With Christmas approaching, I can say my stress level is starting to rise. I am doing my best to keep it at a minimum, but it seems like every time I think I've bought the last present or been to the grocery store for the last ingredient, another item creeps up. The to-do list gets two items added for each thing crossed off and my shoulders start working their way up to my neck. For some reason (namely, my three children) I do not keep mental track of things like I used to and I just start to get stressed that something important is going to slip through the cracks. And in all of this, I get stressed that I am getting stressed and forgetting the meaning behind Christmas.
Due to the various errands and to dos of the season, my children have found themselves in the van and in the grocery carts quite a bit. Drug from here to there, they start to get cranky, then I get cranky. They disobey, I punish. They get mad, I get madder. It's really quite the holiday love fest and I get so disappointed. I want to be super mom, get it all done, have all the patience in the world and be doing the fun Christmasy things I feel I am supposed to do as super mom. This is not to be.
We have been trying to crack down a bit on the defiant behavior anyway, because since the baby has been born, the kids have taken to ignoring directions and throwing fits when we ask them to do stuff. For awhile I think Shawn and I were too tired to care, but recently we have teamed up to get back on track and well, the kids are not liking the follow through and frankly, neither am I...it feels like they are always being punished, because the are pushing every line there is! I am considering letting Gavin take up a permanent residence on his bed since he seems to be sent there so often.
And so...in an effort to make everyone feel better, I have been trying to make a consciencous effort to do Christmas things with my kids and find opportunities to some of the things they want to do and not just fulfill my own agenda. We have made some salt dough ornaments, we went to the children's museum, we went out ice skating, and went to the toys at McDonalds (this is a biggy, cuz they love it and it's just a bit too much for me on a normal day).
It's been nice to feel like I am putting them first. I know in the back of my mind, my kid's are far from deprived and loved well, but lately with all the defiance and disobedience from them, i think we have all felt a lack of joy around here. I am working hard to choose joy and put first things first. Sadly, for me it really is work. I am hoping it soon becomes habit.
Today, after a day where the kids went to the children's museum and got to go ice skating, Gavin got out of bed and was throwing some toy down the hall, thinking no one was nearby. I was so frustrated...a full day of fun for him, it's way past his bed time and he is totally disobeying the rule to stay in bed (might I mention here, he had already had two warnings from his dad to go to sleep and it was about 2 hours past bed time). I was ready to make the kid's life miserable. I snuck around the corner and asked, "Just what do you think you are doing?"
Gavin made a bee line away from me and started crying...my heart sunk and then lifted slightly. It sunk, because he was obviously sad he got caught and knew that meant trouble. But it also lifted, because he knew he had done something wrong. I didn't have to punish him for him to know. He was already sad. He was fully aware of what he'd done and what it meant.
I had him come out to the couch and we talked. He knew what he did and that he should have been in trouble. I told him, it wasn't going to happen tonight. Instead, I held him, rubbed his back and sat quietly looking at the Christmas tree with him.
As I sat there, I thanked God for my little boy. I thanked him for how many times he chose to talk to me as I guiltily cried and ran from Him, knowing I deserved punishment. I thanked Him for Jesus who took my punishment. I thanked him for a Christmas moment where on a very small scale I could show my son the mercy and forgiveness His Son has given us.
I thanked Him that because of Jesus, I could choose joy tonight, for me and my son.