Good news for all the tired parents out there: WE ARE IN THE HOME STRETCH!
We have almost made it!
Christmas is almost here!
December in our family is, well, busy. Busier than probably any other month. School music performances, assorted Holy Days and Feast Days, parties, the end of a swim season, All Of The Things.
All very good things, I might add, but it’s still a lot.
Overall this year I feel like we’ve done a decent job maintaining a sense of quietness and a focus on Advent, in spite of all the hustle and bustle. Having a five-and-a-half-month-old baby probably helps with that–she more or less forces us to slow down, in the very best possible way. So thank you, Beatrice!
I also resolved this year to have all of the kids’ Christmas gifts bought by…wait for it…December 1st. And I did it! Thanks to Amazon Prime and a few other online options, everything was purchased nice and early. We do one large gift per child, occasionally rounded out by something else if the gift itself is relatively inexpensive.
Lest you start to think I’m some sort of supermom Christmas dynamo because I did all that shopping ahead of time, let me tell you that some of my goals were definitely not met–like the one to have everything all wrapped and the Christmas food all bought before we go out of town today to visit my in-laws–because I finally fell victim to a most horrible cold that had made its way through pretty much everyone else in my family, before finally deciding to take me down too. In spite of my valiant efforts to stay healthy, in the end, it got me. And I took to my bed like pretty much the most pathetic person ever, only getting up to shuffle to the kitchen for more water, and watched a bunch of shows. LAME. So when we arrive home on the evening of December 23rd, I will have some MAJOR THINGS TO DO before December 25th. I will begin the long task of giftwrapping, and curse my cold. I will shake my fist in the hot, crowded grocery store filled with like-minded procrastinators, and pronounce that next year I will prevail. Next year I will not be crashing my cart into summer sausage displays and small wandering children, as I buy my ham.
But you know, it’s really okay. I’m nothing if not flexible. I have nine kids for goodness’ sake, and let me let you in on a little secret here: you have to learn to be flexible when you have nine kids. Or you will die. Sounds dramatic, but it’s the truth!
And over the past few months–okay, probably ever since Beatrice was born–I’ve given a lot of thought to my life, to my vocation, to motherhood and to my family. Again, fresh new babies have a funny way of getting you to really think about things in a new way, or maybe it’s an old way, but regardless what it is, I’ve decided that I really want to embrace this season. I’m on the precipice of having a teenager, I have a sweet baby, and a bunch of kids in between. My life consists of changing diapers, preparing meals, and having LOTS OF CONVERSATIONS about everything from dating to atheism to friendships to screen time to abortion. I belong to a faith tradition which asks me for my yes to Jesus and to love, and I can give it kicking and screaming (yes, I do my fair share of that!), or I can give it humbly, trusting God to meet me there and fill in all the holes. Though the first option is tempting and, to be honest, is one that I occasionally fall into when I’m feeling sorry for myself, it leaves no space for joy, hope, or the beauty that can be found in daily family life.
Yes, it really is possible to find the good in the daily grind.
I see so many things about our large family that are positively priceless. The sibling relationships, the love, the mess-ups that give opportunities for forgiveness, the togetherness. It all runs counter to our culture, that is for sure, this being open to children thing. I do regularly ask myself “What on earth am I doing?”, but then if I really think about it and open my eyes, I am indeed able to see what God is doing. This is what allows me to embrace and, dare I say, treasure, my role as mother.
So as Christmas approaches I’m okay with a few things not going as planned. I’m okay with the fact that Beatrice still needs a bath before we leave today, and people still need to pack, and I forgot to finish buying stocking stuffers–add that to the list of daunting Christmas Eve tasks. (Also, making non-gritty fudge. Why is it always gritty?) But it’s all good because at 10:30 pm on Christmas Eve (my church doesn’t shut down for Christmas, by the way), my husband, nine kids and I will be sitting in Mass listening to the beautiful choir and receiving Jesus Himself in the Eucharist, the highest form of worship there is. A Merry Christmas, indeed!