guilty. because i’m at a loss for how to help my child. because in this captured moment, my heart melts, and i can set aside my fears and frustrations and simply see a human being…loving his cousin…needing desparately to be loved. and i’m pretty sure God gave him to me more for my sake than vice versa.
I’m sitting by the fire in my pajamas at 11:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Everyone is sleeping or gone. The smallest tinge of wistful sadness has settled in with the quieting of the house as I look back over the course of this year. There is a sense of finality with the passing of 2016…another year gone, completely unretrievable. My oldest will soon be driving on his own, we have no more babies in our home, and I am quickly approaching 40. Time seems to pass like a hurricane through my raking fingers and I am left gasping and grasping after something that refuses to be caught.
But my sadness is not over the passing of time, nor over the approach of teenagers or mid-life (as I am enjoying both). Rather it is a sadness over the ways that I have failed to encapsulate and cherish every moment of the last year. I grieve all of the times that irritability presided over gratitude. I regret every moment that I rushed through and missed, moments that will never be recovered. I especially and deeply mourn every unkind and impatient word I’ve wasted on my children (and there are many). In my mind, I so badly want to suck the marrow out of life and slowly savor every last bit but I so often fail to live this way.
I recognize the irony. With this being New Year’s Eve, it would be the perfect time to resolve to do things differently next year. But the fact of the matter is, I know that I won’t. I will make the same mistakes. I will fail…and succeed…and fail again. However, lest I be mistaken for a brooding pessimist, allow for a clarifcation. This cycle, in my humble opinion, is in fact the very essence of life and I believe it to be exceedingly beautiful. Life is a compilation of moments: heartaches and joys, peaks and valleys, tragedies and triumphs. Yet, when standing nose to nose with life, it is not always readily apparent which are the successes and which are the failures. It is foolish to bask in the glory of freshly fallen sparkling snow, and then curse the very same when it turns to sludge. So often, our darkest moments become our greatest success stories.
This is why I do not resolve to do anything differently in 2017. Rather, I resolve to do the same thing day-in and day-out, year after year. I resolve to accept defeat and success with gratitude, knowing that both are changing and shaping me. I resolve to put my best foot forward every morning, recognizing that my best may look different one day to the next. I resolve to accept the snow and the sludge, the sun and the sunburn, the rain and the flood (although I know I will not always accept them gracefully). Ultimately, I resolve to always struggle…to fall down and get back up and fall and get back up. It might take me a while to find my feet again, but I will get there…eventually. For it is in the struggle that we are strengthened and made whole. I wish you all good strength and a great journey…Happy New Year!