IN THIS TOGETHER ◽ MARRIAGE
If you are anything at all like me…or most people who know other people and celebrate Christmas, right now, you are just plain old stick-a-fork-in-me DONE. I don’t think I remember the last time I sat down for more than 10 minutes before bed. In fact, currently, I’m standing in my kitchen, making a pot of gumbo for my husband’s holiday party, meal prepping for the rest of the week because I didn’t do it on Sunday (it’s currently Wednesday, by the way), on a conference call for work, while writing my (extremely) late article about the joys of marriage.
So yeah, done.
What’s funny is, every single year I look forward to Christmas time and the beginning of a new year.
I love the lights, the movies that I keep hidden until Thanksgiving and the joy that comes from giving and fresh starts. But honestly, by the time we make it past Christmas morning, I’m ready to hibernate. Way too often, I’m so busy that I forget that the person I chose to do life with 14 years ago has received about 5 minutes of my attention in the last month. And if I’m being perfectly honest with you (and myself), if I’m not careful, time with my husband can feel like just one more item on a checklist that I’m constantly failing to complete.
And just so you know that I am an equal opportunity destroyer of love and joy , my daughter yelled at me tonight that I never check to see if she’s okay, and she says she is most definitely not okay…not that I asked. I of course bristled at that, reminding her of the approximately 147 questions I ask her every day, trying to find out more about her day and her life, without much success other that the perfunctory 12 year old responses of, “Fine.” But my questions aren’t the right ones that make her feel valued and understood. And that’s on me.
I need to slow down and see what is meaningful to my husband and my kids, not just checking in from an emotional distance. At this point, I’m semi confident that the only non-neglected member of this household is our big clumsy dog Harley, who forces his way into my face regardless of my busy schedule and nudges me until I love him back.
So how do I deal with these kinds of less than warm fuzzy self-revelations?
Currently I’m eating my feelings, which taste a lot like Ghirardelli chocolate and sadness. However, I’m going to make some suggestions for you and me and whoever else feels like they’re missing the mark during and post holidays. Stop. Just stop. I find myself busy, while everyone else is lounging on our wonderfully cozy couch. I need to join them more. Or else bring my people in from their comfy spots to be with me. Because, people, we need connection.
That word has been resonating in my heart for weeks. We are most definitely connected to Netflix, and Disney + (I mean, seriously), our phones, our email, social media, our work. But the more we’re connected to the outside world, the less connected we seem to be with those right here in the same room (okay fine, rarely is anyone ever in the same room in my house). And maybe I’m just talking crazy. Maybe I’m the only one feeling like there isn’t ever enough of me to go around and never enough time to just be with my husband and my kids because my list is never done. But just maybe I’m not alone on this island.
So here’s my plan. This year, we try to make some changes in the way we do things and what things we choose to give our time to. Now I’m not talking about New Year’s Resolutions. Because I hate them. They rate somewhere around laundry on my scale of things I love. So I’m not proposing we sit down and make a list filled with things we aren’t going to do and then feel guilty about not doing. Do we really need another useless list?
Run a marathon
Lose 20 lbs
Give up sugar (kidding-that’s never been on my list)
Unless that’s your thing. If it is, then you go make that list and cross off that marathon! I’ll be your biggest fan, most likely while eating the junk food you gave up. But if not, how about we just pick the thing that’s the most important. For me, that’s connecting with my husband and my kids and the people in my inner circle. Because I know that the laundry and the dishes, the cleaning and every other inconsequential thing will still be there tomorrow, or the next day, or Thursday night when I can’t stand the mess any longer.
However, we aren’t promised a single extra moment, so when I look back on my life, I want to look back and know that I took advantage of the time I had. I want my husband to know that I was intentional about the time and space I made for us and our marriage. I want my kids to look back on their childhood and know that despite my mistakes and messes, I always did my best to love them in a way that made each of them feel irreplaceable, safe and understood.
This is our year for connection.
This is our year for doing one thing better than before; for not beating ourselves up when we forget, but just taking a deep breath, owning our humanity and shortcomings, and then trying again. And again. And again. Maybe while we’re working on connecting more with the ones we love, we’ll also find that we have more connection with God and even ourselves.
“Paradise has never been about a place.
It exists in moments.
In connection. In flashes across time.”