I started off this year with a delightful houseful of family guests, and their departure was followed immediately by Aaron’s departure to work for three days on a remote island. For three days, I parented on my own, got my son back into the routine of school after several weeks off, and tried to get my kids back to a normal bedtime after a week of falling asleep at midnight with their much older cousins. Aaron returned from work with a brutal chest cold that left him with chills and a poisonous mood. Somehow in all of that, I managed to find a quiet evening to reflect on the last year and the new year, and thankfully, a word bobbed to the surface of my mind, like a cork.
The word was NURTURE.
This word is so perfect for our 2013 that it actually sings to me.
My youngest child is turning 2 next month. I know that this year most likely holds his weaning and his potty training. This means that sometime this year for the first time in 8 years, we will no longer have a baby in our family. For the first time in 8 years, there will be no diapers, no night waking (ok, realistically, there will still be some, but there will be considerably less night waking with the direct result being a drastic improvement in my quality of life), no more breastfeeding. This is monumental. This is me saying goodbye to childbearing. This is our family moving on from baby days. This is me reclaiming some autonomy as a person, not just as a physical baby grower and tender. This is my last baby becoming physically independent: walking, talking, eating, and using the toilet on his own. This is us entering a new season.
Yet, none of this is here yet. It is only on the horizon. Now is the time to nurture myself in preparation for the unfolding that will happen next year and the following years when I will have the freedom to explore some of my interests. This is a time to explore what my own hopes and wants and needs are so that when that new season arrives, I will be ready to begin.
This is the year to nurture my last baby as he begins all of these tasks of making the final physical separations, to hold him tenderly as he becomes more independent, to honour the slow start-and-stop process that his weaning will likely be, and for me, to cherish the few remaining days, not just of his babyhood, but of babyhood in our family.
This year, 2013, is the year my daughter begins Kindergarten so this is a time to nurture her growing independence and to respect and honour her needs and emotions when that process feels frightening and overwhelming.
Lastly, we have many projects that need nurturing before they will blossom. We have our family business to tend, our partnership at the farm to develop, our cabin to finish, our yard and garden to cultivate. There is all that and more in our lives that is ready for nurturing.
In this moment I see so much of our family life just like the seedling pictured above. We have planted all of these seeds, and we have watered, and we have waited, and now, the first tentative sprouts are peeking above ground. Now is not the time to forget them, to become busy and distracted. Now is the time for tenderness, for love, for attention, for caring, for forgiveness, for grace, for nurturing.
Before I sign off, I wanted to share a couple of posts I came across while working through my annual reflection. Some of the things I’d like to do to nurture myself come from this great list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep (though I think it might be a bit much to try to implement all of them at once) and there are some great ideas for nurturing that come from the graphic at the top of this post on giving depth and holding power to resolutions.
And now, tell me: What could you nurture in your life this year?