Adrienne Tratz

Adrienne Tratz

I’ve always been a New Year’s Resolution sort of person, and I was fortunate enough to have a sister who loved planning and goal-setting as much as I did growing up. I remember sitting at Barnes & Noble with her one year several Saturday nights in a row planning our new lives for the coming year.

We broke down our goals into categories — intellectual, social, spiritual, personal, and whatever else we could come up with that ended with “al.” It was exhaustive and exhilarating. We were such happy nerds back then, tugged back to cultural normalcy only by the jabs and teasing of our middle sister.

As the years went by and I married a teacher, I realized that the rest of my life would be tied to the school-year schedule. At first I felt like I was going backwards; now I’d never actually be “out of school.”

But then I realized that I am exhausted by this January 1 brouhaha. Why do we do this goal-setting stuff right in the middle of holidays and vacation and cold-and-flu season?

The early months of the year are there to remind us how much more grateful we ought to be for the lovely months in the middle and the colder months that promise us Christmas. Why make ourselves more miserable trying to keep impossible promises during those dreary winter months?

Nothing grows in the dead of winter. Ask an Alaskan — it’s like trying to plant a garden in permafrost. Consequently, I’ve given up resolutions in January in favor of September, my favorite month.

My home is my workplace — my garden — and my people are my plants. I can’t give them my best without some careful planning, and I find September is when my heart’s soil is at its richest, a greenhouse for my newly-dreamed goals.

So here I sit, my table covered with fresh, clean notebooks (my favorite!), a syllabus for each school-aged child, and all the books to help nourish my four little seedlings. I’ve never given them a real routine, so my big resolution this year is to offer them enough structure to build some self-control and discipline into their young lives — trenching these garden beds so their roots will hold and they can blossom in fullness as adults.

Obviously, I mean well. And obviously, I will fail them on occasion this year. I don’t run on my own steam very long, so I have to plan for some outside accountability to hold to my lofty goals.

Gardening always tested my commitment. But this kind of gardening requires the cultivation of my lifetime, and I know what my investment will yield. I have seen the rich harvest of my own mother’s garden.

It may be many years before I see fruit from my own little trees, but when I get discouraged — as I am sure to do this school year — I will remind myself that watering these plants faithfully is all today requires.

Adrienne Tratz is a full-time Catholic homeschooling mom to four daughters.

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