Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Christmas Is Coming!! Christmas Is Coming!!

Well, it's official. The "Holidays" are well and truly upon us now. And now begins the tug-of-war in my life; indeed, in the lives of almost everyone I know. How do I keep this season of love and joy, this time of celebration of the birth of Christ, centered on the true meaning? How do I teach my children that Christmas is about more than gifts - in fact, it's not really even about material gifts at all? I know this is a question people have been asking for some time. It seems to be a more pertinent question every year. But I think I have found part of the problem, at least in my household. I think we cannot keep Christmas centered on love, joy, peace and Christ, and not on material wealth and gifts, when we focus the rest of the year on exactly these wrong things.

Each year about this time, it seems that people really notice how material and worldly our children have all become. But I would submit to you, reader, that the blame lies not with our children, but with us. Why shouldn't my boys ask for every toy they see on TV for Christmas? After all, their room is bursting at the seams with more toys than are in an entire third world country. They wear name-brand clothes (mostly hand-me-downs, but still). They ride in a nice car, and we live in a comfortable home with a nice yard. When they ask us why Nate and I go to work, we tell them it is to make money for the things we need. Then they see the way that we live - not in excess, certainly, but comfortably - and they make their own judgments about why we work, and how we define "need." With our lives, with our choices, and with every purchase we make or commercial we comment upon, we teach our children that every day is, at least in part, about making our way in this world. Why should Christmas be any different?

So we have made a point, in our home, of spending time together, of enjoying one another's company, and celebrating those values we want our children to particularly treasure at Christmas time. And perhaps if we live our lives a little more centered on love, joy, peace and Christ for 364 days, it won't take quite so much effort for the Christmas spirit next year.

Monday, November 28, 2005


As we begin the Holiday season, traditionally full of thanks and happiness and love, I am reminded of a time when I thought I would never truly feel happy again, and I am so thankful to have left that behind. I struggled mightily with postpartum depression after the birth of my oldest son. I have tried as hard as I could to put my feelings and experiences during that time into words, and below is something I wrote some time ago that does the best job:

"I have seen rock bottom. I did not really crash -- it would be more accurate to say that I brushed it, and turned back up again.

I have been in that place where the light is so far away that it seems only a dream, the creation of an overwrought imagination; and felt that pain that hurts so deep inside it seems no one can ever reach it, like you'll never be warm all the way through again.

I have logically counted my blessings, and seen that if happiness were like a scale, with trials and tribulations balanced against blessings, I should never have a reason to cry. And cried anyway, for no reason at all.

And then one day, as I stared eternity in the face, as I sat nose to nose with rock bottom, for some reason known only to God, and through His grace, I was able to turn around and claw my way into the walking world, into laughter and sunshine and friendship and the innocent love of my children. I was able to smile.

But sometimes, some days, for no apparent reason, I can sense that rock bottom is not as far away as I think it is. I must watch my steps, and guard my heart, and pray. Because the abyss is deep, and I do not know if I am strong enough to climb out again."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Chaos Unleashed

You know, just when it seems that I am on a roll, that I have this whole "life" thing figured out, something new and different comes up, a wrench in the works, so to speak. For example, I am specifically talking about this whole "working mother" thing. Now, I make no claim to be the world's best mother - I'm certainly not the mom baking cookies from scratch and dressing you in your homemade costume in the sparkling house. (As an aside, does that mom even really exist?) I'm not even, truly, the mom that keeps the house clean enough for company to drop in unexpectedly. At least, not company that would care that the leaves on the floor didn't just blow in; in fact, in my house, those leaves may have been laying there since October. Of 2003. But I do love my children, and I am there for them, and they are well fed and clothed and clean. And I like my job - don't get me wrong. I enjoy working as a legal assistant at a small law firm. I'm busy, and challenged, and every day is slightly different, and it's fabulous. But this balancing act - it's hard. Don't let anyone ever tell you differently. That mom that looks like she's got it all together? She's either faking it, or else her nanny and housekeeper have it all together for her. The past few days, two of my three boys have been sick. And that's hard. I swore I would never be the mom that dosed her children up with Tylenol and sent them to school anyway. And of course, the laundry is still not caught up. And the sink is full of dirty dishes, while the dishwasher is full of clean ones. And the boys' room looks like the aftermath of Tornado Rexrode. And I'm behind at work. And tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I'm supposed to make corn pudding and macaroni and cheese (twice each) for two different occasions.
I guess this is what life is like these days - always pulled in a thousand directions, always running to stay right where you are. I can handle that. I just wish someone would slow down the treadmill a little.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Welcome to my blog!! This is my first attempt at putting my thoughts into the great big world, but certainly not my first attempt to put them in writing. Although, I must admit, this is the first time I've ever put them out where other people could read them. I've always thought some of the things that go on in my head were best left there. There is always this suspicion that I am the only one whose brain works just so, or whose thoughts and feelings don't stem from a logical process of any kind. I know I look normal, I look like everyone else - today, I'm wearing simple black pants and a sweater. But do I work the way everyone else does inside? Or, if I share these processes, will people shy away from me, with that sickly half-smile and nod that really means, "Back away slowly - don't look her straight in the eye."
But I'm going to do this anyway, with the supposition that maybe everyone hides things inside the way I do. Maybe they look normal, but maybe they are swirling, whirling, tossing and turning where I cannot see. Maybe.