to hell with the bow

I’ve been swearing a lot more lately. This is pretty relative, as my roles as a mother and church-goer don’t exactly lend themselves to cussing like a sailor. I’ve just been replacing some of my hecks with hells and darns with damns.

I love Christmas. I’m an only child and December has been a pretty magical month for me most of my life. I’ve always carried on this magic with my kids – looking at Christmas lights, drinking hot chocolate, gift shopping, decorating, Christmas music blasting, and (most importantly I suppose) sweet little advent lessons around the dinner table.

This year, sweet little advent lessons annoy me.

I hate that. I hate this eye roll feeling I get when I’m reading an advent story with my kids – even though my mind agrees with the words! I wish I didn’t feel a little nauseous when I try to do my usual advent devotion.

I think I know the problem: My sweet little white girl bubble has been popped. I can’t put it back together – I shouldn’t anyway. And I can’t wrap it all up, tie it and put a bow on top. To hell with the bow. This year isn’t that sort of year so I don’t know why I expected this Christmas to be that sort of Christmas.

So this year, I’ll be present and I’ll care deeply about and for the people in my home and my life. I’ll still go through some of the motions even though they might not feel magical to me personally. I won’t steal anyone’s joy. I’ll have hope. I’ll read and listen and pray and think about Emmanuel.

I’ll try to find peace with the bows.

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suffragette white

On Tuesday, November 8, I wore a white flannel shirt and put a big white bow in my youngest daughter’s hair. I believed the United States was about to break the highest glass ceiling in the land. I thought we were going to use our votes to say, “no, thank you!” to hate and racism and misogyny.

I did not vote for Mrs. Clinton in the primaries. In fact, I voted in the Republican primary because I’m currently a registered Republican. (This has swung back and forth, Democrat to Republican to Independent and so on since I turned 18. I suppose I really am an Independent but I just keep trying to identify with a party because who doesn’t like a party?) If I could have chosen my ideal Presidential race, neither candidate would have been on the ballot and I would have had a difficult time choosing between Bernie and John. These were my options, though, which to me really only meant I had one option.

I know now how naive I was. In my mind, we were choosing between a racist sexist hateful man and a slightly shady politically-tied woman who did some stupid crap with her emails. This seemed like such a no brainer to me. It’s not how a large portion of the country saw things, though.

I will not pretend to understand it all. I will not pretend to be a political analyst here. I have many thoughts about this, but I will just tell my story and let you tell yours.

Sitting on the couch with my husband and 3 oldest children, we sat and watched some of the first results coming in. It was all very close. Too close. You could tell some of the people on the news were surprised… or nervous. I sent my boys to bed. My husband dozed off next to me while my teenage daughter and I watched on.

When Ohio turned red, I felt like someone had stacked bricks on my chest. I don’t exactly know how to put words to this. I don’t want to belittle the prejudices others face on a daily basis. For the first time in my life, though, I felt hated for something I am. I felt discriminated against. I felt like all my fellow Ohioans were looking at Mr. Trump and all of his disrespect of women then looking at me and my daughters and the other women of the world, the people of color and people of differing faiths… and chose him. I went to bed and hoped I would wake up to something different.

On Tuesday, November 8, I thought I would witness history. I thought my children would live in a world where it wouldn’t be unheard of that a woman be elected President. Instead, I witnessed… something else.

I don’t know exactly how I will talk to my children about this President. I’ve always firmly believed that we should respect our leaders, even when we disagree and I still believe that. But my kids have already heard so many of his words. They’ve heard so many things at school. They’ve asked so many questions. And I won’t lie to them for him. I will just hope that he will do and say things deserving of respect, too.

Wearing suffragette white to the polls on November 8 wasn’t really a nod to Hillary Clinton. It was a nod to every woman who has helped pave the way. It was a thank you to suffragettes of all colors and backgrounds. And you know what? I think from now on, I will wear white to vote. I will hope and I will teach my children to love and I will pass along the message, “to all the little girls watching… never doubt that you are valuable and powerful & deserving of every chance & opportunity in the world.”

so speaking of wanderlust

So, speaking of wanderlust…

For a woman with 6 kids, I have an impressive desire to move to foreign places. Not overseas necessarily – although if my husband woke up tomorrow and said he wanted to move us to Nairobi, I’d probably just start packing. It’s not that I don’t love where I am, it’s just… Well, this itch for change that I can’t quite quantify or fully explain.

I’m sure some psychotherapist could stop me here and decode the meaning of my wanderlust, be it daddy issues or fear of commitment or whatever else. But hey, that would take all the mystery out of it. 😉

I think at least a piece of this wanderlust, this desire to pack up and go (with all my people in tow!) goes back to how we were all wired. Remember the sabbath year in the Bible? The year or jubilee? Cancel all the debts! Rest! Reset! (Google this if you haven’t checked it out – start in Leviticus & Deuteronomy – I so wish we practiced this as a culture in some way other than bankruptcy law! Haha!)

We were designed for resets. And when we don’t get them, the wanderlust arrives.

I do believe that God has placed me in this place and time for a reason, though. With all – or at least 99% of – my heart. And I probably should not pack my bags for Quito or Albuquerque or any place else just yet.

the other side

My wild child turns 3 tomorrow. All of my children’s toddler years have been different and there have been rivals, but this kid – he wins the wild child award to date.

open door

I’m an extrovert. Like extreme. I could be surrounded by people all day long. We joke that I made all these people just because I love people so much – why not birth a bunch of them to live in a house with me?

I absolutely love having friends over. I love opening my home to others. It’s one of my absolute favorite things.

The older I get, though, I’m noticing my stress level messes with my people love. I go all hermit. I hide inside my own head and self reflect way too much. I begin to question friendships for no reason. All the solid security I usually feel starts to melt. 

I’ve been hearing this whisper lately.

“open door”

In this exhausting and lovely and crazy and beautiful season I am in, God is reminding me He’s called me here. To a home with an open door. Open to my family. Open to my friends, my neighbors, others who simply need an open door. 

someone hire me a maid

If 5 years ago Jill saw modern day Jill’s floors, she would be appalled. 

And truth be told? I enjoy a clean house. I am somehow calmed by picked up toys and a shiny sink. 

But 3 more kids have taught me that I cannot do it all. The tricky thing is adding more kids means you have more mess but less time to clean it in.

It doesn’t really matter. When I am old and gray, I will not lament the dishes in the sink or the blocks on the carpet. 

Don’t mind me. Just preachin’ to myself.