Today I did my second closet purge since being home from Uganda. When we got home I went through seemingly every room in the house, getting rid of things we didn’t need or didn’t use regularly. Then I moved on to the garage and did the same. It felt good, but over the last few months, I realized that there was yet another level of simplification that needed to happen. This round of purging meant parting with things I actually “like,” and things that I may have recently worn, just because they are excess and because others can make better use of them than I can. This process of simplification is teaching me two things:
1) More choices (in this case, more clothing options) do not mean more freedom. Some choice is good. Too much choice creates stress and clutter (internally and externally), and, with 4 small children under one roof, I don’t need more of that!
2) Less choice does not inhibit my creativity. I used to think more choices meant more options for creativity, but, I’ve found that too much choice stifles my creativity whereas less choice enables me to better see color, texture, layers, etc., and how they can work together.
I continue to be surprised by how affected I am by our time in Uganda- the simplicity of life I experienced there, and the redefining of what I actually “need” that took place in me as a result. I’m learning that, when I eliminate areas of excess, I don’t actually lose anything, but that new freedom is found. I’m also learning that simplicity is a discipline and a gift. It is progressive- always in process and never complete. It’s a journey I’m so glad to be on.
Tonight, when I left the twins’ room after tucking them in bed, I stood at the door and listened for a while to the little voices calling out, “I love you mama” repeatedly in tones that were too sweet to adequately convey in written words. I remembered standing outside the same door just a few months ago, tired after trying to soothe anxious and upset babies, wondering how long the bedtime strife would last. Tonight’s noises were a wonderful reminder of the progress the twins have made in their adjustment to life as Ludwigs. There is other evidence of progress too- Cora’s 8 teeth that are just starting to come in, Elias’ need for size 3t t-shirts (he was barely filling out the 18month size when we came home in October), the ever increasing vocabulary of both kids, their huge smiles, their willingness to greet strangers and to share food, their normalized bowel movements (this one I am particularly thankful for), their fearlessness on the playground, Cora’s complete change in countenance and disposition, the continual singing and chatter that can be heard pretty much ALL the time, the dancing, the clapping, the wrestling… oh man. Every day, these two seem to become more “alive” and more themselves.
To be fair, we do have our fair share of tears and timeouts. We have the battles of the will, testing of limits, a disdain for sharing, and a whole host of “normal” two year old struggles (times 2). But these challenges are developmentally healthy and normal and are actually signs of health and progress in their own ways. So, we celebrate them (at least in moments of silence at 2am, maybe not when both kids are throwing a fit in time out, ha!), and we embrace them, and we remind ourselves that, in the grand scheme of things, we are all doing really, really well.
I still can’t believe that we are all under the same roof. I remember not so long ago when I tucked a weepy Macy in bed as she cried for her brother and sister that she so desperately wanted to have home. I cried too. It felt impossible- the idea of all four of my kids being in one place seemed out of reach and a long way off. And now, well, I think I’ll go peek at the four of them as they sleep soundly in their beds…