Yesterday morning I woke up feeling all the feels. It was a gloriously beautiful morning, and the day before we had celebrated M’s baptism into the Catholic Church. I was so grateful for our supportive community, and that we were going to spend thanksgiving with each of our families. In fact, I was so thankful I even penned a Facebook status for everyone and anyone I am connected with.
And then my kids woke up, and everything felt off. We stayed at home in the morning and it should have been relaxing for me, but instead I was on edge the whole time. Couldn’t get comfortable, was short on patience and frankly just needed a nap. Everyone else was just fine, but all those feelings I felt in the early morning as the sun rose? They melted away just like the thick frost that has been blanketing our lawns each morning.
We managed to get a nap in for B (a rare feat these days) and made it to my family’s house for dinner #1. We were all enjoying each other’s company when, about 45 minutes in, little M lost her marbles. However, my choice of word would be a little more colorful, start with S and rhyme with hit. (Not sure I could be more clear so if you don’t get that I can’t help ya, friend). I’m not joking though, she literally screamed for at least an hour straight until she was too exhausted and fell asleep. By that time we were headed to dinner #2 with Reece’s family and when she woke up again, she screamed again for another hour. Like blood curling, crazy screaming. It was tough to hear. Eventually we were able to calm her down and she was fine after a little bit of food and some good passing of gas (being a baby is hard). It was a pretty trying few hours though and while I tried to keep my cool while I was trying to calm her down, my insides were screaming too. One of the worst things as a mom is seeing your baby angry and frustrated and not knowing what’s wrong or how to help him/her.
Why am I telling you all this? For two reasons, I suppose. First, in today’s oversharing society (yes, I’m part of it), it is nice to know that not everyone’s holiday was perfect or worthy of a gorgeously curated instagram post. Second, whether you are a parent or not, it is important to remember to be grateful even in the middle of the frustrating moments. This holds true not just for Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. There were definitely times yesterday where I was NOT feeling grateful, but in some of the loudest and craziest moments I found myself saying a prayer of thanks that our families aren’t afraid of crying babies, and that I have a husband willing to step in and help.
As we now enter the Christmas season, I encourage you (and myself) to remember what you’re thankful for, no matter what adversity or stress you may be facing. Everyone struggles with something, and that’s not to say that your struggles are not significant but rather a reminder that you have a community here that understands and supports you.
Speaking of Christmas, one of the bright spots of my day yesterday was setting up our nativity scene as a family. Because I really don’t know how to be still, I took advantage of our down time in the morning and put up our Christmas decorations. In my defense, our decor is pretty simple so it didn’t take long and the first Sunday of Advent is THIS WEEKEND. Instead of rushing through the nativity, Reece and I walked B through each piece of our nativity scene as we put it together. She seemed to understand the importance of it and it was so special to see her little eyes light up with each new piece.
Advent is one of my favorite seasons, second to Lent. This year I have been thinking a lot about Advent and how i want to stay present in the season (if you haven’t noticed, that’s hard for me). One phrase repeating in my head is “prepare your heart.” I think that is going to be my personal theme this year…prepare my heart for Christmas. I want to do some work on my heart so that I can get the most out of Christmas this year. Between some crazy work schedules (both Reece’s and my own), plus the crazy that is being parents of two kids, it is easy for me to get caught up in wishing for more time/sleep/coffee/money, etc. I am worried that if I don’t set some standards for myself now, I might end up wishing away Advent.
In light of my last post about goal setting…I’m sharing the ways that I am planning to prepare my heart this Advent (because if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist):
Ways for our whole family to give back this season: bring a food donation to Mass every Sunday (we do this anyway but it is easy to forget), have Bernadette pick out a toy for toys for tots and drop off at the local fire station, participate in the giving tree at church.
Strengthen my faith: following along with the Naptime Diaries advent devotional*, journal with God at least once a week.
* Some of you may remember my post about the Naptime Diaries devotional last year…I waffled back and forth on purchasing it this year and finally am giving in because they’re offering a digital version for a really great price ($12). It’s full of gorgeous photos and thoughtful reflections, and I think it will be a great way to prepare this season. Here’s a link if you’re interested: http://www.naptimediariesshop.com/collections/advent/products/digital-2015-naptime-diaries-advent-devotional-pdf-version
So, in the middle of this weekend’s Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday craziness, I hope this post provides a little reminder that you are not alone in your imperfections. I also pray you are able to prepare your heart for the upcoming season, and would love to hear some of your ideas on how to do so.
Thankful for you, friend.