Mary’s Story: God’s Grace for Moms

It never fails. Every November I find myself imagining a glorious holiday season. I close my eyes and see myself in pearls, a frilly half-apron, and heels, baking incredible pies in a spotless kitchen. I don’t know where this comes from. I don’t even wear heels anymore. They would slow me down while I’m chasing my toddler through Target. Maybe I have seasonal delusions from inhaling too much apple-cinnamon air freshener.

The problem is that I somehow believe the images in imagined scenarios like this are what the holidays should be like, and then I convince myself that’s what they look like at all the other houses on my street. When my reality is more likely to be a charred pan of break-and-bake cookies that were thrown into the oven at the last minute, I imagine all the women in my neighborhood creating a Martha Stewart Christmas.

The bigger the gap between my imagination and my reality, the bigger my perceived failure grows.

Lately I’ve been feeling as though I’m failing in most areas of my life. We’ve started homeschooling this year, and at times it’s overwhelming. I’m perpetually exhausted. The list of undone chores has grown longer and longer, which is impressive because I never leave the house. Half-finished projects and tasks are scattered all over. I feel as though I haven’t been giving one hundred percent to anyone or anything.

Mostly I have felt as though I’m failing as a mom.

Today, during a conversation with the kids about the Christmas story, I found myself fixated on Mary. For just a minute, I tried to imagine what it was like to be responsible for carrying and delivering the Son of God. If I’m feeling all this pressure to be the perfect mom, how much heavier was the weight on Mary’s shoulders as the mother of God incarnate? I wondered what must have been going through her mind when it came time to deliver the baby and all she had was a stable full of barnyard animals.

Please continue reading this post at The Glorious Table. While you’re there, read through some of the fantastic posts and be encouraged.

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That One Time Pinterest Made Me Poison the Teacher

 

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We’re all friends here, right? I hope so. Because, mamas, I have ten years worth of motherhood mess-ups and cautionary tales to share with you. I always hoped that one day these all-too-true stories could bring other mamas some encouragement because I’m selfless like that. Okay fine. Not really. I just want my pain to count for something and if it makes another mama laugh or feel less alone in this crazy world of motherhood, then it’s all worth it!

So lean in close, friends, and I’ll share with you the reason I won’t be on Pinterest ever again. Ever. Amen.

It was time to buy the preschool teacher a gift. And this wasn’t just any teacher. This woman had most definitely achieved sainthood in the year she spent shepherding my sweet, precious angel. Saint. Hood.

Now what she probably wanted was a long vacation or a gift card to the nearest package store, but I wanted a gift that would adequately convey the depths of my love and appreciation for what I knew she had been through with a whole class of sweet, precious angels.

Also, I wanted it to stand out among all the other parent gifts because I’m the oldest child and a perfectionist and we can get into all that some other time. So I scoured the list of favorites we received at the beginning of the year. I googled like my life depended on it. And then, like every other good mother would’ve already thought to do, I turned to the one true source that has never let me down before–Pinterest…

To see how it all went wrong, click through to read the rest of the story on Atlanta Area Moms Blog! See you there!

Ho Ho No – 5 Reasons We Don’t Do Santa

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** You can now click here to read a version of this post on The Huffington Post! There are so many ways to do Christmas and I love that no two families celebrate in exactly the same way. Whether you skip Santa completely or you go all North Pole in your home, I’d love for you to click through, like, or share this post to spread some Christmas cheer. **

The tree is trimmed. The stockings are hung. The gifts are ready. And by that, I mean the gifts are ready for me to find them at the store, buy them, hide them, wrap them, and put them under the tree at approximately 1:37 a.m. on December 25th. It’s okay. I’m good at other things.

The only thing that’s missing is a jolly old bearded guy in a red suit. And his reindeer. Oh, and that creepy elf dude.

Yes. We are one of THOSE families. We don’t do Santa at our house. I know, I know. It’s okay to go ahead and roll your eyes. We get that a lot.

It’s not like we’re marching indignantly on the North Pole, picket signs in hand, but it does come up a bit during this time of year. The reaction is generally one of disappointed surprise mixed with polite disapproval. “Oh, is that so? I didn’t realize. Well. I guess the children will find other ways to have a childhood.”

In an effort to reclaim some of our parenting points in the eyes of society (not that I was already in the running for Mother of the Year), here are some of our reasons for sacking Santa.

Santa’s unlimited resources don’t match our very limited budget.
As much as I love the idea of writing a letter listing all my dream requests to someone with the hopes of them being granted (wait–Ellen, are you Santa?), this would only set my kids up for disappointment. Because while the elves might have some back channel connections, Mama isn’t paying $250 or arm wrestling a trucker for a Hatchimal. Sorry, baby girl. Mama still loves you.

We don’t want to share credit with a cartoon.
Okay, so this one is admittedly a little selfish. But over the last decade of Christmases, we’ve worked really hard to scrape together enough money to be able to put a couple of modest gifts under the tree for the kids. It’s not much but ohmygoodness when they open those gifts and we see those huge smiles? I didn’t really want to hear, “Thank you, Santa!” I wanted some hugs.

For all my kids, but especially my literal-thinking aspie, it’s kind of creepy.
If I told my kid that there was a man out there who sees him when he’s sleeping and knows when he’s awake and knows when he’s been bad or good with the thinly veiled threat of “be good for goodness’ sake,” he wouldn’t sleep for a month. It does make Santa sound less like a jolly philanthropist and more like an unsub profiled on Criminal Minds.

It only takes one child in need to make you question the whole system.
Once upon a time in a world far away, I was a 2nd grade teacher. I will never forget the day an eight-year-old broke my heart wide open. I was on playground duty just after winter break when I spotted a student playing alone and decided to keep him company. We started chatting about his holiday and I asked him if he had a good Christmas. He looked up at me with confused eyes and said, “Santa didn’t come this year, Mrs. Pooser. I don’t know why. I tried so hard all year to be real, real good. But he didn’t come anyway.” That moment took my breath away. I just couldn’t bring myself to pass along a tradition that has the potential to make a child feel like his behavior is somehow responsible for his family not having any gifts under the tree.

Our holiday is less cluttered.
When we shifted our attention away from the material side of Christmas, we were able to focus more clearly on what we’re truly celebrating. The long-awaited Messiah, with Calvary already in mind, born to a desperate and dark world, bringing with him the light of hope, joy, peace, and love. And with the love of Jesus in our hearts, we do talk about St. Nicholas and how his spirit of kindness and generosity can live on in our Christmas traditions. We try to think of ways to spread joy to our neighbors and our community. Whether we’re able to sponsor a whole family from the Angel Tree or if we can just swing a few dollars to leave a Starbucks gift card on a stranger’s porch, there are lots of ways we can spread Christmas cheer. We’ve learned to step outside ourselves and think of others.

So even though we don’t do Santa Claus with our kids, there is still plenty of room for St. Nick in our Christmas.