It has occurred to me that I am woefully lacking in a few important mothering/house-wifery attributes.
This sad thought came to me recently as I was perusing a few blogs of a few friends. Over and over I read about how these various wonder women have been baking dozens of batches of cookies with their families, trading out their festive fall decorations for their splendid Christmas decor, and creating fabulous centerpieces using just three pine cones, a graham cracker and a glue gun.
And then I thought about how my house looks in June . . .
and I thought about how my house looks in December. (Just one week before Christmas.)
Did you notice much difference? Did you notice a plethora of Christmas décor bursting out everywhere?
Nope. Me either.
June or December—it’s all the same at our house! (Except for the addition of a tree which we will put up tonight.)
And guess how many batches of cookies Sarah and I have baked together in filial, festive, fellowship during this Christmas season?
The answer is none. One big colossal zero. Not one single cookie. Not one single batch.
After giving this whole matter some thought, I started feeling bad about all the “should do’s” that I should be doing but am not. I started thinking about all the “haven’t dones” that I haven’t been doing and should have. I started convincing myself that I was a failure for not transforming our home into a breathtaking wonderland and lining up neat rows of fudge and cookies and gingerbread houses across our counter tops.
And then I started to wonder. Is my lackadaisical lack of holiday homemaking enthusiasm psychologically damaging my poor daughter? Will she end up in a therapist’s office in ten years, in tears, saying, “My mom never put up many Christmas decorations and she and I rarely if ever baked any Christmas cookies together. And I just feel so sad and cheated because all those things were never a part of my life.”
After thinking about this way too long, it got to the point where I had to discuss it with someone. And so as Sarah and I were chatting a few minutes after lunch yesterday, I blurted it all out to her. I blurted out my maternal worries and woes and my concerns that I don’t do all the things with her (and for her) that all the other mothers do and that I feel really guilty about it.
Once I had made my speech, I watched Sarah carefully for signs that she agreed with my horrific unmotherliness and was diligently searching for the right words to say that would make me feel a little better but still let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I had grievously fallen down on my job during the Christmas season.
Instead, Sarah drew on her seventeen years of hard-won wisdom, looked at me lovingly and said, “But Mom, it’s okay. It’s okay that we don’t have the same traditions that other people have and that we don’t do the same Christmas stuff. We have our own traditions and that’s what really matters. I don’t mind that you don’t decorate the house or bake dozens of cookies because I know that we have our own special ways of celebrating together and they don’t have to look like everyone else’s ways.”
And so with the permission of my lovely and loving (and exceedingly wise) daughter I have stopped telling myself about all the things I should be doing in order to be a good mom. It doesn’t mean I love my family any less than the inveterate cookie baker; it just means that I celebrate differently and express my love differently.
So. If you are like me and aren’t up to your neck in flour and cookie cutters and gorgeous arrangements of mistletoe on your fireplace, it’s okay. You have your own way of celebrating the season and it might not look like someone else’s way. And although I greatly admire my cookie baking, decorating friends, I can be at peace with the fact that I don’t have to do all that to be merry at Christmas. (Although if any of them would like to give me a cookie or two from their dozens, I wouldn’t mind.)
How about you? What traditions did you have growing up? Or what traditions did you skip growing up? What traditions do you have (or skip over) now?
As I’m writing on the subject of motherhood this morning, I want to take a moment to remember the mothers (and fathers) in Connecticut who have lost their precious children to the bullets of a troubled young man. These are mothers who will never again celebrate another Christmas with their children, the way I have been blessed to celebrate so many with Nathan and Sarah.
On our church sign this past weekend we put, “Connecticut, we weep with you.”
And we do. All of us weep, even as we send our prayers and compassion to that suffering town and its brokenhearted people.