Details, details, details...I find fall and winter to be full of details as one holiday (didn’t we just go trick or treating yesterday?) seamlessly makes its way into the next…(only 2 weeks until Christmas…already?!!). Each holiday the rightful owner to particular traditions, decorations and holiday hoopla and each presenting itself with a long to-do list in the midst of already busy days and schedules.
I'm still working out what it means to shop for two children every season...as the children grow, as the seasons change, the clothing needs change too. Where will we store the bathing suits, pool toys and rain coats while we make way for boots and shovels and mittens? And what about what won't fit next year, and what doesn't fit this year? Does it get stored? Will we have another child? Should I donate it? Where is the best place to spend the least money on all of the new stuff the girls need?
And that is just one small part of our lives?
All of these details are important, but they also overwhelm me at times (Me? Overhwhelmed?!)
I was an o.k. manager of details when there were only mine to manage…I could pretty aptly manage my schedule on a weekly basis, I had my seasonal clothing storage figured out, I had an exercise routine and a writing routine and all sorts of other methods that worked out alright for the most part. You know, in my past life before getting married (which I love--don't get me wrong) and before having children (which I also love in a very disorganized way!).
Enter husband…and a whole new set of details.
Enter child no. 1 and a whole new set of details.
Enter child no. 2 and a completely new set of details emerges.
Enter tired, confused momma who doesn’t know where her keys are, or what day it is, or where in the world I might be able to find a matching pair of socks for myself on a given morning, let alone for two small children staring at me with big round eyes. Mommy? They seem to be saying. You’re going to dress us so that we don’t look like members of the local circus this morning, right?
Well of course my dear children…now if only we could find your shoes…it’s snowing outside and the flip flops are just not cutting it anymore.
Ladies and Gents…I’m swimming in details…and let’s just say I don’t feel like I was ever given the proper swim lessons to keep up on some days . The days when I’m barely keeping my head above water: The days I’m doggy paddling from one side of the pool to the other: The days I use swimmies to take me down to the shallow end where I just stand staring at the folks who seem to be enjoying the deep end. It is there that I stop and think “What in the world am I doing wrong?” while I try to catch my breath and tell myself I’m still in the game as long as I’m still in the pool.
The days I think, Well, now why in the world did I spend all that money on classes in art history and psychology and political science when what I really needed was several semesters worth of classes on time management, and household organization?
I know that sounds awfully 1950's housewifish of me...but truly, do you not agree?
Alright, this was supposed to be a post about Christmas…a reverent, spiritual, how am I staying connected to Christ in the Christmas season post...I'm getting to that part...
So now that I've aired my piles of dirty laundry about how I'm swimming in the deep waters of details and feeling like I need a life preserver, here’s how I'm trying to stay present in the midst of the advent and Christmas season…In the middle of all of the details.
I know this sounds very cliche, but it is the only thing that works--In the middle of the flurries of details, I try to focus on what really matters. I try to focus on the present moment...the details of the very present moment.
Details like the delight in my girls eyes when they saw the snow on Friday morning and asked me to roll down their windows on the way to school so that they could eat it and then proclaim that it “tasted like freezie pops”.
Like the unfettered enthusiasm that my four year old displayed when I pulled out the bin of ornaments this year and she exclaimed, “OH MOMMY! Let’s put these on the tree! They're BEAUTIFUL!”
Like how they are both talking to me about Mary and baby Jesus and Joseph (or Jo-fuss as Ella says) as we do our ornament projects each day and pass nativity scenes and attend church services.
Their laughter, their smiles, the way Ava did Ella’s hair on Friday morning before school and declared that I was not to touch it! (It was a pretty funny mess of tangled hair, but I left the barrettes and the headband and the pony holders in place and simply told her teachers that her sister had done her hair that morning and that I was not taking credit…they smiled too!).
Earlier this week I heard one of our pastor’s wives talking about being a mom-- how fast it goes and how we should try not to rush the days away. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard hundreds of times since becoming a mom…It’s a sentiment I need to hear over and over and over again.
I got all teary and misty eyed because I know…I know how fast they have already grown. I KNOW how fast they will continue to grow. I KNOW I will be nostalgically wishing they were little again and that I will miss their round eyes, and chubby cheeks, and untainted delight over the details of Christmas.
I KNOW I wish the days away too often.
So even this weekend as I shop for snow boots and gifts and cookie decorating supplies and even this morning as I glanced at a very messy playroom and said to my husband, “Oh dear honey…I’m sorry the house is always a mess…what am I doing wrong" I'm trying to be in the moments. The messy, busy moments.
And my husband, bless his heart, said the best thing he could say…
“This IS OUR life babe.” Meaning, this is our messy, joy-filled blessed life, and it is good, and it is normal, and it is a season and it is OK.
And so as I drove the girls to school on Friday morning and was feeling like I was starting to let my mind swirl about the details, I did the one thing that works well for me, I started to focus on the details of the moment…It’s a little game I play called the 5 Senses. What do you hear, feel, see, taste and smell in THIS moment?
I heard laughter from the back seat, I felt a cool breeze on the back of my neck as the girls scooped the snow from the windows, I saw the snow dusting the trees like frosted sugar sprinkled from the sky, I felt the smooth leather of the steering wheel and I tasted my coffee, made by my husband.
And then I stopped and gave thanks for all of them, for it was good, and THIS is the will of God. Giving thanks in everything, the clean and the messy, the clear and the fuzzy. I was convicted by the fact that I almost missed those gifts.
And THIS is how we stay present in a busy, hectic and beautiful Christmas season. We stop and pay attention to the small details in the midst of the many more, and we give THANKS, joyful expressions of THANKS for them all. And then we do it again, and again and again. And eventually we realize that life is not going to wait for us to have it all together to start taking place, but that it is happening right now.