(because do parents ever really get a break?)
Welp, it’s back to Ordinary Time….which means back to school, which means back to work for the hubby, which means back to mom vs. four again. Sigh. Here’s to some necessary reminiscing of the Christmastide.
We traveled to New England for Christmas, spending a few days with my folks and then a few days with the in-law’s. Our kids thoroughly enjoy seeing the grandparents, and there were beaucoup de presents to be had. But man, it is a rough trip. No offense to anyone reading this that may be from Connecticut, but there is ALWAYS TRAFFIC IN CONNECTICUT. It normally takes eight hours to make the drive, but we have learned to add on two extra hours to our itinerary, because well, four littles, and no matter which route we take, we always seem to end up in a jam somewhere in Connecticut. At least we can pass the time with the minivan’s DVD player. Now before you pass judgment, I usually abide by clear screen time limits, but the screen time quota was definitely blown on this trip. Hey, anything to get us through Connecticut.
To further complement the too-much-TV-dilemma, the weather was absolutely crummy. Certainly not a magical white Christmas this year. It was too warm for snow, but too drizzly and raw to play outside. My husband came up with a perfect outing: Bowling. We found a place that was actually the same alley when my husband was a kid….and judging from the outside, I don’t think they have ever done any renovations since. But it was so, so fun to introduce our brood to the sport. And the best part was when the man at the shoe check-in looked at us, four little ones milling around our legs, and gruffly asked (but smiling all the same), “Ahr all these youhrs? Wha-did-you-do, have ‘em all at once?” Nothing says old school Boston with a sassy comment and snicker, complete with the notorious accent. It was awesome.
We returned home a couple days before New Year’s, which gave us some relaxing time to unpack and unwind from all the driving. And miracles of miracles, everyone slept in on January 1st (anything past 7AM counts as sleeping in chez nous). Despite missing the morning Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, we calmly figured we would just go to an evening Mass. However, as our minivan approached the church that night we were overcome by a sinking feeling: the parking lot was empty. We actually drove to two other parishes and there was no evening Mass at either one. It felt like déjà vu in Connecticut again….driving but not really getting to our destination. In any case, even though it was not intentional, Happy New Year’s Whoops to us. At least I got to meet two other lovely ladies at Confession a few days later.
I’ve been reading so many thoughtful blogs regarding the New Year and fresh inspirations, and many writers have chosen a word for 2015. I have not really been able to decide on one word for the year, but some phrases keep coming up in prayer: Peace amidst the chaos. Fear not. What words inspire you for 2015?
Looking at little Joseph sitting on the floor playing with a rattle, I can’t help but reflect upon Christmas time last year. I was barely into the third trimester, but already uncomfortably big and quite self-conscious. I was also so mentally scattered and anxious. I endured the obvious-but-never-helpful comments about how large I was getting, the raised eyebrows and I-feel-sorry-for-her looks in the supermarket, and I grumbled incessantly about the pains of pregnancy all the way up until I went into labor. And here he is this year, spending his first Christmas with his three crazy siblings.
Of all my kids, he is the best imitator of faces. I scrunch up my nose at him and he returns the goofy look. Then he raises his eyebrows and turns his mouth into an “O”. It is the Cutest. Face. Ever….as if to say, “Just laugh, everything is fine, Mom.” Oh sure, he has caused me the expected sleep deprivation, he has added to an ever more chaotic experience at meal time, and his cries have rattled me on more than one occasion, but his smiley face and bubbling laugh also remind me that all is well, simply because he is here. Peace amidst the chaos. Fear not. How I wish that was my mantra a year ago, but by God, by His grace, has helped me to sort through my anxieties.
Because we didn’t have Christmas in our house this year (we were at my parents’ house), we decided to make our own very special Epiphany celebration with presents. It was a bit of a spontaneous plan, but it worked out beautifully. We surprised the kids with a few presents under the tree because 1) we wanted to remind everyone of the story of the Magi bringing gifts to the Baby Jesus, and 2) it was so sweet to see our own kids experience the magic of Christmas in their own home, even if it wasn’t exactly December 25th. That Christmas morning joy is an intimate moment for families, and I am really glad we decided to preserve it despite all our travels.
Elisabeth: Mom can you help me with my PJ’s? The zipper is in traffic.
Me: Oh, um, OK. What does “traffic” mean?
Elisabeth: “Traffic” means it is stuck and can only move slowly.
And I half expected her to say her zipper was stuck in Connecticut.
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