Monday, December 16, 2013

Advent for Ordinary Moms

We are now in the third week of the Advent season.  Just reading that I am sure gets some of your blood pressure's climbing with visions of shopping lines dancing in your heads. For those of you who may not be Christian, Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas where we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child. We are also in the third week of the Christmas season--the one of shopping, attending parties and all that other good stuff.  Without boring you completely to death, the "church year" for mainline Protestants is divided into different seasons--we are in Advent right now, there is the season of Lent which leads up to Easter, but the bulk of the calendar year the church is in what we call "ordinary time." Ordinary time is a time where nothing huge is going on, but there are a steady rotation of lessons that hit on many of the different aspects of our lives with God. It is called "ordinary" because it is just that. 
But right now we are in the Advent or Christmas season, which means time for reflection and prayer, but it also means fitting in about ten times more errands, the daily commute taking a little longer each day, making baked goods and then trying not to eat/burn the calories of said baked goods, being pressured by Pinterest to create the perfect handmade Advent/countdown to Christmas calendar filled with and activity a day to teach "meaning" to your children and create "fun and magic" and all those great things.  As some of you may already know I am a pastor of a medium-sized congregation, which means that this time of the year my calendar is full and my family is required to be a bit more flexible.  So if you want me to come up with, prep and execute a thoughtful and fun craft or activity every night while also making a healthy home-cooked meal and get everyone washed and in bed on time, well you might as well induct me into the bad mother's club right now.  
Don't get me wrong, I love crafts and crafting with my child.  You only have to look around my blog for two seconds to get that vibe. And I love having fun with my daughter and creating special memories.  And we love teaching her about our faith and about the special stories of our faith. I am not knocking any of those things, because I love all of them. 
But this is my third Christmas season with a child and this year we have another on the way (yippee!) and over the past several years I have undergone a slow transformation and come to a bit of a conclusion. 
I am an awesome ordinary time mom.
If you want a over-planned and well-executed Advent calendar I am not your gal.
If you want an activity-a-day month, sorry, can't do it.
If you want to pack everyone up in the car, after dark (right around bed time) to go see lights on a school/work night, it's probably not going to happen. 
But if you want to come home randomly from pre-school/work one day in March and go for a "nature hike" around the neighborhood and talk about all God has made, I am your girl. 
If you want to go to the library and look up books on kindness in the middle of July on a Tuesday afternoon to beat the heat, I'm all about it. 
If you want to make cookies one Saturday afternoon in September just because we can, I'm there and likely have all the fixins in the pantry and leaf cookie cutters already in the arsenal. 
I have grown to be a peace with our lives not looking like a board on Pinterest during Advent because when you step back and look at the whole year, when you take into account ordinary time (which by the way takes up MOST of the calendar year), I pretty much nail it.  That doesn't mean that I am perfect, it means that we have found a pace and a rhythm that works for us to create special moments as a family, to do special activities together and to teach our families values and faith stories.  And no one is getting stressed out about it.  I am an awesome ordinary time mom--and you know what?  Ordinary time takes up way more of the calendar and (hopefully) way more of my child's memories and understanding of who they are and who we are as a family. 
And being an awesome "ordinary time mom" has made me a better Advent mom.  I can't track down 25 books, wrap them and remember every night to unwrap one in a meaningful and snuggly way by the fire.  But I can, every night at bedtime read The Story of Christmas, taking the time to sing "Away in the Manger" on the page where baby Jesus is lying on the hay, because it's my daughter's favorite. 
I can't do fun activity after fun activity each and every night (we have six church Christmas parties to attend this week people--six!), but I can make sure that like all the other evenings of the year dinner is (mostly) healthy and (semi) on time.  I can make sure that we pray before bed and that our prayers reflect what is happening in our lives, in our world and in our faith. And on the weekend we will sneak in a Christmas light watching stroll around the neighborhood with friends, we will do a movie night snuggled in jammies, but we will do them at our ordinary time pace. 
I am not writing this for the moms that can and will do all those special activities each and every day--more power to you, certainly I have no judgment and probably have more than a few high-fives to pass around.  I am writing this for the ordinary time moms--those of you that need permission to let go of the seasonal expectations and be the awesome mom you are year round, at the pace you do it at year round this Advent season.  Because most of the year is ordinary and most of our lives are ordinary and the faith story of the season is certainly about a God that not only digs the ordinary, but preferred to burrow down deep into the ordinary of this world through a small child, born not of royalty but of ordinary people. 

This year's Santa picture from our church Christmas festival, of which we all showed up, looking decent,
and matching and didn't plan a single bit of it.  I call that a WIN!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Woah, Baby!

Guess what? Spring 2014 we'll be welcoming a new family member! 
And we can't wait!