I’ve written on this topic here before, but if there’s one thing that being the mother of 3 young children is constantly teaching and REteaching me, it’s to let go of my expectations. And if there’s one time of year that’s particularly loaded with expectations, it’s Christmastime. So I’ve been learning this lesson a lot lately.
Like when I sit the girls down to sponge paint gift cards, and instead of neatly dipping the sponge pieces in the paint, Campbell digs in with both hands and SMEARS, until she and the cards are completely covered and then of course Fiona joins in, too. And I’m so frustrated and disappointed because I wanted these to look NICE! Then Fiona looks up at me and says, “But Mommy, they DO look nice!” And you know what? She’s right.
Or like how our whole family has spent the past 3 weeks spreading around 1) a stomach bug and 2) an upper respiratory yucky thing. But you know what? It’s forced us to slow down and hang around the house more, and I’m just going to have to relax about catching up with the cleaning.
Or like when we go to Middlebury College’s “Lessons and Carols” service, and the two girls next to us who are the SAME AGES as our oldest girls sit there quietly while our girls squirm so much that we have to leave 10 minutes in, and then on the way back to the car Fiona picks up a large frozen chunk of snow, throws it on my foot, and gives me a toe contusion. And you know what? I’m not so sure what I learned from this other than that our girls aren’t yet ready for serious musical performances, and that it’s no good comparing your kids to others (how many times will I need to relearn THAT?). And Fiona has learned that snowballs you pick up are substantially different from those you make.
Then there was this book, Pippin the Christmas Pig, which one of our girls (I can’t remember who) threw into the library bag at the last minute. I’d never heard of it before, and didn’t have high expectations. “Great, another overly sentimental animal story,” was what crossed my mind. But then I read it to Campbell at naptime, and unexpectedly found myself fighting back tears. It has been one of the things I’ve clung to this season when everything else is like static drowning out the joy and wonder that I’m fighting for.
The premise: all the animals in the barn are boasting about the roles that their ancestors played in the first Christmas, but they completely brush off Pippin the pig. Hurt, Pippin runs out into the snow, where he finds a single mother and her infant daughter walking along the road. He nudges them back to the barn for shelter. And here’s the kicker of the whole story:
…[A]ll the animals turned to Pippin.
“Who is this woman?” snapped Curly.
“Pippin, we can’t take in some homeless nobody,” Noddy added.
“My very-great –” Bess began.
“We’ll need milk,” said Pippin. “We’ll need some warm, soft wool. We’ll need your old blanket, Noddy. We’ll need lots of lullabies. Your VERY-GREAT-grandparents aren’t here. You must help this baby yourselves.”
“But that’s not a special baby,” Noddy protested.
“Of course she is,” said Pippin. “All babies are special.”
Noddy gazed into the small sleeping face.
“You are right,” he said. “I’d forgotten.”
And if I had to choose a soundtrack for this lovely book, it would be this beautiful song that I’ve just discovered, “Sweet Night” by Katie Rice. You can listen/download it for free here: http://www.noisetrade.com/katierice Consider that my Christmas gift to you!
So those are my ramblings this naptime, when I should be vacuuming. I hope that this Christmas season surprises you, too, by NOT living up to your expectations in the best possible way.