It is the 30th of December and I am driving 47 miles east to a quaint bed & breakfast in a tiny, quiet town. Upon arrival, I am greeted by a man named Paul and taken to room 11, where I promptly turn on the fireplace and unload my New Year supplies. Wheel of Intention: check. Reflect + Reset workbook: check. Planner, journal, bible, laptop. Check, check, check, check.
I take a deep breath as I plop on the bed and kick off my boots. Breaking open a bag full of fruity chew candy, I say a quick prayer over my time, and get down to business.
This is no ordinary work retreat.
I am here to plan the next year of my life—to set goals upon goals upon goals. I am going to choose a word for the year and set my intentions, reflecting on the past year and identifying positive changes to make. I am going to leave this place inspired! Proactive! Ready to roll!
High on optimism and impending productivity, I write until my hand cramps.
Do more yoga.
Drink more water.
Host 12 dinner parties.
Complete my Write the Word journal.
Weekly dates with Brett.
Read more, write more, try a hip-hop class.
Be a present mom.
I make list after list—dutifully recording everything I am grateful for from the previous year, favorite accomplishments, greatest unexpected joys, hard lessons I’ve learned. I set intentions for my physical health, my mental health, my spiritual health, and feel wholly confident in my ability to actually achieve these things. With a self-assured smile stretched across my face, I drive 47 miles home on December 31, my mind full of moxie and my belly full of scrambled eggs.
The next morning my feet hit the floor, determined and unstoppable.
Let’s do this, 2018.
It has been one year since I sat in that hotel room with a list of goals in front of me and a charcoal face mask tingling my skin. I recently pulled those sheets out and felt a mixture of pride and disappointment at everything I did and did not do in 2018.
I went to 28 yoga classes, which isn’t worth bragging about but is more than I did in 2017. I think I drank more water? I did not host 12 dinner parties, but in my defense: we moved into a fixer-upper in the spring and I spent half the summer in bed sick from pregnancy. My Write The Word journal is 75% completed, but not finished. I’m pretty sure Brett and I went on a total of four dates in all of 2018, and one of those ended with both of us getting food poisoning so perhaps we should call it three? I read more, but I didn’t write more. I did go to a hip-hop class.
Be a present mom … what can I say? I tried.
There were other highlights of course: the ten speaking gigs, the fixer-upper projects, the photography sessions I took on to help pay for said fixer-upper projects. We launched something new, the podcast hit a million downloads, our book made another debut at Target. I’m sure if I sat here long enough, I could list off another dozen moments of “success.”
Ironically, that’s not the tally I’m taking this New Year’s. Not even close. In fact, the thing I’m most proud of from 2018? Our August sabbatical. Perhaps the greatest thing I did last year wasn’t something I “did” at all, but rather something I learned.
You see, 2018 was a year of unbecoming for me.
It was the year I realized I am more than a walking, talking, breathing list of accomplishments.
This New Year’s, I am 34 weeks pregnant. While everyone around me is busy choosing words for 2019 and setting intentions and scribbling their goals on beautifully lined Rifle Paper Co. notebooks, I am packing a hospital bag.
I thought it would be difficult to resist the temptation to join my fellow goal-setters, but this may be where I can see God’s greatest work in me this past year. I am normally a doer, classic type-A, a three on the Enneagram through and through. I have one mode: Be Productive Or Bust. You know the feeling you get when you set out to do something, and then you actually do it? I’m known for chasing that euphoria, 24/7.
And this is how I know God has done something wild in me in 2018. Because it is New Year’s Day and instead of getting high on goals and to-do lists, I am sitting in what will be our little girl’s nursery folding tiny baby clothes. More than that: I feel total and complete peace with what I am doing right now.
I have spent much of the past year untethering myself from a constant pursuit of achievements. It has been an emotionally exhaustive process—the work of regularly reminding myself I am loved for who I am and not for what I accomplish. Only by the grace of God am I starting to believe this truth.
And it is because of that truth that I can embrace this truth: some years are for goal-setting and dreaming big dreams, and some years are not.
The old me can’t believe the new me is saying this out loud, but here we go: I am having a baby in 2019 and for that reason, I am not setting a single goal or resolution for the year.
I am not resolving to read more books or write more essays or eat more vegetables. I am not resolving to lose the baby weight or fit into my pre-baby jeans or get the book proposal in my head down on paper. I am not resolving to be a better wife or a better friend or to cook more homemade meals.
In 2019, I want to bring my baby girl home and I want to enjoy her. I want to lay on the couch while she sleeps on my chest and give praise to God for this daughter I have wanted all my life. I want to stare at her more than I stare at a laptop. I want to read her face, her mood, her everything, more than I read emails. I want to find more joy and contentment and fulfillment in being her mom than I do in crossing things off my to-do list.
She is my last baby.
I will not waste this.
Because as much as I love my job, and I do love my job, I love my children more. But can I confess something to you? My actions and behavior don’t always reflect this truth.
The last time I had a newborn in my arms, I had an iPhone practically glued to my hand. The last time I laid in a hospital bed after giving birth, my body bled with a laptop within reach. Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see now—four years later—how desperate I was to prove to everyone in my life and everyone on Instagram that I could do it all and be it all. I could be a new mom and run a website. I could breastfeed and e-mail at the same time. I could work and fit into my skinny jeans and take adorable flat lays of my baby next to my computer, Lean In style.
I spent the first year of my second baby’s life chasing a dream and growing a business, and while I’m beyond grateful for how that panned out, this is also true: I will never ever get that time back. And as any third-time momma will tell you, babies don’t keep. I have never been more aware of time slipping through my fingers than I am in this moment, on this new year’s.
She is my last baby.
Lord, please oh please don’t let me waste this.
Baby girl, I pray you always chase your biggest dreams. I hope you grow up to be a hard worker and a generous steward of the creative gifts God has woven into your DNA. But more than that: I pray you always remember who you are, and Whose you are. Take it from your momma, who is still learning this lesson at 32 years old: You’ve got nothing to prove.