As we enter the Advent Season, I find myself entering a new season of my own. As much as I keep trying to tell myself (and anyone else who will listen), that as long as I keep having babies, I’m still a young mother, it’s not entirely true. I have older children now, who are carrying me into a new phase of life.
I’ve already been faced with plenty of math problems I can’t solve (which isn’t saying much, but still). There is talk of first grade romance in the car on the way home from school. I am no longer in charge of deciding how they fix their hair, or what clothes they wear (when they’re not in school uniforms). And they’re reaching the age when they not only get my sarcasm, but have pretty witty little personalities of their own.
These have all been gradual changes I’ve been eased into. But I haven’t really noticed that, along with these changes, comes something else I’m not fully tapping into: their ability to work for me.
Sure, I’ve talked before about putting them to work cleaning up after themselves (I type, as I shake my head in shame over the failure of this implementation). I get them to fill the pet bowls with food, take the trash out, and do other basic things towards the running of this household.
But now that Christmastime is approaching, every mom knows that comes with all the regular Mom-duties, plus a hundred million other things. There are treats to bake, things to contribute to school parties, concerts to attend, parties to host or
drink at go to, decorations to get out and put up, gifts to buy, cards to order and send, the list goes on and on. It’s a lot to add to an already full plate, and it seems that just when I cross one thing off the top of the list, I have to add three more things to the bottom.
Last year, our house looked like a staging area for decorating for over two weeks. TWO. WEEKS. it took from start to finish to get all our festive on. That’s ridiculous. I tried to convince my crew that maybe we didn’t need all five trees up this year, but it seems I’ve created a bunch of little Griswolds (and one very big one), and that was not an option we could possibly entertain. And so, we are on day 5 of the staging area.
I am seriously overwhelmed right now with two orders of contract work, the last week of marathon training (thank goodness it’s taper time), cards to send out, photo gifts to order, laundry to do, a TON of picking up to do around the house as a result of the tornado that happens when everyone is home for the holidays, and more. My email and text messages are blowing up with all kinds of various needs, some of which involve more things to put on the calendar. I don’t even know where to start.
Enter, my older children. Those suckers don’t know what’s going to hit them when they get home from school. I’ve got 75 Christmas cards to stuff, stamp, and seal. I’ve got the remaining ornaments left to hang so I can get these forboding totes out of my dining room and enjoy the fruits of our labor. (Except for that one string of lights that has already gone out and is staring at me with mocking hostility!) There will be clean laundry to help fold. There will be rooms to pick up. And there will be a homework chain of helpers which will magically not have me with the assignment of listening to Lilah attempt to read. Because I just. can’t. do. it. all. myself. And I’m kinda over trying to do it all myself, since it is exhausting and fruitless. And, as it turns out, I’m not an altogether pleasant person when I’m working alone against powerful forces 18 hours a day. If we all want to enjoy the good things that come along with the season, then we all need to contribute towards it. (And Lord help me on whittling down the tree effort for next year!)
So, when you get a Christmas card in the mail with no message on the back and a stamp placed like this
smile. And know that with the time I am saving by implementing my child labor sweat shop, I mean, enlisting the help of my little elves, I am getting to do one more fun, Christmas activity with my family. This season shouldn’t be about one woman running herself ragged in an effort to create magic for everyone around her. Rather, it should be about enjoying these things together. And while some things are unavoidable, and I’m not suggesting we all go Bad Moms on our kids and their teachers, it’s important that we remember, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, the only thing that truly matters this time of year: that a long time ago, in the most humble of places, a precious baby was born to save us all.