The Christmas Tree is up. The lights are on. The ornaments are hung. The stockings are ready. Candles scented with pine and peppermint are being burnt. There is a fire crackling in the fireplace. Cookies have been baked. Fudge has been made (and quickly consumed). Carols have been sung.
Still, I'm not feeling it.
I'm just not FEELING Christmas. Or, maybe it's not just Christmas....I want to be able to revel in every season. But it all seems to fly by so quickly. It's hard to grab hold of any part of it and really embrace it when it seems most of my time is spent cleaning up, correcting, policing, disciplining, comforting, directing.
You know those Rice Krispies commercials? The one where they are making Rice Krispies treats and everything is in black and white except the cereal box? The scene is soft and joyful. Happy faces carefully stir the krispies and the marshmallows. Nostalgia inducing music is playing. Sweet voices gently rise over the melody, accented by giggles.
That's not what it's like at my house.
Rice Krispies scatter the floor on the first stir and I get exasperated. Marshmallows end up in hair and there are screams of panic about being "STICKY!!!" Someone can't reach the counter so they push someone else off the stool complaining that no one is taking turns. Both someones cry. Sets of little feet run through the kitchen in pursuit of one another, crushing said Rice Krispies and tracking them through the house. I throw my hands in the air and say, "Everyone just leave the kitchen and let me do this myself!!" And another fun cooking experience with Mama ends in scattered kids and pursed lips.
Rice Krispies would never sell another box if they made their commercials at my house.
Please, someone tell me it's like that at your house too. Lie to me if you must.
It's times like that when I wonder where my joy is. Surely I have just misplaced it. Maybe I put it down somewhere between wiping peanut butter off the toilet and sending the three year old to time out for the 18th time of the morning and just forgot to go and pick it back up. I can't let myself lose it. I have to always remember to go back and pick it up again. Otherwise, I may not make it through tomorrow.
So, that's my mission for this season. Finding my joy. And it really shouldn't be hard. Even with all the trials and frustrations that come with being a mom of many, there is so much to be joyful about.
So when Asa rolls his eyes and tries to talk his way out when I ask him to do something, I will gently correct him and find joy in having a son who is such a quick thinker and master negotiator.
When Julia dawdles on her chores and doesn't get them done until well after chore time is over because she is busy playing with Juniper, I will hug her and find joy in the loving relationship she has with her baby sister.
When Ethan once again ends a day without finishing even half of his schoolwork, I will smile and find joy in the progress he has made this year academically, even without the focus I would like for him to have.
When Astrid's drama and persistence drives me to the point of tears, I will sit down, hold her, and find joy in her expressiveness. Because although the ferocity of her emotions sometimes wears me out, the strength of her loving heart is just as fierce and can melt me....if I let it.
When Ezra tells me once again, "I don't love you!" or "You are NOT my favorite!", I'll just tell him that I love him like crazy and find joy that my three year old is behaving like a three year old, and cherish this precious time between toddlerhood and childhood, when a little one is changing and learning so much every day.
When Juni follows me around the house crying, just wanting to be held or nursed, I will stop what I am doing and remember that she is not a baby forever, and I will hold her, embracing the joy that comes in the form of wet baby kisses and a soft warm head on my shoulder.
I will do my very best to FEEL every season, every day, every moment. And at this time of year, when JOY is on every greeting card and ornament, glowing in lights and hearts, and offered through words and deeds, I will look for it.
Lord, help me to remember, even in the most difficult moments of each day, that I really don't have to look very far.
(as always, just click on the photo of the splashing cutie to see all the posts in order)