Every Labor Day at my mom’s cabin, we unhinge the ladder from the dock, pull the boats from the water, and say goodbye to the lake—the lake I love, the lake the girls love—and I feel that familiar swell of melancholy as I realize another year has gone by.
In the last two weeks I’ve read a number of blog posts about the way time seems to be accelerating. Our children—who just yesterday were babies for God’s sake—are going to school, carving out space for themselves in the wider world. Our time with them at home, under the same roof, is finite.
These thoughts and words have been weighing on me. This probably has something to do with the fact that Zoë has crossed into the world of kindergarten, and Stella, my preemie, is on the cusp of double-digits. In just a week she will be ten. How did my three-pounder get so big? So tall? So confident? How did it happen so fast?
The last two years have been very busy for me. I was working full time and teaching and leading retreats as I launched Use Your Words, and that was a whirlwind. But even last year, when my grant-writing position was reduced to halftime, life didn’t slow down. I didn’t slow down. I had to pick up extra work in order to make ends meet, and then Ready for Air was in production, etc. etc. I could go on and on of course, but I promise I won’t (because that would be incredibly boring.) The point is that I was always harried, always rushed, and often at my computer, even when I was supposed to be with my family. That’s not how I want to live.
I still have too much on my plate. But the work will get done—it just will. I know that. So instead of sneaking away to write one more e-mail as my daughters watch an afternoon television show, I’m going to try to log off each day before I leave to meet Stella and Zoë at the bus stop. I want to really enjoy my girls during those long afternoons we have together. I want to cuddle with them and read with them, explore the neighborhood, and laugh, really laugh.
In a recent blog post, Katrina Kenison wrote that parenthood is “an ongoing education in the art of living joyfully.” I love that, which to me means: take time to appreciate each phase, each day; laugh often; love fiercely. Open yourself up to joy. Cultivate it.
That’s my goal.
How do you cultivate joy in your life?