Great Expectations, or, On Having Time

Once upon a time, I had the best of intentions.

I was going to revitalize my blog by writing from the road. Freed from our normal daily routine, I was sure I would have so much more time. I would use that time to share charming family photos, sweet anecdotes, and poignant observations while also creating a record of treasured memories.


You can see how that went.

Over the course of six weeks, I published a grand total of four times. I started another four posts, which still languish in my drafts folder. I kept thinking I would find the time – make the time – to write, but it just didn’t happen.

“It’s fine,” I told myself. “It’s fine. I’ll just write some recap posts when we get home. No big deal.”

Right. About that.

It’s been seven (!) months, and nary a post in sight.

There’s still time, right? I have time.

Actually, what I really have are excuses. I always have excuses.

For instance:

Life on the road was more tiring than I had anticipated.

(Life in general is more tiring than I anticipate.)

The kids needed me. The kids need me. The kids will need me.

The first trimester is exhausting. So is the third. And the fourth.

The dishes must be washed and the laundry must be folded and the meals must be cooked.

I had a baby. (More on that in a moment).

When said baby was just shy of three weeks old, a crazy snowstorm wreaked havoc on our county and we lost power for two (!) weeks.

(Ok. That last excuse doesn’t explain the six months of silence that preceded it. Still, as excuses go, I think it’s a pretty good one.)

About that baby:

She (yes, she, to her big sisters’ delight and her parents’ surprise) came with great haste (three hours from my first contraction to her birth) and no unnecessary drama (unless you count her staying put until two days after her due date) in early December.

We named her Emmeline (rhymes with mine) Hope because it’s pretty and we like it, but also because Emmeline means “hardworking,” and I need the reminder that sometimes, hope both takes effort and does some heavy lifting of its own.

She is the queen of spit-up. She loves being held, tolerates being kissed by older siblings, and hates being set down for more than five minutes at a time. She fights naps and bedtime. Her superpower is going from being calm and content to resembling Jack-Jack from The Incredibles in approximately 0.02 seconds.

We all adore her.

A week before Emmeline was born, a friend sent me a copy of Domestic Monastery by Ronald Rolheiser.

“I’ve found an encouraging book is helpful with a new baby,” she said. “Any reminder that holiness is cultivated in the mundane.”

She’s right.

Mired in the quotidian tasks of raising a family and maintaining a home, in this “interrupted life amid the noise and demands of small children,” I need the reminder to be faithful to the (seemingly small and inconsequential) commitments He has given me. My time is not my own; it is His. I might set great expectations for myself and have grand hopes for what I might accomplish, but, in this season, it might just be that caring for these four precious humans is “all” I can manage.

As Sarah Mackenzie puts it in Teaching from Rest, “If you have more to do than time to do it in, the simple fact is this: some of what you are doing isn’t on His agenda for you.”

It’s a simple concept. One you’d think I’d have figured out long ago. And yet, it’s taken me until now to really absorb it.

It’s freeing.

There are times when determining what should and should not fill my days is easier said than done. In this season, however, “His agenda” for me seems clear.

Hold a baby.

Read picture books with her older siblings.

Delight in Emmeline’s coos, in Miles’s hugs, in Abby’s grins, in Katie’s conversation.

Sing songs and say prayers.

Teach a little reading, a little math.

Kiss bumped heads and soothe hurt feelings.

Feed hungry tummies.

Go for walks and write in a journal and take time to breathe, to pray, to think.

Some days (but not all!), it includes the occasional chore. Run a load of laundry. Clean a dirty bathroom. Wash a stack of dishes.

And, every once in awhile, there’s time to write.

I have excuses, still. And the occasional guilt, the nagging feeling I should be doing more.

I might not be writing much these days, and my house might be messy. School has taken a relaxed pace. We don’t host others as often as we used to.

But for the things I’m supposed to be doing right now, I have all the time in the world.

9 response to "Great Expectations, or, On Having Time"

  1. By: Jamie Watkins Posted: January 21, 2022

    So good to read your words, which could be my words right now, with two toddlers and a third on the way! I just entered the second trimester, and the first was rough. Congratulations on the baby! Emmeline is a beautiful name. You have such a lovely family.

    • By: Jenn Posted: January 22, 2022

      Thank you, Jamie! Congratulations on your pregnancy! That first trimester can be brutal. I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly.

  2. By: Evy Waters Posted: January 21, 2022

    It’s so nice to hear from you. Welcome Emmeline! 😍 I enjoy your writing and we can totally relate here, as my daughter and her two year-old twin girls are living with us. And like you, this is what we are supposed to be doing right now. As a grandparent looking back at when my babies were young, this is really the best use of our time. These little humans are pretty incredible. Keep up the good work. 💕

    • By: Jenn Posted: January 22, 2022

      Thank you, Evy! It sounds like you have a full house. What fun.

  3. By: Kayla H. Posted: January 21, 2022

    I love the way you write!!!! Always has some reminder I need I’m just that moment. Thank you for your words.

    • By: Jenn Posted: January 22, 2022

      Thank you, Kayla!

  4. By: Linnea Wheaton Posted: January 21, 2022

    Thank you for sharing these words! They are what my spirit needed and such a good reminder. I hope we can meet Emmeline and see you all soon!

    • By: Jenn Posted: January 22, 2022

      Thank you, Linnea! And thank you for the book that inspired it. 🙂

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