Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Celebrating Ordinary Joy

I'm an ordinary mom.
I have four (and on some weekends- seven) pretty ordinary kids.

Hear me out on this one.

But first
If you haven't already read "Rage Against the Mini Van's" call to bring the holidays down a notch.  Start there.  It has caused quite a stirring amongst my facebook friends so I'd venture to guess you've come across it already.  I'll tell you my two reactions:
1) PREACH IT!  I'm so over the purposeless-excess at holidays (and I'm terrified of a sneaky elf that watches us).  I'm so far from crafty, I can't even tell you how much the very thought of "helping" my children make things for their classmates makes me sweat.
2) But WAIT.  Isn't there more to holidays? More to motherhood?  More than just survival, doing the minimum, making it through each day? **

Did you see this video?  From a mom, years ago, about her ordinary days with her (now grown) sons?

At first the two may not seem all that related, but last night, as I tried to figure out what bothered me about the first, I realized that the answer was found in the second.

My problem with holiday-overkill IS NOT that I think I could ever do too much to celebrate with my children.  EVER.  I love the moments we stop to create traditions.  Traditions like our Christmas countdown, or remembering Pi Day  (a day that changed our family).  Traditions like reading with their Nonna on Christmas Eve or taking pictures in the pumpkin patch each October.  Traditions like we started this year, of praying together at the playground on the First-Day-Of-School-Eve.  Traditions we've learned from others and traditions we've created or adapted to fit our family.  Traditions in which we stop to celebrate. Together.  Traditions in which we try to teach our children a bit about loving each other and extending love to others.  There's not an ounce of that I want to take down a notch. Not one.

In fact, why wait for a holiday.  What about that 20 minutes of reading, the mathfacts, or the eating dinner together?  You know. The Ordinary.  Can't those be filled with JOY.  Can't we move them off a checklist of "to be done before bedtime" and count them among our ordinary blessings.  **

Now wait, don't roll your eyes yet. 

I know Know KNOW that some days aren't too fun with a capital F-U-N.  Trust me, I know.  Remember, my child hid in the grocery store and pooped in his underwear, and another one attended a birthday party we weren't invited to, and family pictures aren't always what they seem.  And those are just the ones I've blogged about.  In fact, I'm only finding time to blog right now because I'm home with a sleeping kiddo who isn't feeling well.  Totally rearranged all of our plans for the next couple of days.  Wouldn't necessarily put that in the category of FUN.

I, too, battle the inner "if they don't start soccer before kindergarten OH MY WORD how will we ever afford college without a scholarship" and the "if they wrestle with each other to the point of death ONE MORE TIME I just might go CRAZY."  Seriously.  Everyday. 

Instead, my problem with holiday-overkill is that sometimes the moms outdoing each other via extraordinary treats sent to school and birthday parties that are the envy of our social circles takes away from the very point- the together.  the ordinary. sometimes we miss THEM, our little ordinaries (our children) in the middle of what we are doing "for them".  It might take some energy, it might take some thought, it WILL take a lot of prayer. But isn't it worth it, to celebrate JOY in the ordinary.  AND BONUS- it turns out, since a lot of us happen to agree with the notions in the blog about taking the holidays down a notch, we have some energy available to redirect.

There has to be more to motherhood than just surviving.
There has to be more to motherhood than competing and outdoing.
There is JOY to be found in the ordinary.
And we can encourage each other to find it.
And here's the thing.
You can make your ordinary EXTRAORDINARY.  And it wasn't my idea.
It has little to do with how BIG you do holidays, whether you do anything the "right way", whether your kids were ever the very best at ANYTHING.
It has everything to do with how and why you do this job called motherhood (or parenthood).
Its from John Chapter 3, verse 21
NIV: But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
The Message: But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.
Did you know that verse was written for parents?  Ok, so maybe not exclusively.  But lately it has been my encouragement in all of this.  I'm not extraordinary because of what I do.  Not to my children and not to others watching me parent.  Not because I'm getting everything right (in fact, some days I'm not getting ANYTHING right).  If any GOOD comes from me, if any JOY extended to my children its because of the TRUTH. The light I'm choosing to stand in is not one I can create, but it certainly is one I can reflect.
In Holidays. And in Ordinary Days.

I'm an ordinary mom.
I have four (and on some weekends- seven) pretty ordinary kids.
Only to me, they aren't.
And I have a feeling that to them, I'm not either.
Maybe someday I'll tell them the truth, about being ordinary.
But each day I hope to SHOW THEM the TRUTH about being extraordinary.
We celebrate together.
With great JOY.
And we're taking that UP a NOTCH.

 Hopefully that's a movement you can get on board with. 

**I don't know the author of that blog.  I think she is hilarious.  I am not saying that I think she doesn't find this kind of joy in her parenting.  I just didn't read it in this one post.


Melanie said...

Love this. My take away from that blog post on holidays was "can we please stop pressuring other moms to make a bunch of stuff on every holiday who are not the 'make a bunch of stuff' kind of women." (And I think a lot of the pressure just comes from social media and is more self-inflicted mom guilt than anything else... and commercialism...blech) I think other moms heard the same- but that's likely because it's what their hearts needed to hear (a confirmation for that unrest, perhaps?) I've had so many conversations with moms who feel like they are doing something wrong because it "seems" like every family makes intricate plans for frequent special occasions. Thankfully, there are as many styles of parenting as there are craft boards on pinterest. Like you I heard that author's tone of "I survived- can that be enough?" towards the end of her article and thought it was sad (though so accurate on some days in my own home.) And I love how for all us, whether young or old, celebrating life can look like the happy dance over a homemade dinner (or any dinner), or the victory of a weekend arriving after a long work week, or "I found a bug!!" And those daily, ordinary celebrations and joys become extraordinary with the presence of God's unrelenting glory. (Which is also why the "ordinary things" reading turns us into blubbering messes as moms.) So, like you, I say "Yes!" to traditions and memories and joyous giggles in the little paradise we try to create at home for our families. And also, for me especially, a "PRAISE the Lord that it doesn't have to look like arts and crafts everyday or carefully assembled themed baskets of candy in my house because I would slowly die inside."

Raina said...

I agree with both your post and RATM's; I just think you are hitting on two slightly separate points. Hers is a little more the negative tone of "can we stop the excessive holiday craziness?" while yours is the more positive sounding "let's remember what's important and celebrate the ordinary." Both are valid and timely points given our current culture. Where I really related to RATM was how I felt like I had more prep work for Valentine's Day than Christmas this year (projects sent home by teachers, not voluntary activities,) and then my kids started talking about catching leprechauns and expecting presents. More unnecessary presents from an imaginary figure? I'm out!!! And I'd like the option to sit this one out peacefully, but my boys are really confused because their friends told them it would happen. I love the traditions you mentioned because they are personal to your family. I can borrow the idea if I like it, but there's no pressure! We live in such a pressure filled culture, and that was a big part of RATM's point. Let's remove the pressure and enjoy what's important! Hey, wait. That's what you said. ;--

hejlyeah said...

It's like you reached into my brain and found out what I needed to hear at this moment and wrote it. So good to read, Allison!