I exhaust my husband…. yes, I do! I don’t mean to, I don’t intend to, I don’t realize I am doing it.
What do I mean….
Well, I have a personality and tendency to make a big production out of everything. This whole Christmas season and Christmas seasons past, I plan, run, prep, run more, and am constantly busy trying to make things “perfect” for our “traditions” or “celebrations.” I sometimes overwhelm myself. I end the day trying to have a conversation with my hubby and I usually fall asleep in the middle of it due to exhaustion.
I feel the urge and need to make everything perfect so that we have perfect memories.
Well, Alex has to always remind or even gently force me to SLOW DOWN. He says his head spins and I just need to settle down and enjoy the moment.
I know he’s right…. But who wants to make memories without everything being perfect??
Well, apparently everyone in my house but me!
It was Christmas Eve 2013. I had 3 days of plans and schedules about “what we are going to do” all in order to keep with traditions and memories. As we were still laying in bed early December 24th, the kids all piled in the room and I gave the family the “low-down” on the next 3-day memory making plan. They all looked at me and graciously said “okay mom (or dear).”
So the day began and so did the plan…. crafts, cooking, game-playing, pizza party, snow play and I scheduled myself for an afternoon of cleaning. We could not have a homemade pizza and game night and wake up to Christmas morning the next day while the house was not in order.
The kids did their chores and started their day of crafts, snow-play, gingerbread house making and daddy helping them all.
I was ready for my part – got my cleaning caddy, my gloves on and started to walk upstairs when something happened…….
Our sweet little Josiah (miracle baby) who is now 2.5 years old, grabbed my leg as I walked by, squeezed it and looked up at me with his big eyes and said, “Mommy, will you play Wegos wif me?”
I stood there with an actual dilemma – “clean house so we can make memories?? Or spending one-on-one time with this precious little boy??”
I mean, I actually stood there with a dilemma and had to think about it. Looking back on that incident from a few days ago, I am shocked and disappointed with myself that I even hesitated!
Even with my hesitation, I decided I could give him a few moments of my time to play Wegos (Legos :)). After all, I could do it all – Lego time and still get the house clean to where I wanted it!
But what I didn’t expect was a greater gift that day……….
We just happened to share this photo on our Facebook page right before this whole experience… it’s funny how that works 🙂
As I sat on the floor playing Legos, it was such a beautiful time. He blossomed in sharing these moments with his mother who was usually running all around to get everything done that I don’t take the time he and the others really want – making memories with mommy right there, not rushing from one thing to another.
Well, the longer I sat and played the less I wanted to get up and get back to what I called “Christmas preparation.” In fact, I was settling in quite nicely and enjoying this time together. But everytime I readjusted my position or moved a little, my son would reach out and put his hand on my leg and say “don’t go mommy” even though I wasn’t intending to. These were the memories I wanted to create instead, but he didn’t know that. He thought I was still wanting my “first we will do this, then I will do this, then you will sit here while we make this…. etc.”
What was starting to occur to me was not that we tried to get “everything” done and in for the season, but rather that we slowed down to enjoy what we could instead.
With the busyness of the season, this fact become more known than other times of the year. I try to spend time just “playing” or “hanging out” with the kids without distractions normally, although I do not devote enough time to them and to their emotional needs any time of the year.
It was quite an ironic situation, trying to make things special and perfect for those wonderful memories when all they want are the simple things – like actually spending time with me.
I know I have a lot of things I need to work on with being a mother. No mother is perfect, no mother has it all right and apart from the Grace of God, I would be a total failure.
It is exhausting to be mom, wife, Proverbs 31 woman and all that others think the perfect woman should be. But God does give us the strength and wisdom to know what our children need. Society does not know. The dynamics, personalities and circumstances affect every household differently, but I think one thing that is universal is our children need us…. they don’t need stuff, they shouldn’t feel like they need to earn our affection or attention, they shouldn’t feel like a clean house, perfect meals, or any other earthly tasks are a priority over them.
A few days ago, I ended up spending as much time with Josiah as he wanted to spend playing “Wegos.” It was beautiful, fun and memorable!
Somehow, our memories, pictures and time together skipped over the fact that when we had our pizza and game party that night, the dishes were stacked on the counter behind me. Somehow the pictures and memories missed the fact that the bathroom attached to the laundry room was filled with unsorted laundry. Somehow the pictures and memories missed the fact that the toilets weren’t cleaned that day.
Now I couldn’t let myself have an unvaccumed family room for Christmas morning…. but I did that after the kids were in bed while daddy brought the load down. I didn’t need to do it while they needed me!
For 2014, I already know that a priority I am going to make is to make more time with my children , more specifically slowing down to spend time with them with less distractions.
I often think “when else could I do those things I need to do…. I am already going, going, going all day…..??” But for me personally, a little less time on Facebook, online and email will give me time I need to take care of those necessities.
I can certainly re-prioritize and I certainly will!
So All I Wanted for Christmas Was a Clean House, But I Got Better Relationships Instead
So what does this article have to do with saving money or a thrifty lifestyle? Everything and nothing. I hope you understand. 🙂
Beautiful 🙂 I have to admit, I am quite the same with planning, prepping , organizing, I make lists upon lists ABOUT lists and then have seperate plans to expand on those lists… I hope next year I can focus on the more important things in life, my family 🙂
I will tell you how I got a wake up call…..Before 40 I would try to make it a perfect Christmas .I cooked,shopped,and would clean and be bitchy. Im not one of those moms that HAS to have a spotless house. Never have. At holidays it was a different story….At 40 1/2 we lost our 19 yr old son and 4 other friends in a car accident. All I can say is theres NOTHING worse. NOTHING. It took me 3 yrs just to feel alittle normal. I stopped fussing about being over weight, holidays and everything I thought then was important. We went on to adopt at the age of 43, a sib set of 4 the youngest then was 4 months ,2 yr,7 yr and 9 yr. So I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I’m now 52 .This Chistmas I started to get overwhelmed again and stopped myself. You know what I did, threw everything in crock pots ,clothes that needed to be folded sat on the couch and still everyone had a wonderful time. My big kids and my little kids wont remember there was clothes on the couch. They will remember the fun and that they got to sit at the big table. 🙂
Karen M Roth
You are inspirational. I am terribly sorry for your tragic losses,but I love that you chose to do something positive and invest in the lives of your precious adopted children.
Great post. I often worry my kids will only remember me standing at the sink doing dishes.
Thank you for the reminder, made me tear up. My 3 & 5 year old often ask me to play & I put them off. For what? Certainly not God’s best for us as a family. Thanks again!
Mine are all grown and now I have Grand-daughters. I decided a few years ago that I did not need a fancy dinner. It actually started on one Thanksgiving after spending all day and eve in the kitchen (playing Martha Stewart). I started at 6am. Well after all the hard work, dinner lasted 20 min! then it was clean up, all went into the living room and vegged out and I was in the kitchen cleaning and prepping all the desserts to the table, all grabbed their plates of goods and I back in the kitchen doing more dish cleaning, Well, at 9pm I went to sit in my chair for a well deserved rest and it was occupied by someone in a turkey coma! I just made up my mind that I was not going ever do that again. Since then I totally simplified dinner and desserts are doled out to who ever asks what to bring, I have even said bring mashed potatoes! This year was the most un-stressful holiday’s I had and I got to visit with people and laugh with the grand-kids and my kids. It was a blast… Oh I also pared down Christmas gifts to one to be opened, cash, and a few goodies for the stockings! Awesome! I felt so much better about Christmas day than I have in a long time! Now if I can get the cookie making spread out a little more… I’d have the my world in my hands! But I have to confess to the King of Kings, He has the whole world and mine in His hands! I have to say the Kids and Grandkids all said how much fun they had. My only regret is that I didn’t do this many more years ago! You are so right about memories being made that really count!
Oh my gosh I have felt like this horrible three headed monster woman for years because I also have been the mom that hesitated to sit down. Thank you for sharing your honesty.
Thank you for this post. As a mother of a large family, I know that children grow up fast!!! Take advantage of any time you can as they grow up. You will be rewarded with relationships that last a lifetime. The seeds you plant now(time) will blossom in the future(wonderful relationships with them having time for you!) Thank you for the time you take to write and inspire and encourage us!
I am a senior woman, kids all grown, married & gone from home. I have 3 nutty cats I dote on. One day I was busy in the house & one of my cats came to me with a toy, wanting to play. I stopped what I was doing & played with him with his toy. As I did that, I thought of when I was young with young kids & when they asked me to play, I would say that Mama was busy right now. As I have grown older, I have put things in perspective & know it’s okay to stop & play & not run around the house working and cleaning all the time.
LOVE this! I gave up trying to have it all perfect a few years ago. It’s really nice! God bless! Thank you for your writing. Please keep writing (but only when you’re not playing Wegos.) <3 <3 <3
My husband and I are Christmas minimalists. We bowed out of the adult gift exchanges. We don’t give to nieces and nephews, even though his family gives to my kids. It makes it so much less stress when you simplify. We are still working to pay off debt and I hated the feeling of spending money we didn’t have on stuff people don’t need, and we get stuff we don’t need.
Funny story. My parents moved in with us and the first Christmas together, I made a chart with each person’s name and “want, need, wear, read”. We had a lot of fun putting our wishes on the chart. My daughter put that she wanted her own jar of peanut butter so she can double dip. When she opened it, my dad said he wants his own jar of peanut butter, my other daughter does too.
We have fun with Christmas, make cookies for the neighbors, give to the needy, participate in special church services, etc. But when January comes around, I don’t dread getting the credit card bills. It feels good.
One of our favorite traditions is going to a Christmas day movie every year. I look forward to doing this with just my husband, and 2 daughters.
Thank you, I was just about get started with my craziness. I am going to take it slower. Maybe I can get to see the faces this year!
Karen M Roth
All I wanted was a clean apartment and our big tree put up.So far,none of it has been done. I am currently being tested for Carcinoid with Carcinoid Syndrome and possible liver and kidney issues with gallbladder issues as well. So I am doing what I can and spending time with God and gazing at the painting on the wall that simply says “Grace”…
Have a wonderful Christmas!
I can imagine what sort of mess it is when your plans were being ruined. Last summer we bought a house in Perth that needed a bit of construction works while we were adding one more floor on top. And it was so hard to clean debris from the second floor! Site Cleaning in Australia as recommended by our neighbor was a really huge relief in this case. Fortunately we managed this construction in 6 months and had a wonderful Christmas afterwards.