Advent is the liturgical season that most often leaves me with a sense of failure. There are so many cool things we could be doing to prepare ourselves for the birth of Christ, and I usually end up actually doing almost none of them. Unlike Lent or Easter, there are a ton of practical concerns that get in the way this time of year: Christmas pageants, holiday parties, shopping for gifts, etc., and it makes it hard to carve out time for what really matters.
This year, I was so blessed to receive my packet of Advent reflections from Labora Editions. Dan Lord, Simcha Fisher, Brandon Vogt, and Dorian Speed each wrote powerful, moving pieces, but one paragraph in particular has stuck with me over these past few days. When reflecting on how pregnancy and birth are often not the perfect experiences we might idealize it to be, Simcha (who is a mother of nine) writes:
And the big [birth] day itself? I don’t care who you are: no matter how holy or fit or hypnotized or drugged out you are, giving birth is horrible. Yes, it’s worth it. Yes, you choose it, and you want it to happen, and you’d do it again. But it hurts. It’s bloody. It’s messy, and exhausting, and sometimes you almost die. Just like the last week of Advent!
I’ve heard Advent/pregnancy analogies before, but this one really hit me. Maybe because I’m experiencing a non-perfect pregnancy that I am nevertheless happy about, it made me relax and accept imperfect Advents as a natural part of a full life.
For Advent inspiration, I’ve been hanging on basically every post by Jessica at A Shower of Roses. I just love it that women who have those kinds of staggering domestic gifts give the rest of us a glimpse into their lives. I just love having these beautiful posts to live vicariously through creative and gifted women like her. Who knows, maybe I’ll even give some of these ideas a shot one of these days (which would, if nothing else, give me plenty of material for a new Advent Fails blog).
See, here’s my problem: I have no attention to detail about my physical surroundings. Those of us who aspire to be brains in jars are only vaguely aware of where we are in time and space to begin with, and so those little decorating flourishes that make houses so wonderfully homey do not come naturally to us. For example: I realized the other day that there is some random scrap of paper taped to our living room wall. And it’s been there for months. Presumably a kid stood on the buffet to put it up there? No idea.
The kids have also taped up some papers in the entry hall, although at least these kind of count as “art”:
On the plus side, I don’t think I need to worry about Better Homes and Gardens harassing me about a photo shoot any time soon.
A friend alerts me that the new trend among homeschoolers is to hire tutors so that busy parents can outsource some of the grunt work. These aren’t necessarily experts in the subject (at least not for elementary school kids); rather, they function more as teacher’s assistants who answer questions and help young children stay on task. This was a bad can of worms for me to open, because it got me thinking about the resources I could use to make homeschooling run a little more smoothly around here. My list ended up looking something like this:
- Babysitter for baby
- Second tutor
- Grape peeler
- Security guard (to stand outside my bedroom door while I take a nap)
This is just a start, obviously. I haven’t even gotten to the tour guide to arrange engaging field trips and the chauffeur to take them there.
Could it be possible that my eight-year-old son only needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night? A bit of background: This is the child who demonstrated a profound ability to go without sleep from day one (I recall asking the midwife, “Do two-day-old babies normally have six-hour stretches of ‘quiet alert’ time?”) He had an instinctive hatred of the entire concept of sleep, his babyhood naptime and bedtime routines requiring me to snake-charm him for about 45 minutes to get him to doze off, whereupon he’d wake up every two hours for the rest of the night. These days, he’s at his most alert at about 11:00 at night. He can go to sleep at 1:00 AM, wake up at 8:00 AM, and show no signs of tiredness the next day. He doesn’t fall asleep in the car, doze off during quiet time, or any other behavior that would be symptomatic of being sleep deprived. When I make him have lights-out time for longer stretches, he just lies awake and gets frustrated that he can’t sleep.
It would give me a certain amount of peace to just accept that this is the way he’s wired, and stop fighting bedtime battles that don’t need to be fought. I’m just mildly daunted by the idea of having a young child who needs less sleep than I do.
I’m getting excited about watching the show next week! Bookmark netny.net/watch-now if you’d like to watch it live online. It’ll air on Thursday at 8 PM Eastern / 7 PM Central. (Here’s a time zone converter to figure out when that will be for you.) Should be fun to see how it all turns out!
I didn’t get the job done for any kind of celebration for the feast of St. Nicholas. But I did come across this meme and laugh and laugh and laugh.
(If you’re not familiar with how jolly ol’ St. Nick dealt with people who spoke falsehoods about Jesus Christ, that story here.)