I love everything about the holidays. I love celebrations. At my core, when I am at my best, most rested self, I am a party person. I love a good reason to dress up, to turn up the tunes, with our friends all bumping around the kitchen island. I love watching the wine being poured, appetizers being sampled, and most of all, laughter and connection filling up the room. I think every day is a good reason to celebrate, to shake up a cocktail too. So one can imagine, my hightened level of excitement on any given Holiday. It amplifies my anticipation, and also, I am finding, my expectations too.
I am learning, and uncovering, I have a lot of pre-conceived expectancies for each Holiday celebration. Christmas one-way, then Easter, New Years, and Birthday’s as well. It doesn’t really matter the Holiday, or the reason to gather, there seems to be a part of me that has a subtle expectation of how its all going to play out, how the cookie SHOULD crumble, how in my perfect world it will all go down.
I think some hopes I have for the day are good, are well intentioned. The core of my hopes for the Holidays are connection. I want to feel sincerely secured to one another, and at the same time, I want it to feel like it’s the best party too. That desire, and that hope, is well placed. It’s rooted in a genuine love for family, friendship and fun.
And on the other hand, some of the other expectations I place on a Holiday “day”, well, they reveal a side of me, a part of me, who is still very much striving for some level of perfect. Perfect me, perfect kids, picture perfect life. Smile. Sit. Stand. Pose and pretend whether its really playing out as planned.
I mean, who doesn’t want the hot chocolate moment while trimming the tree? Or the well-behaved child at the restaurant for “we-have-planned-it-all- year” Christmas get together dinner?
I sometimes want it all. Okay, I do want it all. I just want smooth days everyday. And that’s silly, and I know it too. I am learning a lot about the pressure I place on myself, and the need to lower my expectations too.
Halloween was two weekends ago, and let me be the first to tell you, it was not on par with my planned day. The day was packed full of timeouts and tantrums and a mama whose eyes were a little puffy by the end of the day too.
I was late to make the chili, late to dress the kids, late to the neighborhood party. I was late, tired, spent, and sad. Sad to admit that the day didn’t go down as I dreamed, and sad that I had to hard-core parent instead of hard-core play on a “Holiday” of all days.
The funny thing about parenting, is the days I don’t want to do it the most, are probably the days I am called to do it the most. To pull away and discipline, to disciple, and teach, even that day, that hour, that moment where I want to let it all go. To lie down my expectations and the energy I want to pour into party into parenting instead.
I hit Halloween evening exhausted. I spent all my energy on a four-year-old little lady dressed as Elsa, with a penchant for singing Let it Go, to a mama, who is still struggling with trying to navigate how to let all of her expectations go. And thats exactly how I was supposed to spend my day.
Its taken me almost two weeks to figure that out. That day, a day that had an agenda, had to be completely re-written when I discovered what was really needed of me. It was hard work, not the most fun work, it was the epitome of motherhood in the moment. I tossed out a lot of what I wanted, for what my girl needed. What we needed that day.
So, as the Holidays are here, and days full of expectations, and excitement approach, I am trying to listen more to what we need each day, not exactly what we have planned for each day. Sometimes the best plans need to be cancelled, to do what your called to do. To throw off the expectations, lessen the pressure, and give yourself grace in the midst of the work.