Every Hallmark movie and half of the blogs out there say that now that you’re married and have a baby, this is going to be the perfect Christmas!! You can be the mom who has it all! A spotless, grand home, decorated with sophistication and elegance (yes please). A happy and healthy baby, and a picture-perfect husband (swoon). Charming, wrapped presents for all family and friends, neatly set under the tree (go you). Now all I will have to do is rush around to store after store (good thing I get so much sleep these days), stay up all night wrapping those presents (in between feeding the baby), attend every holiday party in a stylish new dress (complete with new slobber stains), oh, and just let my baby fend for himself during the day so I can cook, clean, and shop. Perfect.
But, as Advent actually approached and I began to search for where my family would find peace this holiday season, the reality of my life as a mother set in, and a stark contrast came to mind:
The world’s first Christmas: A warm, glowing, hay-filled manger. Empty, because Mary and Joseph are busy snuggling close to their newborn. Baby Jesus, The Prince of Peace.
Take the time right now to close your eyes for just one minute and imagine the kind of peace the Prince of peace must have brought to that little scene on the very first Christmas day. Mary and Joseph didn’t have much, materially speaking, on that day, but they didn’t need anything more because they had just received one of the world’s most priceless gifts: new Life. And they were content. As I reflect upon the first Christmas, I realize that this is the kind of peace, contentment, and simplicity that motherhood has been trying to teach me for the past 7 months.
Even before Marie Kondo was all the rage, I liked the idea of simplifying my life. Now that I am approaching our first Christmas with my son, my first Christmas with a child, I realize that I’ve been blessed to have received a crash course in how to simplify my life. And I couldn’t be more thankful.
Maybe you can relate to finding yourself in a home with that Christmas tree that has been up but still isn’t fully decorated, or those cute Advent traditions you were going to start with your little one that never actually happened, or maybe the untouched ingredients for homemade ornaments that are still in your cupboard. Instead, you’re holding your sleeping child, staring into their sweet little face.
Children teach us about priorities. If a little one had to decide between any thing in the world or his/her family, we all know there would be no hesitation. I think that we could all learn from them during this season. Children teach us how to bask in the little moments and really soak in life. One of my favorite things to do with my joy-filled son is spend time outside. He was just made for the outdoors. When we go outside, he will throw his head back and point his chubby little cheeks straight to the sky, with this look of pure elation on his face. He is delighting in the beauty of nature. I try to take that moment and be truly present with him, either enjoying the sky alongside him, or looking at his face, soaking in the joy coming from his soul. I am constantly amazed at all my little son has already taught me, and how I am so much better because of him. He truly makes the world a better place by bringing joy everywhere he goes.
Honestly, in my early days of motherhood, I resisted this simplifying, and I resisted hard. I would try to be just as productive as I was before baby, and when I wasn’t (which was almost always), I would be so disappointed in myself. I came to realize that I was placing too much of my worth as a mother and wife in how productive I was. Since then, I have been on a journey of trying to teach myself that my life, especially now as a mother, is all about how well I love.
Now I am trying to embrace this simplicity and be thankful for it, not fight it, resent it, or be disappointed. Instead of rushing around and ignoring my family this holiday season, I did a bit of online shopping here and there, handmade some presents with my husband while the baby napped, turned down a few parties, made more time for snuggling, playing with, and just delighting in my baby. For the Advent season leading up to Christmas, I decided to intentionally simplify my life even more by giving up things, such as Instagram, that distract me from my family.
Maybe in these days leading up to Christmas, no matter where you are in life, you can try to think like a child. Stare into the dazzling lights of a beautiful Christmas tree, laugh without inhibitions, spend time to discover something new, allow ourselves to feel the joy and comfort that the face of a loved one brings, or simply get lost in the beauty that surrounds us each and every day.