Carrie has four daughters and runs Write On! Workshops--a summer writing camp for children.

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One Little Word for 2014

one little wordZero January blues today. I love the new year.  Part of the excitement comes from choosing one little word to carry with me. It is a lot easier than resolutions because, unlike resolutions, my one little word can’t be broken. It is also quite adaptable. If I eat the doughnut, use the credit card, or still don’t organize the garage, my one little word doesn’t abandon me.

Some years, it has taken me well into January before I found it. But this year it seemed to be standing right there next to the New Year’s ball waving at me.

Like words of the past, it is nothing grand–but just feels right. And that is saying something because, as of late, not a lot has felt right. I joke (but not really) that I used to know something about parenting. I even used to write blogs where I (sort of) gave parenting advice. But from where I sit right now, my confidence is waning.

It’s because of my teenagers. As they stand between childhood and adulthood, I don’t know how to parent them anymore. How much is theirs? How much is mine? When do I help and when do I let go? Is it okay if they don’t want to go sledding on New Year’s Day with their cousins? Do we give them an allowance? What if they drop the school play? Should we help them buy a car? Things I was sure of I am not so sure of anymore. It feels like the constellation of our family we had grown so used to has now rearranged itself and I don’t know where we all shine anymore. I need some serious help. Or at the least a serious word. That is why I guess I am so eager to sign up for this one.

The word is steady.

When I get overwhelmed I lose perspective. My husband calls it my “spin cycle” and that is where I fear I am headed right now. Hence, steady may be just the word I need.  I might not know everything about this new stage of life, but may be holding steady to the things that have gotten us through so far are a good idea.

Things like:

Family dinner

Family prayer

Listening to Harry Potter on long car drives.

Ice cream cones at night (my husband’s idea not mine.)

You know, the basics that keep us together.

 

I also need to hold steady to the things that keep me together. Things like:

Exercise.

Sleep.

Writing.

Date night.

Watching Pride and Prejudice. The long one.

I’m also thinking steady as in stay on solid ground. I tend to take on my girls’ worries as if they belong to me. I had a dream last night I was starting on a new volleyball team and I didn’t know any of the other players. (That would be daughter #2.) I have a hard time focusing on grading papers because I am so nervous for auditions. (That would be daughter #1.) I carry around weekend plan worries as if I am 15 years old. (At times that is daughters 1, 2, 3, and 4.) I haven’t quite considered this before, but what purpose can my worry serve purpose other than to magnify their own? Steady may help me to do better than that. Perhaps it can help me climb off this adolescent roller coaster and just watch my girls ride. Instead of sitting next to them, I can be the steady voice on the side assuring them that things really do work out. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if steady could also mean the word my girls use to describe my faith in them? Steady. It wasn’t easy, but mom knew I had it in me. It is how I feel. It’s just with this shifting constellation, I don’t know how to show it. Yet. But that is what I like about fresh starts.  If things really work out between me and this word the way I hope, maybe steady won’t be something I take on in 2014, but something I actually become.

For more ideas about one little word, see Ali Edwards.

More on Today’s Mama:

One Little Word 2013

One Little Word 2012

Don’t Judge Me by My Gear, I’m Still in the Game

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Comments (2)

  1. Emily 01/04/2014 at 6:05 pm

    Love the picture of your girls and your word. I need some steady in my life. Not sure that will ever happen. I’ll just come to you when I have more teens so you can tell me how to do it all, because I know you are doing an amazing job.

  2. Amy Allen Johnson 01/06/2014 at 11:00 pm

    Love it! I love your constellation analogy too. Beautiful girls and a beautifully thoughtful parent (you!) Thanks so much for sharing!