The Perfect Gift

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!” -The Grinch

****

Christmas. I love everything about it. The festive decorating, baking, the lights, elf on the shelf, wrapping presents, Christmas carols, gingerbread houses, trimming the tree. I love it so much that every year I overwhelm myself with activities, events, and traditions because I want my children to “experience the magic” of Christmas.

I know I am not alone here when I say I get carried away in all the Christmas craziness. Admittedly, somedays I lose sight of the real reason we celebrate Christmas- the birth of Jesus. I fill my calendar with crafts and baking, gingerbread house creating, parades, concerts, Santa visits and more to make each year full of memories for my children, all the while stressing myself to the max.

So here I was on a Saturday lugging my three children by myself to lunch with Santa at the firehouse. We’d already seen Santa last weekend with his reindeer because Hello? MAGICAL!  There, I had traumatized my toddler because, he will want to see a picture of himself with Santa one day! I mean, doesn’t every child have a screaming Santa picture? (totally kidding, don’t judge). But back to the firehouse, another Christmas “to-do” I added to the list because fire trucks, hot chocolate and Santa sounds fun, right?

If there is one thing I have learned about parenting, is that nothing ever goes as planned. And sometimes these activities sound much better in my head. We arrived and waited in the long line to see Santa. Again. It was cold, crowded and very loud.  My littlest refused to walk and DID NOT want to see Santa. He was hungry, crabby, and tired. The best combination. My girls were indifferent about the whole thing. And I began to question, what am I even doing here, honestly?

There we were standing in this crowded room of Christmas mayhem, stressed and crabby, making “magical Christmas memories,” (insert sarcasm here) when my four year old pulled at my jacket. I bent down while still holding my crying toddler, and she quietly said, “Mom, this isn’t what Christmas is about. You know, Santa. It is about Baby Jesus’s birthday. He was born on Christmas.”

The weight of her words nearly knocked me over. Truth spoken from a four year old. I squeezed her hand and smiled. Both humbled and proud. Humbled that it took words from a four year old to remind me that this Christmas fluff doesn’t matter. And proud that she KNOWS the true meaning of Christmas. She IS  listening to me. “Oh, sweetie,” I said, “that is so true! Thank you for reminding me of that.” Thank you, Jesus, I prayed, for this moment and for the words from my precious one.

If you are paying attention, your children can teach you more than you ever imagined. I learned a valuable lesson that day. One I am proud to say came from my daughter. A truth I preach to my children, but apparently don’t always practice. That none of this stuff really matters. The toys, the events, the elf on the shelf, the Santas. They hold zero eternal value. But Jesus does. He came for the world to save you and me. And that, THAT. is what I need to focus my eyes on. That one night in Bethlehem, the Savior was born, and He would change eternity. The King of all Kings brought hope by coming into the world in the simplest of ways, in a stable, born amongst the animals. So for now, all the other trimmings and trappings, the ribbons and wrapping can wait; for I’m basking in the glory of the birth of God’s perfect son.

xo, Becca

P.S. If you are reading this and have never heard about the birth of Jesus or have no idea about his Great Love for you, I encourage you to read Luke chapter 2 in The Bible. And then let’s meet for coffee to discuss.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

 

 

Advertisements

Both.

Ever since my oldest daughter started 4k, if you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up she’d always say a “mom.” Of course this filled my heart with joy because what better compliment than that, right? For career day in kindergarten, she went with her baby strapped to her tummy and diaper bag slung over her shoulder.

A few months ago, she came home from school with a drawing of her with a dolphin and declared, “I’m going to be a dolphin trainer when I grow up!” Of course I thought this was great and a creative career choice. “I need to learn to jump off the diving board, you know, for when I am a dolphin trainer,” she’d said this past summer. She even received a dolphin trainer barbie as a gift. “You know that means you’ll have to move far away from mom and dad,” my husband said to her at one point. “I know, but you’ll come visit me,” she answered nonchalantly.

A few weeks ago for career night at Wednesday night church, she eagerly planned to wear a snorkel mask and bring a stuffed dolphin. But that evening as we prepared to leave, she became quiet and worry swept over her face. Something was wrong, I thought. Her voice quivered a bit as she spoke, “Mom?” “What’s the matter?” I asked. Her voice was soft and slow. “Well, I think I want to be a mom instead.”

In the split second before responding, a million thoughts raced through my head. Here is one of those defining moments in parenthood, I thought. One of those times where my answer is really important.

*****

I wanted to tell her that I wouldn’t trade the path I chose for anything, but you, my daughter, can choose your own path. It doesn’t have to be mine, and I’ll love you and support you through it all. It’s okay to want to have a career that you love and kids too. Or have kids and no career. Being a mom is a joy that cannot be explained, but it’s okay if you don’t want to be a mom when you grow up. It’s okay if you do.

To my children, I’ll always be mom first, before anything else. While, I am okay with that and I love being a mom, that’s not all that I am. And you, my child, if you choose to be a mother- that will not be all that you are either.

You are strong, smart, capable and confident. You can absolutely be “other things” without betraying your motherhood. Be a dolphin trainer, a scientist, a teacher, a doctor, a writer- please, chase after those dreams and fight for them. Those goals and dreams, that desire to “be” is what makes you, you. You don’t have to give up on your dreams you are running after in order to be a mom. You are not less of a mother if you have a career, and you aren’t more of a mom if you don’t.

If you decide to be a career mom, you are not alone if you are exhausting yourself trying to give both your work and your family one hundred percent. Here’s a little secret-whatever you are giving to each side- it’s enough. Let the rest of it just be. And breathe, mama.

And if you decide to be a stay-at-home-mom you are not the only one on a difficult day wondering, as you stand over the sink eating cold mac n’ cheese for lunch with your toddler begging for “uppy,” while hearing yet another sibling fight, how can I do this one more day? 

Mothering is in no way glamorous, career or no career aside. It’s marathon nursing sessions, a sink of dirty dishes, piles of laundry, in which you actually ponder if death-by-laundry is possible. It’s cold coffee, yoga pants, lunch packing and grocery store tantrums. It is holy work.

But it is also bedtime stories, sand castle building and Candyland playing. It’s singing littles to sleep, pillow fort making, sloppy kiss and gigantic hug giving. Its bouncy curls, homemade crafts, Christmas concerts, nature walks and piggy back rides. And a house full of laughter.

You see, becoming a mother adds a layer of richness to your life; it fills a part of your heart that you didn’t even know exisited. But it doesn’t take away from who you were before. That person still exists too. She may become lost in motherhood for a while, but she’s still there.

*****

I wanted to tell her all of this, but instead, I looked her in eyes with a smile on my face and said, ” My sweet girl, you don’t have to choose.” Her head perked up with a glimmer in her eyes and a slight smile crept across her face. “I can be both?” She asked. “Yes, you can be both!” I answered. With a sigh of relief and a huge grin on her face, “okay,” she said excitedly, “then I want to be both!”

Satisfied and joyful, off she went- the future dolphin trainer AND mom. And my heart is full. ❤️

xo, Becca

 

 

Great Moms and Grocery Stores

An elderly woman stopped me in the egg aisle at the grocery store this week in the middle of my toddler’s screaming meltdown. He was in a timeout for throwing the pack of hot dogs at his sister’s face.

To be honest, when she came towards me, I wanted to turn the other way-the last thing I needed was someone giving me parenting advice during this “situation,” or smiling telling me, “it goes so fast,” (because yes, in this moment, I hope it does) or “one day you’ll miss this,” (because I seriously doubt I’ll miss screaming children in the middle of the grocery store), Instead, I took a deep breath and braced myself for whatever snarky comment was coming.

But instead, you know what she told me? “You are a great mom.” She didn’t even know me, and yet, here she was speaking truth into me at the exact moment I needed to hear it. And if I am honest, some days I feel anything but.

***

Motherhood is a lot of pushing off selfishness and pride, self sacrificing to the brink of a complete breakdown, and daily mental and physical exhaustion. It is also a lot of praying for grace, patience, joy and love. So often I feel unworthy, undeserving, and unqualified for motherhood. I know these are lies that the enemy uses to taunt me, weigh me down, and guilt me. I know these are untruths, but yet, somehow I still allow myself to believe them when I am having a hard day of mothering.

I made an ABC list recently to remind myself who God says I am. When I feel like I cannot do this gig one more minute or feel burdened by lies, I remember the truths of who God says I am. After reciting these, a few deep breaths, and perhaps a sip of coffee or a piece of chocolate, I carry on. So I promise, you can too.

Anointed

Beautiful

Chosen

Delivered

Even me

Forgiven

Grace given

His child

In his sight-perfect

Justified

Kingdom bound

Loved

Mercy given

New life

Owned by God

Paid with a price

exQuisite

Redeemed

Saved by sacrifice

Trusted

United

Victorious

Wisdom thru Christ

eXempt from hell

Younique

Zero without God

****

I smiled at the woman, thinking to myself how grateful I was that I didn’t walk away. Tears filled my eyes, “thank you,” I said. She reminded me of a truth I often don’t allow myself to believe or forget amid the chaos of motherhood.

She had no idea how much I needed to hear those words, how it encouraged me all day, or how it snapped me out of my frustration over (another) public toddler meltdown. So to the woman at the grocery store, thank you, you will not soon be forgotten.

I am not sharing this story in anyway to “toot my own horn” or to seek compliments on my mothering. I am certainly “a work in progress” with way too many flaws to list. But I am sharing for moms in this same stage as me, where both the best part and hardest part of motherhood is being needed all.the.time, when you are so exhausted by the weight of motherhood, you just want to curl up in a ball and ugly cry, and where your life, time, and body is not your own-you are a great mom. Don’t believe the lies the enemy puts inside your head or the snarky comments from naysayers. Remember the ABC Truth list of who God says you are. You are not failing, you are enough and your are worthy.

I am also sharing for the moms past this stage in life with grown kids and empty nests, look for the young moms at the store, in a crowd, or at a restaurant. Build her up, encourage her, smile and say, “I understand.” I promise, you will make us cry and our day. ❤️

xo, Becca