Another year has gone by, and, if you are a lot like me, you are wondering, “Where did it go?” Every year, my head swirls with questions that pop up like a mid-summer afternoon thunderstorm. Questions like, did I accomplish what I wanted, what my family wanted, what everyone expects of me? Guys, I’m 56 years old, and these questions still pop up in my head. Crazy as it seems, I’m really not a goal-oriented person, but year after year, I still ponder what I accomplished last year and what I want or need to accomplish this year.
I decided after years and years of these New Year’s questions, to look up the word accomplishment. The Webster dictionary defines accomplishment as,
- “Something that has been achieved successfully.”
- “The successful achievement of a task.”
- “An activity that a person can do well, typically as a result of study or practice.
Yep, that’s what I thought, until the other day. I know, I know…how can you change the meaning of accomplishment? Well, I can’t, but I can change the knowing or how I look at an accomplishment. You see, in the description above, all the sentences lead you to believe it’s something you knowingly are doing, or want to do, to be a success. Task, achieve, and activity are all words that lead to an accomplishment. This is where I can change it, people.
We are all doing some kind of activity that we are not thinking, time after time, as it being an accomplishment. Seriously, why are we so hard on ourselves? To expect day after day that we need to label things that we, or the world, think are important as an accomplishment is totally ridiculous. I’m sure our Lord and Savior didn’t go around saying, “Well, I accomplished that,” or “What can I accomplish today?” I feel He simply lived doing the things that were considered important to Him and God, but not putting limitations of what was important.
Truth is, we may never know how much we accomplish or even consider something an accomplishment until years—and I mean, years—later. Just recently, while eating lunch with one of our daughters, she asked me if I remember a game we played back in the 90’s. She stated, “Yeah, Mom, we as a family made it up. It was a car ride game, and it kept us entertained for hours.” Hmm, seriously, I don’t remember it, but after she showed it to me, I was like “Wowza, this is brilliant.” She, a creative 28-year-old, added that she has been playing it with friends, and it is just a fun, artistic game to play, even as an adult. I had to play it again, and when I did, the memories of my kids sitting in the back seat of our gray Plymouth Voyager van, passing a paper around, laughing, came rushing back like a tide in the ocean.
We started to reminisce about all the games that we played as a family one by one, and, in great detail, she described each one of them. Sharing with the boy she nannies, eating lunch with us, we passed the game around, giggling and laughing so hard that nearby lunch-goers turned their heads to see what was so funny.
I don’t know about you, but I have to say I can’t believe that game, after all these years, has left a joyful impression on our family. Seriously, I was a stay-at-home mom at that time, and to think that this game, that entertained our family during a long trip to who-knows-where, is bringing back sweet memories and laughter to my family today…well, I call that an accomplishment! I know for a fact this was not on my list back in the day, and I would not even recognize it as being one. I’m sure, back on probably a cold January day, I was wondering the same thing that I have for many years—“Did I accomplish what I wanted this year?” Guess what? Twenty-three-plus years later, in the month of January, to my surprise, God revealed to me the most wonderful, simple, hidden accomplishment that I never knew.
So, for all those who are wondering, or have wondered, the same thing, you never know; even an everyday routine could show its face years later as an accomplishment. I know how hard it is to raise children, whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a working one. It is exhausting, but as you get older, you will see and continue to reap the rewards of your hard work—and some will come as such as a surprise, like this one, which makes it even better! Mothers, fathers, grandparents, caretakers, everyone, take heed in your work and know that every day, every hour, every minute, and every second, you are accomplishing something, so don’t be so hard on yourself, and enjoy life to the fullest.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans (NIV).
I love sharing ideas, so below are a few of the games we played back in the day that maybe you would like to incorporate with your family. Some we made up, but I got a lot of games from a magazine called Family Fun, a hip parent magazine in the 90’s. They have great ideas for fun family games and activities; check out past issues at the public library.
Vocabulary Game (I got this one from Katie Couric)
Decorate a coffee can with the words “Weekly Vocabulary” on it, and put it on your kitchen or dining room table.
Each day, everyone learns a new word.
Everyone writes the word down and brings it to the dining room/kitchen table at dinner. (This is a great way to get your family to eat together at the table.)
During or after dinner, go around the table and let each person share their word. Older children can give the meaning and spell out their word if they want.
Once they are done with their word, they can put it in the Weekly Vocabulary can.
Sunday is review day, so let each child pull out a word from the can and read the word. (Always help them if needed.) I always wanted this is to be fun way of learning. No pressure, just fun. You’ll be amazed at what they learn!
Our kids were spread apart, so the younger ones learned words by pictures, but I’d always write the word under the picture for the older ones to see. School-age children love this game because it’s a great way for them to learn many things—reading, pronunciation, and spelling. Younger children learn how to communicate and increase fine motor skills by putting the word in the can.
Some weeks, we made up a theme, like bring a vegetable, fruit, sport, bug, plant, or animal word to the table. If it was a food vocabulary week, sometimes I would make one of each family members’ words on Sunday. You can change it up for your family, but whatever you do, make it fun!
How Well Do You Know Me? (We made up this game for car rides.)
Each person gets to ask a question about themselves.
Example: “What is Mommy’s favorite song?” (Sing it.)
“What does Daddy like to eat for breakfast?”
“What’s my favorite toy?”
The person who guesses first gets a point.
This game can go on and on and on. Lots of laughter!
I asked my children what Mommy washes her face with, and one of them said, “Wax!” Hahahaha! I’m still laughing after all these years.
Start-to-Finish Story (This is another great car ride game.)
Someone (usually an adult) starts a story.
Go around the room and have each person add to it.
By the end of the story, you will be rolling in laughter.
This is a great way to increase a child’s imagination and acting skills. Even if it’s just a few words, they are learning and participating in family fun.