Dec 21, 2016

Look at the Tree, Tired Mama

Look at the tree, tired mama

Our tree is up, decorated by nine of my children, big helping little, with lots of love and care. It doesn't quite fit in our small living room and everything is a little more crammed together. But I love my Christmas tree.

Today, my third child turns nineteen. His is the fifth birthday we have celebrated among my children this month. Needless to say, December is crazy busy and crazy stressful. Ironically, my most peaceful Advents have been those five years when I was awaiting and then holding a new baby. I was forced to prepare early and be ready when baby arrived. And even if it wasn't ready, when baby came, I was forced to stop, to sit, to gaze at my baby and to look at my tree.

Other years, I tend to not stop until that last chance to order from Amazon, or even until Christmas Eve. There is always one more gift to buy, one more stocking item to get. Sometimes the wrapping runs right into Christmas Eve dinner and Mass. Our Christmas Eve dinner tradition is take out Chinese, because a few years back I finally gave in to the fact that I couldn't get dinner on the table and stopped beating myself up for not making a seven course meal involving fish!

This year feels a little more peaceful. Maybe it is the longer Advent, it doesn't feel as rushed. Maybe it is age. Two more kids may leave the nest in the coming year. My internal voice says, "savor each moment", "smile more- fake it if you have to". I'm looking closer at the lit Advent candles, searching for the spiritual depth I need to find for myself. I am trying to be more mindful when the stress builds up, and I'm taking extra care of myself, especially nutritionally, instead of indulging in cookies and birthday cakes and sabotaging myself.

We moms take on so much during Advent, especially as Catholics because while we are tending to the material aspects of the "season" like most Americans, we know that it is more important to tend to the spiritual. We pray the prayers, we light the candles, we read the picture books,  we celebrate the feast days. Our kids know "the reason for the season".

But, tired mama, are you tending to your own spiritual needs? Will the Baby Jesus find a warm, cozy dwelling place in our hearts? Or will we hit Christmas morning worn out and empty, with no room at the inn because the inn is a run down ruin? Will those mom tears we cry (y'all cry at Christmas Mass, right?) be tears of joy or tears of exhaustion or disappointment?

I can promise you that you can't get it "all" done and things won't be perfect Christmas morning. I know my house won't be clean enough for my liking and inevitably I will forget something for a stocking or misplace a gift. But if you and I stop today, four days before Christmas, turn the lights low, maybe light a candle and make some tea, meditate on what we are preparing for, and beg for grace, the less than perfect can be part of the beauty instead of the straw that breaks the mama's spirit.

Tired mama, He is coming for you, to bring you His peace and His rest, as much as He is coming for your children. Be ready, anticipate as your children are anticipating. So, tonight, when they are all in bed, sneak back downstairs in your pajamas and slippers, and sit in the light of the tree, and soak it in. Look at your tree, tired mama, and be filled with the beauty of all it represents.

Merry Christmas! May your Christmas tears be sappy tears of joy that embarrass your kids! 🙂

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