Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Well, the Christmas break has come and gone, and let's just say I'm not going to be taking home any "Mom of the Year" awards.

Okay, I'll try not to be too hard on myself. I didn't yell...that much. I allowed Anna to have a friend over (they baked a lopsided cake they didn't eat and stayed up until 3:30 a.m.). I played board games with Ethan and managed not to lose it when he lost it and threw Connect 4 pieces all over the kitchen when he lost too many games in a row.

But this is what I wish.

I wish I would be more unflappable and less sensitive.

I wish I wouldn't take every negative action my kids take as a sign of their impending doom in adulthood.

I wish I wouldn't forget to be grateful and count my blessings.

I wish I was a little less comfortable in all of my flesh and a little more like the God I follow.

There were Christmases when I wondered if Ethan would ever be excited about the holiday...would ever want to open presents...

...and yet still I found myself annoyed that he couldn't just open his toys like a typical kid and then want to spend the day playing with them instead of cajoling, "Screen time! I want the DS!" (Or Kindle, or iPad, depending on where we were.)

There was a time when Ethan ignored Anna and didn't have the language to argue with her. But these days when they are constantly fighting, I forget that. I forget that, because the fighting and hitting and tattling and whining seems non-stop. Also, I often don't know quite how to handle their fights, because they usually involve Ethan being a little stinker and Anna being a typical big sister mixed in with him not knowing how to relate due to his own issues, but if I try to excuse any of that with Anna she's thinks we're favoring him.

I hate how, while I love my kids unconditionally, I find it so much easier to love when they are being sweet and good.

I hate feeling tired and frustrated with my kids but then at night lying in bed when it's peaceful and wanting to cry because they're growing up so fast and some day I'll remember them like this with, perhaps, nostalgia and longing.

Most of all, I hate that feeling that maybe, just maybe, even though those kind of people irritate me, I may indeed be one of those annoying people who always manages to find something to complain or be negative about.

All I can do is stop.

All I can do, right now, anytime, is to choose to celebrate what was right about this break and the holidays in general.

I can think about the sky awash with stars on a crystal cold night when we went to the living nativity, and Ethan's excited expression when he saw the baby Jesus. "There's Jesus!" he exclaimed, and of course he knew it wasn't really Jesus, but his eyes were bright. I can remember the sounds of Christmas carolers and the way there was a perfect light snow on the day of our Christmas service at church. The world out of the window, from my view on the stage where we sang, was white. I can think of the sweet voices of children, perfectly imperfect. I remember Chloe at her first sight of snowflakes, outside, tasting them on her tongue, wanting more. I remember singing while my brother played the piano on Christmas night, and card games and laughter and the rip of wrapping paper. I think of the lights at Forest Park and the kids in the backseat of the car, and watching Home Alone while eating popcorn and snuggling under blankets. I think of sledding and laughing and kids playing chase and a new book from the library and cold hands on a hot cup of coffee.

And of course, I see what was there all along, when I choose where I fix my gaze.

When I let go of condemnation and regret, of wishing and hating.


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