I am a list maker. I make to-do lists for every area of my life, from work to chores. If I complete a task that wasn’t on my list, I add it to my list, then check it off.
Outside of prepping to be on leave from work, I’ve got a to-do list of other commitments that I’m wrapping up before December, including research with the Fuller Youth Institute and curriculum for my church. Then I’ve got to bribe some of my students to clean my house this winter, finally donate that pile of stuff at the top of my stairs, and finish our guest room.
A while ago, a wise friend encouraged me towards self-care over this fall. “Having a baby is an experience, not an event,” she told me. And in that moment, I knew she was articulating something that had been swirling around murkily in my heart.
I had put “having a baby” at the bottom (because it’s chronological) of my to-do list, below “create check lists for temp at work,” “buy bed for guest room,” and “4 weeks of lessons for church.” I have felt anxious to complete all my tasks–check, check, check–and then expected that somehow I’d get to that bottom item and feel calm, excited, and prepared.
Some part of me sensed that this was not a good plan, that I risked running right into December at a pace that would allow for nothing more than skidding to a stop on my due date.
I wonder how many times we have something in our lives that we’d like to slow down and savor, but instead we experience it not unlike scarfing fast food in the car.
So I’ve begun to create space for the experience. Last weekend, for instance, we went to the beach (because it was 90 degrees on Oct. 27), I tested not one, but two recipes from Pinterest, and I did what I hardly ever want to do–made a craft.
Generally, I make about one craft per year, and that is usually because my crafty best friend wants to and comes up with it and brings all the supplies and shows me how.
But I figured out how to make a word banner for Riley’s nursery, so I used that same strategy for the mantle, writing ‘thankful.’ And then I consciously listed to myself several things I was grateful for.
As a kid, I prayed a lot of thank you prayers, and I always knew what stuff belonged on the list–house, food, school, parents. That pre-set list has become ingrained in me, but sometimes it can rein in in my gratitude.
Now I’m trying to have a bit of unbridled gratitude. For pumpkin in baked goods, for really good health insurance, for a clean house–thanks to my students, for little silly things. And I believe that, come December, it’ll be a little easier to be attuned to and thankful for the experience of becoming a family of three.