12/23/2016 I’m reposting this as a reminder to enjoy the peace and love of Christmas with your families as Mary did. I’m quite certain the stable was not perfect.
I catch myself doing it from time to time; you know, trying to make a holiday or other special day perfect. I’m certainly not a perfectionist, but for some reason these ideals creep into my mind around holidays like Christmas or Easter and when I am hosting birthday parties for my children. I find myself getting so caught up in these ideals that it causes me stress which results in my own unhappiness and grumpiness, and worse yet, it steals the happiness from the people whom I am trying to bring joy. It’s a vicious cycle.
It was the day before Easter Sunday this year when I started feeling it. I had not slept well the night before, I had to get the kids to an egg hunt, bake the bunny cake (which was a new thing for us this year, but we were all looking forward to it) and dye the eggs. Not to mention tidy the house in preparation for my brother and his wife who would be here for dinner on Sunday. Oh, and finish the routine laundry and prepare a regular Saturday dinner. My daughter entered the kitchen with anticipation inquiring, “Are we dying eggs or baking the bunny cake first?” I must have worn the stress on my face and probably didn’t realize I let out a frustrated sigh. That’s when sadness appeared on her face and she said to me, “Why aren’t you happy?” Whoa! What? Yikes, what am I doing? OK, I know what I need…a power nap, but there is really not time and I just had a cup of coffee so sleep won’t happen. I really just need to relax and maybe prioritize. What is the priority? Eggs or bunny cake? Neither. The priority is to build happy memories with my girls. It is for them to see the love of Jesus as we celebrate Easter, not the grumpiness of Mommy. We colored the eggs together and then prepared the cake batter. Things worked out. Instead of having a homemade dinner that night, we ended up having Chipotle for dinner on our way back from the grocery store, and that’s okay. I got some other things done while, get this, they decorated the bunny cake all by themselves. It looked great and tasted delicious!
The very next week as I was getting my daughter’s 6th Birthday Tea Party ready and I started to feel it again….the desire for it to be perfect. The day before the party my oldest, confident after the success of the Bunny Cake, made and decorated the birthday cupcakes all by herself. My birthday girl and I set out the activities and filled the favor bags together. I had put off buying the flowers and balloons until the day of the party so they would be fresh. The morning of the tea party, I started feeling the frantic feeling again of having things tidy, prepared and perfect. My birthday girl was cleaning off the coffee table and brought me a bookmark which she thought was mine so I could put it away. “Keep Calm and Pray” were the words on the bookmark. That was all I needed for a reality check. I said a quick little prayer and remembered that ten years from now, or even tomorrow, it won’t matter if I had the fruit cut in cute little shapes to match the sandwiches. The party doesn’t have to be perfect to bring my sweet little six year old and her friends happiness.
Am I cured? Will I never again stress about an event or occasion? Probably not. I do think I will catch myself early enough to keep calm and pray, and remember that happiness does not equal perfection.