My friend, Rob Daniels, asked me to make a list of three positives in my life. These Facebook trends are often interesting to read but it is easy to pay lip service to these sorts of challenges by writing a pithy 140 words. I decided to take a few days and really think about it.
1. Understanding myself
In the last few years, I have come to truly understand myself and what makes me be the best version of myself. This looks a lot different these days than it did seven years ago when I didn’t have kids and wasn’t expecting one, either.
Every day I need four things to feel balanced: physical work, intellectually stimulating reading, spiritual experiences and a certain amount of luxury.
At one point in my life, luxury meant eating the very best foods imaginable at every meal. Now I know that eating that way requires an enormous amount of work and clean up and the luxury of it is minimal; I only enjoy about 15 minutes of eating. For those fifteen minutes of luxury, it takes hours of prep and clean up. The balance is not there so it is not worth it to me. These days, luxury may look like a few bites of a high-quality chocolate bar, a trip to get my hair cut (that happens about twice a year!), a phone conversation with a dear friend or a decadent dessert picked up at a bakery.
Some days the physical work of managing a household like mine is overwhelming. I have come up with a schedule of certain tasks that need to be done every day and try to balance those throughout the week with lighter household duties like paying bills, picking up toys, dusting, etc.
Making time for spiritual reading, mental prayer and theological study every day also gives me a new, higher perspective that is usually edifying and encouraging.
2. Becoming the person my kids have made me
It would be easy to just say that having children is a positive in my life. After further examination, I would say that seeing the person I have become because of them is an enormous blessing. There was a point in my life when I only found pleasure and luxury in extraordinary things: seeing the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, eating in restaurants with Michelin stars, visiting places with amazing natural beauty, etc. The paucity of those experiences in my life these days makes me enjoy the little things: a clean, quiet house, an uninterrupted conversation with my husband, the beauty of the architecture in my own neighborhood, the experience of reading high-quality literature. Having kids has also made me do everything I can to cultivate a sense of community since I know that I depend on others more than when I lived a life sans children. That community has come together to support me in difficult times, like when I broke my foot. I also find a great deal of satisfaction in participating in their lives and supporting them.
3. Pope Francis
Our new Pope’s tone has been one of love and inclusion. I recently read the book that published his extensive interview given a few years ago. One thought (this is not word-for-word) has stuck with me. He says that God is always working in everyone’s life. Even if you think that person is a sinner, even if it seems that person is completely lost, God is working in that person’s life. This perspective has helped me enormously, especially as I make my way in a new culture and have a hard time seeing the face of The Lord in people who can be rude or abrupt in the way they deal with me and my children.