All is calm


A peacefully napping baby, a mellow (and temporarily clean) living room, and knitting by holiday lights as the dawn arises. The calm before the holiday storm.

(Knitting is just a basic double-stranded garter stitch blanket, using up some acrylic I’ve had hanging around for a while. It’s not the prettiest thing, but it’ll be a fantastic toddler-sized blanket for the baby’s crib for next winter.)

On traditions and simplicity

Traditions are funny things. They are, by definition, a pattern. It’s tradition for me to put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. It’s tradition for me to give the niece and nephew an ornament each year. Every year I do the same things.

But traditions change, too. They evolve. It used to be tradition that I went to see my extended family on Christmas day up until a few years ago. Now it’s tradition to stay home and open presents and relax (because it’s something I’ve always wanted but never had as a kid). Christmas with the extended family on my mom’s side used to mean a tree you could barely see because there were so many presents piled around it. Now the tree is more simple, and there are only presents for their children (my mom and uncles and spouses) but not the grandchildren. There’s a little sadness in that for me. It isn’t the presents, though that makes me a bit sad, too. I think it’s that, as an adult, you see things differently. You know the why and how. You see things for what they really are instead of having the lens of childhood innocence to tint your view a different, happy shade.

Traditions change, and it has taken me 30 years to realize it. I can’t believe I’m finally realizing that I don’t have to follow tradition just because “it’s tradition.” I don’t have to do something if I don’t enjoy it. I don’t have to make something work just for the sake of keeping tradition. All I have to do is what makes us all happiest, and say no to the rest. No to making 10 different kinds of cookies and candies, yes to just the one or two we actually enjoy. No to the pressure of making everything hour and minute special, yes to keeping it simple and laid back (which is our style, anyway). No to letting anyone dictate what our traditions should be, yes to doing what works for us.

Just a happy, simple holiday season for probably the first time ever in my life.

Caroling, caroling

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There was a free holiday sing-a-long at the local theater today, so off we went and tucked ourselves into a small side aisle just in case we needed to dash out to the lobby with the baby if he started fussing. The afternoon was a mix of listening to the organists play on the old Wurlitzer and sing-a-long songs. The first one we sang was Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and I had to fight back tears. I don’t know what, exactly, it was that made it happen, but I hit this super emotional wall and had to fight to maintain control or else I was going to be a sobbing mess and the other people around me would probably think I’m crazy.

I read this today, and I think I’m going to post it somewhere where I might see it a lot. I need to read this over and over again. I need to read it when I’m panicking about things not being perfect and just right. I need to read it when I try to make things perfect and they fail. Over, and over, and over again.

But this year while the world rushes around you, may you hold your sweet baby in your arms and realize that on this first Christmas, your baby will find no greater joy than in you. Because you are Mommy and you make everything beautiful just by being you.

Tomorrow… tomorrow I finish up wrapping presents. They’re not the handmade holiday gifts like I have always imagined I’d give – there’s no time with a job and a little one – but so far I can at least say that the holidays are shaping up, in other ways, just as I had long hoped and dreamed for.

Impossibly necessary

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We’re… what? 12 days away from Christmas? While I’ve had the urge to make ALL the things this holiday season, today has been the “oh shit” moment where I realize that I have 12 days to do it all in. Which is, really, more like 3 days considering during the week I have zero time to get anything done and I have to cram it in over the weekend. Everything feels absolutely, impossibly necessary this year for Declan’s first Christmas even though he won’t remember any of it. I know deep down I don’t have to do it all this year. Or next year, even. I have all these hopes and dreams for future holidays and it feels like it all rides on this very one. As if the homemade ornaments and new traditions will be less meaningful if I make them next year, or even the year after, instead of now.

Everything in general feels impossibly necessary for this little one. Not just holidays. Not just the ‘firsts.’ I want to do and make everything for him. I want to have all the holiday traditions. I want him to grow up with handmade gifts, homemade birthday cakes, and so much more. I have so many emotions tied to all of these ideas and I’m not sure, anymore, what is normal and what isn’t. I don’t feel like I know who I am anymore. When I look in the mirror I certainly look like me. But I don’t feel like I’m there anymore. I feel like I’ve been replaced with someone I don’t recognize. And I cry. A lot. It’s hard to explain and I’m not sure I could adequately describe what I mean if I tried. Adjusting to this new me has been, to say the least, hard. I think everyone around me has the idea that I’ve adjusted fabulously and that I’ve stepped into motherhood perfectly, and I guess I may give off that impression, but at least internally I’m still processing. Still thinking. Still trying to find the scraps of the old me and trying to find ways to merge them with this new life of mine. I always knew motherhood would be hard, but I expected it to be hard because you’re taking care of a helpless little baby – not because it throws everything you know about yourself into a blender and then you have to try to put the pieces back together.

I’ve had to, temporarily, stop reading a lot of blogs I usually love. The ones of other mothers. The ones who get to stay home with their children. The ones who make it seem so easy. I know life isn’t perfect, and I know that blogs are just a small snapshot and not wholly inclusive of all aspects of life. I know, I know, I know this. And, yet, I still manage to look at them and feel jealous and guilty and sad that my life isn’t theirs. And that’s not how you’re supposed to live your life – I’m not supposed to live someone else’s life. I’m supposed to live mine, and do what I can with it.

I need to focus on the things I have or can make time for, rather than focusing on my lack of time thanks to having to be a working mama. I need to let go of my perfectionism because I know ultimately it won’t matter if the handmade clay ornaments look awful: they’ll be precious anyway. I need to let go of feeling like I need to compete with other people, especially other moms. I need to figure out who I am under all these layers of new emotions, which feels like an impossible task right now. I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe I’ll never figure it out.

Snowflake photo clips

magnets magnets-smallI’ve had these snowflake buttons in my craft stash for a few years now. I originally purchased them to use as a decorative accent on some felt mitten ornaments I wanted to make, but those never panned out. I tend to hoard supplies and not want to use them, but I’m trying to break that habit. Because, after all, I can generally find something similar to replace it with if I ever want it in the future.

So today I took some much-needed craft time to make a small set of snowflake photo clips. I’ve been using mini clothespins at work to hold photos at my desk with some twine, but with it being the holidays I wanted something sparkly and pretty for the home refrigerator. I had some leftover mini clothespins from another project, and some glitter tape, and a hot glue gun. This whipped up crazy fast, to say the least. The only thing I’m missing are my magnets – every time I find the package, they disappear on me. It might take tearing apart the craft room to find them again… so perhaps these will maybe be a holiday decoration for next year, instead?


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