I feel the need to write this article as a bit of a disclaimer. I’m working really hard on being more intentional, more present, more engaged with my family. I’m working on doing less, committing to less, and enjoying more. As words, these are all idealistic concepts. They sound amazing and obvious (“Yes, I’d like to have less stress and more joy! Of course I can put down my phone and say no to the party I don’t want to go to!”). But reality is much different, and that’s something that I want to acknowledge.
Sometimes I get things right, like really right. And when I do it feels amazing. This week, we were planning on driving to McAdenville, aka Christmas Town USA, one that my parents drove us to each Christmas in my childhood. The dark, cold night driving around hundreds of homes with twinkling lights was magical. My husband wanted to take the kids and I was excited to continue the tradition, but a small voice in the back of my head was nervous (a slow car ride with a four-year-old and twin two-year-olds does have some red flags). We packed food and coffee and put it in our GPS to find it was an hour away. I had forgotten that I now lived on the other side of town and it wasn’t as close as I remembered. Did we want to spend two hours in the car with the kids tonight after work/school? We started googling frantically and found another option, the Speedway Lights, only thirty minutes away. Reviews were mixed, half “Long lines! Don’t dare go!” and the other half, “Amazing! A must see!” We took a deep breath, hopped in the car, and went for it…and when we got there, we waited behind three cars, the kids oo-ed and ah-ed the whole time, and the family was happy. It wasn’t what I initially envisioned and it required some last minute flexibility, but it was magical. This, was us getting it right. Once upon a time, I would have refused anything that involved a car ride. Too many things that could go wrong, too many unknowns, too much risk for inconsolable children. I would have put my foot down- no way! But now that I’ve slowed myself down, allowed myself to breathe more, and controlled my anxiety, we were able to jump, go, and have FUN!
But often, I only get things semi-right, or quite honestly flat out wrong, and have to stop, close my eyes and shake my head, and take a really deep breath. Yesterday, with the threat of having to work long shifts this upcoming weekend, I felt pressure to meal prep to get us through the next four days of being gone long hours. Lately I dread cooking, because the kids want to be part of it, and right now they are too little to be around hot oils, a hot oven, and sharp knives. They want to be held while I cook or they want to help, and it doesn’t work very well right now. My solution? The good ol’ television. The kids reached up for me, and I turned them to the sweet, embracing glow of the screen instead. They watched Frosty the Snowman and Frozen over and over all morning long until it was time for lunch, while their mom ran around the kitchen on her phone looking at recipes and dicing veggies. I wasn’t present, I was ignoring them, and I was providing hours of screen time. It was all the “wrongs,” and yet when my husband came home, he commented on how calm and peaceful the house was; how great that the kids were so well behaved. They were! Despite the fact that they had an electronic babysitter most of the day, the five of us did bath time together, read books, and went to bed without a fuss. Mom and Dad sat down with a smile at the end of the night, and everyone slept in peace with sugarplums dancing in their heads. Maybe sometimes wrong is just a little bit right.
The lesson I’m beginning to realize? Some days, we can pull off a fairy tale, other days, we watch the fairy tale on TV. And it’s okay! What’s important is that we try to be present when we can, and seek joy for ourselves and those around us. How we make that happen, doesn’t quite matter…
Christmas lights at the
Charlotte Motor Speedway