I told myself this year would be different. I would be less stressed out and I’d engage more. But the reality is that while our lives look very different from last year, most things are about the same. I’m realizing how the children’s tendency to ignore or interrupt me is wearing heavily on my nerves. Despite cutting back on the number of holiday activities we are doing, I’m still finding myself struggling to keep up. I’m doing the last of the packing for a much looked forward to visit with friends and family, but I can’t shake the feeling of dread over the how the kids will behave. Will the 8 year old have one of her emotional meltdowns, will she even eat anything but cookies the whole trip? While the five year old be a pest or let his charming side show? Will his ever changing sensory system handle all the noise and transitions? How will the two year old manage without his naps and will we be able to relax at all between keeping the three of them safe and fed?
Maybe the truth is that I’m the one who wants to be different. More confident in my choices as a parent as I field well meaning questions about our kids, their therapies and education. I want to have more to show for myself for the last year than a few extra pounds and the tales of laundry piles tamed and tantrums soothed. My second book still isn’t finished and I have little else with my name on it. Except for these children, these wild and wonderful creatures who suck every last bit of energy from me and yet make me feel insufficient and unnecessary. But they are not my report card. I am not here to report on my progress and submit my yearly budget numbers. I want to feel surrounded by support not smothered by expectation and most of that is on me.
Perhaps that is one of the most beautiful things about the Christmas story itself, that in becoming one of us, Jesus made it possible for us to change. The very act of coming to earth as a human baby brought nobility to the entire human race, enabling us to be different too; not as much on the outside, but where it matters in our hearts and souls. May we all have a different Christmas, one where we recognize our chosenness, embrace the best traits of our humanity and meditate on the birth that led to rebirth for all of us.
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine”