I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something so pure about a laughing baby.
A baby doesn’t have any inhibitions. A baby doesn’t hold anything back. When a baby is happy, everything just bubbles out in one growly, grunty, gurgly laugh — and I can’t get enough of it!
Several weeks ago we were playing at the park, and I was sitting on a swing with my rolly-poley “Mudge-pudge” cradled on my lap. We weren’t swinging fast by any means, but every time we’d lurch forward or lean back, that sweet little girl would let out the happiest little giggle.
The weather was absolutely perfect. The sky was blue. The tulips and daffodils were blooming. The trees were just starting to bud. And I occasionally caught snatches of chatting and laughter from Lindsey and our 3-year-old on the other side of the playground.
All in all, it was an absolutely perfect Spring morning — except for the fact that I was feeling terribly guilty…
Y’see, back at home there was a lawn that needed mowing, a garage that needed cleaning, a driveway that needed spraying, a (HUGE) garden that needed tilling, and a pig-pen that needed building. There were potatoes, onions, broccoli, and kale that needed planting. Tomatoes that needed re-potting. And the list went on and on.
So even though I’d been given a little slice of heaven, playing in the park with my sweet little family, there was a small part of me, deep down, that was feeling guilty for not working on my to-do list.
In fact, that nagging feeling followed me all throughout the day.
Even when I got home and actually got some gardening done, I was still feeling pretty down about it.
That night, after the girls had been put to bed, Lindsey and I stayed up and talked about it. We talked about a lot of things, actually, but the conclusion I came to is this:
I can’t do it all.
Now, I’m a pretty active guy and I LOVE to tackle all sorts of new projects. I’m all about growing a bigger garden, raising more animals, building new and exciting things. But at the end of the day, I can’t do it all.
There simply isn’t enough time.
So it appears I can either:
a) Keep trying to do it all, fail miserably, and then spend a good deal of time moping around, feeling guilty about it.
I’ll be honest with you though, neither of those options really appeals to me.
Although I wouldn’t mind a little less weeding, the thought of cutting back on our garden totally fills me with dread.
Sure, it’d save me a lot of time if I didn’t plant any potatoes. Heck, I could probably go out and buy a 100 pound sack of ’em for less than it would cost to take the family to McDonald’s — but I’d miss out on all the satisfaction of Saturday morning hashbrowns, fresh from the cast iron skillet, made from homegrown hand-grated potatoes that have been propagated on this little One Acre Lott for nearly half a decade.
And really, I don’t HAVE to plant my own cucumbers, melons, squash, or pumpkins. Folks around here grow so much extra, you practically have to keep your car doors locked while you’re at church — or else someone might fill your trunk full of zucchinis before the first sermon is over. But again, I just can’t bear the thought of missing out on the satisfaction that comes from growing my own…
(Besides, I think my co-workers would probably miss seeing me munching my way through those yard-long Armenian cucumbers that I bring for lunch every day in the month of August.)
When it comes down to it, I don’t think I’ll EVER be able to downsize the garden. I just love it too much.
But the more Lindsey and I talked about it, the more I realized that I need to drop something…
Life is too short for me to go around feeling guilty every time I take my girls to the park.
So, with a heavy heart, we decided to downsize our goat herd.
As much as I love the solitude and serenity of early-morning milking; as much as I love the exuberance of those waggly-tailed, floppy-eared newborn kids, I’ve decided that now is not the right time to pursue that dream.
Now just isn’t the right season for goats.
And when I think of it that way — when I think of goat herding as a “season” — downsizing just feels right.
I’ve always been a big believer in living seasonally. Just enjoying life as it comes.
Spring, summer, fall, winter… Each season brings its own set of blessings and challenges, and each season is an absolute delight — if you’re willing to take what it has to offer (and forget about the stuff it DOESN’T offer).
I think a lot of people nowadays spend a lot of time running around thinking they’ve been robbed because the current season doesn’t give them everything they want right now.
They miss out on a lot of happiness because they focus too much on that “perfect” season. Y’know the one I’m talking about, right? That delightful “season” (really only a week or two out of the entire year) in late-Spring/early-Summer when there’s absolutely nothing to complain about (except maybe allergies)? When the temperatures are pleasantly warm, the world is green, the skies are blue, and all the flowers are blooming?
The prevailing attitude in today’s society would have you believe that the other 50-ish weeks of the year are complete drudgery — just something to be endured.
But to me, living seasonally turns that attitude on its head.
Living seasonally means enjoying the blessings in front of you to the fullest, realizing that you can’t have everything all at once.
Don’t try stuffing everything into one season!
Have you ever tried eating a store-bought tomato in the middle of December?
What about firing up the woodstove in the sweltering heat of August?
It just doesn’t work.
Every time we try to force things out of season, the result is underwhelming at best, if not downright miserable (as attested by those store-bought tomatoes).
And that brings me back to downsizing our goat herd…
After our late-night talk, Lindsey and I concluded that right now, we’re in the season for raising kids… of the human variety. I guess that last sentence could be a bit confusing. Let me re-phrase it by saying: “Right now, we’re in the season for raising CHILDREN.”
So instead of trying to stuff everything into one season — instead of trying to juggle gardening, yardening, camping, hunting, fishing, biking, hiking, running, coding AND a small-time goat-dairy operation on top of it all, I’m gonna take my own advice and just enjoy raising children.
(And gardening, yardening, camping, hunting, fishing, biking, hiking, etc…)
Maybe downsizing the goat herd won’t make a huge difference, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. And like I said before, it just feels right.
At the end of the day, nobody really knows what each new season of life will bring — but I do know one thing:
I’m gonna do my best to enjoy it as it comes!