When Life is More Than a Number

A couple years ago, Goodreads introduced a “Reading Challenge” feature. You could set a reading goal and it would track your achievement. The first year, I set a goal of 52 books and exceeded it by 30. I had never tracked my reading before and the overachiever in me was thrilled. Look! I’m such an amazing reader!!

unnamed-1Last year, I again set the goal of 52 books and just baaaaarely made it. Like, I powered through a couple books in December, since my type-A personality was cringing at the thought of not making my goal.

This year, I again set the goal of 52 books. Goodreads tells me I’m falling behind. We’re over halfway through the year, and I’m just at the halfway mark for my goal.

At first, I got a bit stressed about this. If only the girls were a bit more independent. I’d totally reach my goal!

The moment that thought crossed my mind, I laughed. When I was teaching, I read for book club and perhaps a few more books but I would come home tired and ready to veg. When Bea was Elle’s age, I was knee-deep in newborness and figuring out life as a mom and I doubt I had much reading time. And now with two? Life is all the crazier and I have to be all the more intentional about taking time to do what I love.

Perhaps I need to take the challenge off of Goodreads. If reading becomes a goal or just a number, what’s the fun of that? Am I reading to learn, to get lost in a story, or to make sure I’ve checked that number?

I guess my Goodreads goal is quite indicative of my life right now. What was easy pre-kids became tougher with Bea but I learned to make it manageable. What was manageable with just one became even more challenging with two, but I’m learning.

I’m learning to stop and set aside numbers and simply watch and be present with these fast-growing girls.

I’m learning to take time for me and not to feel guilty about that.

I’m learning again about the ebb and flow of seasons. That school will start and we’ll be in a whole new phase and rhythm.

I know that in a blink, Elle will be in school. Perhaps I’ll go back to full-time work. Perhaps life will again be challenging and reading will be squeezed into the margins. And then the girls will get older and even more independent and reading will look different. And I’ll wonder, was the reading goal the most important thing?

I’m learning to prioritize books. Now, I judge books before I read them, knowing that I only have a small amount of time. In some ways, that’s been cool – I’ve read more 5-star books than normal, probably because I’m looking for books I know will resonate with me.

unnamed-1 (1)As a family we’re learning. We take short, fun hikes rather than intense long ones. One day, we’ll be able to increase the mileage but for now, we’re teaching a love of nature and the outdoors, an eagerness to get up and get on the trail. At the same time, Frank is hiking a 45-mile trek right now and all Bea can dream about is the day she’ll be able to join him on a “marathon hike.”

We’re learning that, while our goals look different, it’s so important to model our loves for the girls. If I got discouraged and just didn’t read; If Frank stopped doing days-long hikes until it was easier, would our girls want to emulate that?

We’re still figuring it out, and it’s still hard not to define myself with a number, but I’m learning the balance and fleeting nature of these seasons. One day, I’ll have all the time in the world to read and set reading goals, but I have a feeling those numbers won’t even matter by then.

What is something that you prioritize? How has that changed as life’s seasons change? Have you ever gotten caught up with a number?

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6 thoughts on “When Life is More Than a Number

  1. I hear you on the goals and putting check marks (even mental ones) for “done!”. So many things that are well intentioned can become less so when our lives take turns and there will always be turns. My reading, especially, but even my art has been through periods of being on hold or greatly reduced because of the seasons you mention. It’s funny what our children will notice when we thought they weren’t paying attention at all. Good and not so good 😉

    1. Finding that balance, right? It’s weird to think that these intense seasons will pass and then I’ll most likely long for them fondly… Ah, learning to be content!

  2. Oh, yes. I’ve allowed a number to define me, or at least try to, before. I love your take on all of this, Annie. You’re learning the rhythm of motherhood, prioritizing things in their order of importance. I love that at the top of your list is what you and Frank model for the girls. I haven’t signed up for that Goodreads goal because I don’t want to feel the pressure of having to meet a goal and then falling short. Life has been so crazy this year. I just read as I’m able, and I’m okay with that…mostly. I wish I had a little more time. 🙂 But, I’m learning how to prioritize to fulfill callings God’s give me. No matter what the world tells us, we can not do it all. 🙂

    Great post, friend!

    1. Thanks! I always could use more time…. 😉 Isn’t it funny how we view certain seasons – and how other seasons always seem easier. (“When the girls are xxx-age, life will be easier…”) Learning to love this moment!

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