Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What I Learned From the Hardest Part of (my) 2015

If someone other than me were to review my year last year, documents in hand—bills, journals, appointments, photos, mail— in order to determine what was my hardest part of last year… Well, I think that person would most certainly get it wrong. 

There was a month last year where I spent 40+ hours in doctor’s offices and hospital rooms. Most of those hours were spent slowly cracking open pistachio nuts, stacking coins, and testing eye shadow on three little boys in the most tedious form of survival known to moms: waiting with small children. 

Technically speaking, finding out the twins have hemophilia was hard. It turns out that when something, anything is wrong with your child you go through a grieving process, so there’s that. But as I was feeling all the feels about the boys’ futures and simultaneously having heart attacks about managing the physical needs of 3 boys in my home (AKA: lots and lots of cussing and running about and freaking out last year as I was adjusting to what is safe and what’s not for hemophiliacs), there was also just some bad luck for the boys and more blood loss and more bad pricks and more trips to the specialists and those five awful days Alistair didn’t walk — and just when I didn’t think I could handle one more hospital trip for Factor 8 treatments, they stopped just like that. 

But this season of learning about hemophilia and taking it on as our new normal was not the dark spot in my year.  Yes, it was hard in the sense that I felt knocked about in rapid succession for a couple months. But there was something markedly different about this than the actual worst pat of my year last year. 

My actual worst part of my year was right around Thanksgiving. I can’t put a rubber band around the stack of those days. I don’t know when it started or when it ended. And when I was in it, it really shouldn’t have been that hard. 

Paul was traveling less than he had been.  We were truly in the groove of homeschooling—getting everything done and having some fun too. Thomas’s reading had just exploded, reading almost everything he came across. And our trips to the hospital for the twins had taken a hard pause. 

But I felt out of control. The slow work of teaching the twins to talk felt grueling. The task of disciplining three very different children felt exhausting. The days seemed to once again feel not so fresh at start…but rather a continuation of an uphill battle. 

So it was that my worst part of my year was when I found myself coasting.  The worst grades I earned in college were from the easiest classes I took. If I’m not pushing myself hard, I crumble. I have to have push goals and big dreams and things outside of the everyday to make the leap from just okay to joyful.  

Here are my take aways after climbing out of my limping, lacking whiny month last year:

  1. I have to do hard things. If I’m not enduring something hard outside of my choice, I need to find something hard and bring it toward me. I like big goals. I like doing and making and achieving. Coasting = death.
  2. What is in my control? What is outside of it? I need to focus nearly all of my attention on the things that I can do and accept the rest.  When I have shifted to what I can’t control, I’ve really stumbled.  And my goodness, there are so many things about life we can’t control.  But there’s an infinite number of things we can do. Locus of control. That’s where I want my eyes firmly fixed this year.
  3. We are vulnerable after big accomplishments.  We are vulnerable after finishing hard things.  There’s a gap there where our energy was. It needs filled with lots of new excitement for something else. But, for me, that means thinking just a bit about new goals. It means planning and dreaming right after the finish line. Not just resting and doing nothing, but resting in visualizing new things. 

I see the difference now.  Hard things that were not hard for me: Lots and lots of travel weeks in the beginning of the year. Hemophilia crash course this summer. Being homeschool newbies this fall. These should have been hard, but they weren’t because with each thing there was something I was fighting for. 

Financial freedom

My children’s health & happiness

And all the books now open doors for my firstborn

Hard things are not hard with clear purpose.  Heavy work is made light by the hope in our hearts. 

What are you fighting for?

What heavy work are you ready to make light? 


  1. Well, this has me thinking!! Which is the mark of a great blog post, and why I love blogs so much! What am I fighting for? To get my book from my brain into words people can actually make sense of. With a combination of learning a whole new skill (writing for print), added to my ad/hd and now menopause fogbrain (not its a thing), this task is even more difficult. I AM ready though to dig in and through prayer and perseverance make it light! Thank you Ashley for the encouragement !!! p.s. did you know that Catholic Singer, Matt Maher is a hemophiliac ?

    1. I definitely did not know that Matt Maher is a hemophiliac. You learn something new every day. :)

  2. Oh I love this. Because I needed you to put into words that coasting makes me lazy and antsy. And that I want the challenges I bring to myself even if that means I won't have time for the cleanest house and the best meals and the best haircut. Busy-ness and hard work make me better. And I'm fighting for balance right now between slowing down enough to enjoy my children while they're still little and throwing myself into another group that wants my skills and time.

    1. That balance of the soft and the hard is so tough. So tough. I think we all struggle with that!

  3. In a season where I've bemoaned hard things and made easy things harder on myself, thank you for the reminder that my hard work is for a purpose! And also, pretty sure you've earned your "big leagues" mom badge for all you went through in 2015!

    1. Haha. Yes! I make the easy things difficult too!! One word: S O C K S. They should be innocuous but they are the death of me here.