For as long as I can remember, I’ve made elaborate plans for each new year.
Call them what you will – resolutions, goals, plans – they’re always far-reaching, ambitious, and set down long in advance of the new year.
I’ve always figured that this was normal, at least inasmuch as I can be normal. I’ve certainly never gotten meta enough to analyze why I plan like this, why I am so drawn to elaborate year-long plans.
But then our foster son left our home in July and I threw myself (unseasonably) into planning for the preschool year. Every spare moment – which, admittedly, is not many in a home that was still inhabited by three children under the age of three – but every spare moment was spent researching preschool activities, synthesizing my previous notes on the topic, and developing our customized Prairie Elms Preschool plan.
It was then that I began to realize the role that planning plays in helping me to cope when daily life seems out of my control.
I could have gone through my days as normal, feeling the hole that his departure left in the day to day. I could have attempted to deaden our loss with any number of things – but what I chose was planning. Particularly, planning for the children we had left – the children I knew would still be in our house.
Then we opened our home again. We started Prairie Elms Preschool and I was busy doing all the “new baby in the house” things. I had no time for extensive planning – and no desire for it either. Now was time to work the plan.
Until winter set in.
The nights grew long and the days grew dark and I no longer had energy to work the plan that had been working so well.
The house was cleaner than it had been in past years – but it was not kept to my summertime standards. I still put meals on the table. I still got the children clothed and changed. I kept up on washing the laundry, but one basket of clean-but-unfolded laundry quickly turned into four. I felt out of control.
And my mind started drafting plans for 2019. Plans for how I’d restart all those things that had been working so well for me until the days got gray. Plans for how I’d begin new things, build on what had been working. Plans for how I’d try ambitious new things.
That’s when I realized that my New Year’s plans were more than simply an escapist coping technique. They’re also an act of faith.
When November hits and I barely feel like I can get out of bed, much less accomplish something, making plans is a way I say to myself, “It won’t always be this way.”
I don’t have energy now, but I will have energy again.
I’m not accomplishing much right now, but I will accomplish something again some day.
The days are getting shorter now, but the solstice will come and the days will lengthen again.
January will dawn and I’ll start again as planned.