Friday, January 16, 2015

Baby Steps and Joy in January

Well, it's the middle of January.

The excitement and celebration from the Christmas Season is but a memory, the tinsel is retired for another year, kids are back to school, and life has returned to a relative "normal" again.

There have been years in the past where I've had a bit of the "seasonal blues" this time of year. I mean, after all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, the days following the big family gatherings and celebrations are kind of a letdown. It's kind of like planning a wedding. You spend tons of time planning, thinking about, shopping for, preparing, cooking/baking, etc. Then the big day comes (or days, depending on when/how you celebrate), and then it's done.

No more Christmas music or movies.

No more anticipation.

No more excitement.

No more baking.

No more wrapping or shopping.

It's just......over.

No wonder I've had a hard time with January in the past (I'm guessing I'm not alone...?)

I'm guessing there are several reasons that I haven't struggled with those feelings as of late. I think one of the reasons is the kids. Since they are getting older and reaching an age where they actually will remember Christmas celebrations, there's more of a feeling that it's not about me anymore. It's about them. I want them to fondly remember Christmas, but also what happens after Christmas.

I want them to enjoy life for what it is, not just because there's a fancy tree with presents underneath it in our living room.

There's beauty in all of life - even the not-so-awesome times, and I pray that I am showing them that by my actions and attitudes. It's a learning process and I doubt I'll ever "arrive". But I can strive for constant improvement.

The other day we were on a long-ish road trip back from Pierre. My dad is in the SD State House of Representatives and got sworn in on Tuesday. On our way back home we had snacks and drinks. We had just passed an exit when my delightful and darling 5 year old son said those inevitable words: "Mom, I have to go potty."


I made an exasperated face, sighed a huge sigh, then said with dread and disgust in my voice, "You're kidding me, right?"

He looked at me and with a very soft and sorry voice "No mommy, I really have to go."

I don't know if it was the look on his face, his sweet and honest response, or something else completely. But something hit me.

I really looked and sounded like I was annoyed and maybe even angry that he had to go. The thing is, I wasn't angry. I wasn't even really very annoyed. Sure, it's an inconvenience to stop  on the side of the road for him to go, but that's not his fault. Nor is it his problem. I was more like "exaggeratedly over-reacting". It wasn't necessarily meant for him to feel bad that he had to go.

But he didn't know that. All he knew is how I looked and what I said.

I was reminded of how I felt when my dad had the same reaction when I was a kid and had to go to the bathroom when we were on a road trip. I now know that he wasn't actually mad at me. It was simply the way he reacted. I was also reminded of how I feel when my husband reacts that way about some things. I feel terrible, even though I truly know it's just a reaction - not that he's angry in any way.

So, I determined to change the way I react when one of the kids needs to go to the bathroom when we are on the road.

Instead of giving them a reaction like I have countless times, I'm going to instead look at them, find
out how badly they need to go (i.e. can it wait until the next place to stop or do we need to pull over and "pee like a farm boy/girl") and deal with it without giving them the slightest indication that it might be an inconvenience or that I could possibly be angry about nature calling at that particular moment.

It seems like a small thing, but when that realization hit me and I dealt with myself on it, I felt better about the mother I am, and about the leader and encourager I aspire to be in their lives. I need to continue to better myself, and in doing so will help them to become better people as well.

So even though it's January and it's easy to get some seasonal "blues", it's baby steps like this that help me to realize that life is surely beautiful.

Even when we have to stop on the side of the road to pee in the winter.

Hopefully the kids will catch on to my attitude and notice that joy in everything that comes our way. Not just in January. Or December. But all year long.


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