NaBloPoMo Finito!

30 days.  In not quite 8 years, I’ve never completed an entire NaBloPoMo before.  I’m rather pleased with myself for following all the way through with it.

Tomorrow starts December, and with it comes Reverb with Kat McNally and December Reflections with Susannah Conway.  I invite you to come along with me as I try to continue keeping up with my daily posting for the next month.

And now, bedtime.  I ran a 5k after work and all that runner’s high has worn off and I’m exhausted.  See y’all on the flip side!

Nov. 29 – Two days to go.

There’s a now-cold cup of coffee buried somewhere in the explosion of bubble wrap and crumpled paper that came from me pulling out Christmas decorations.  I’m almost done with the decorations that have to be put up without small people, and then tomorrow night we will decorate the tree together.  There’s just something about having colored lights and glitter sparkles all over the house that makes it REALLY feel like Christmas is here.

Between the music and the lighting and the arranging of sparkly things, I realized that I am much more relaxed and happy doing this alone rather than with the kids underfoot.  They stress me out, especially when we are working on an activity that has emotional meaning to me.  Decorating for Christmas is such an important moment for me every year – I look forward to it, and I hate taking everything down at the end of the month.  There is a lot of happiness, and sadness too, locked into all these baubles that I am pulling out of the giant box.  Everything I touch has a moment, a person, a feeling attached to it.  And putting those tangible items out into view brings up all those feelings, and I have to work through them as I go.

I learned quite a while back that I am a worse parent when I am tired or hungry or not in control of my own emotions.  I don’t have deep reserves to pull on when the kids start in with the fighting and the need-need-need.  I know that it’s better for me to get the bulk of this out of the way alone tonight so that I can limit how much work I have to go through with them tomorrow.  If I could deal with them one at a time, I think I would be okay.  But they have NO LIMIT to their intrusive nosiness for what their siblings are doing, and I will have all three underfoot the whole time.  They are so incredibly jealous of each other getting more of my time than they do, and I don’t know what to do with it.  I end up sending all of them to bed, because I would rather deal with none of them than hear them continually bicker.   It’s a recipe for disaster – me emotional and them strung out on holiday excitement and new pretties.

*I wonder sometimes how my mother did it.  There’s a large gap between me and my siblings, but they are just over a year apart.  And god we fought.  I did NOT do well with the transition from “only child” to “oldest of three” in barely a year.  My sister and I get along now, but that’s only been within the last few years when she graduated from college herself.  My brother doesn’t seem to care for either of us, and neither of us push the issue.  It’s all our faults, I guess.

*Footnote: This NaBloPoMo could be subtitled “All the Family Dysfunction” at this point.


How do you handle Christmas/holiday/special event stresses?  So much of it is emotional and environmental and gets pushed on us whether we want it or not.  Do you fight back or run away?


On family dysfunction, Christmas preview edition:

Surprisingly, I am almost done with Christmas shopping.  We ended up not swapping gifts except for the kids this year, which cut my list down by half.  But we don’t want or need anything, and neither does anyone else, and we all decided it was better to forgo wasting money and time and angst on a pile of stuff for stuff’s sake. 

It feels a little weird not having a big pile wrapped up under the tree, but only because we’ve just always had that.  As long as the kids feel content on Christmas morning, that’s all I’m really shooting for.

I’m more sad, really, that our extended family tradition is not going to happen.  Scheduling and a healthy dose of resentment mean that we won’t see a group of people like we normally do on Christmas day. We are trying to decide whether to travel to see other family instead (blegh) or just to stay home by ourselves (also kind of blegh).


Why does family have to be so hard?  Why can’t we all just get over ourselves and love each other and not be such self-absorbed jerks, at least for one day of the year?

On family dysfunction:

Does everyone have a dysfunctiomal family?  I imagine there must be some normal ones out there, but everyone I know claims to have problems. 

For example, after Thanksgiving dinner last night with M’s family, he has already sworn that we won’t host next year.  His dad decided to go pre-Black-Friday shopping instead of eating with us, and his sister bailed early before we even cut the pie.  After spending two days cooking and getting ready, my boy is livid.

My family is a little better – we fall more on the “odd duckling” end of the spectrum than the “pile of jerks” end.  My brother, who has never lived outside of Alabama, now speaks with a British accent (to my parents even) and my father is investing my inheritance in a collection of bench vises.  But at least they are nice about it :)

It makes me wonder what our kids are going to think of us, and of each other, one day.

Expectation is the root of (my) suffering.

The root of all suffering is attachment. [Second Noble Truth]

I bumped up against Buddhism at a formative time in my life, and the Four Noble Truths made an impression on me that I’ve never quite shaken.

Over and over again, I come up against the Second Noble Truth. Attachment to things and attachment to expectations just eat my lunch.  I get caught up in what I WANT to happen, what I EXPECT to happen, and I get angry and scared when life doesn’t work out that way.  Rather than see the beauty and possibility in what is really happening, I get blinded by my own emotional response.

I’m working on it.  I can at least, now, most of the time, see that I’m reacting and that I don’t like the reaction.  I’m trying to get to the place where I can remember that I don’t like feeling that way BEFORE I react.  I’m trying to find myself in the pause and make a conscious decision about what to do rather than reflexively going straight to anger.

It’s a work in progress.  Maybe one day I’ll get there.  Even if I don’t, hopefully I’ll get better along the way.


What leads to suffering in your life? How do you respond to it?

Hey you.

Hey you.

When something stops you mid-sentence, it’s usually a good idea to pay attention.  “Write yourself a letter today, before things get crazy.  Remind yourself of what you really want more of.”

You know what she’s saying.  You’re already wondering about the next few weeks, all the things you have to do/buy/get/make/go to.  I know you want to make this year perfect for him. And in doing so, you think you can reclaim some of that childhood magic for yourself.  *Feeling good is the primary intention.*  You want them to feel good, not disappointed; filled with joy and magic, not questions and cynicism; happy, not sad; satisfied, not wanting; secure, enough, proud, not … not.  And those are good things!  That’s what makes you a good mom, wanting those feelings for them (and yourself too.)  But remember – those don’t come from the store.  Those don’t come from more sugar and candy and dessert.  Those come from time, and connection, and space to explore and wander.  You can’t buy those.  You can’t force those.  They happen organically, and they won’t happen at all with you stressed and yelling and trying to force perfection to happen.  Those will drive you straight down the path to “not.”

So take a deep breath.  Relax your shoulders and stretch straight up to the sky overhead.  Now look at your calendar again.  It’s going to change.  Someone will not feel good, or it will be too cold, or someone will need a nap, or the two of you will be so fucking exhausted it won’t be worth the struggle.  Or all of these.  That’s okay.  When that happens (notice I didn’t say “if”), let it go.  Let go of the expectations and accept what life has handed you instead.  And THEN go back to the feelings – goodness, joy, magic, satisfaction, security, enough, proud, LOVE.  What can you do with what you have been handed to make those feelings happen?  Do that.  Don’t be a big ball of stress over what you are not doing instead.  Always, always, always choose love. In that pause between what happens to you and how you respond, in that moment, choose love.  It won’t steer you wrong.

Now that that’s settled – what are you going to do now?



PS – you got this.  And if you forget, it’s never to late to try to do better the next time.  You are never locked into these behavior patterns – you can change if that’s what you want to do.  You are good enough.  You do not have to be “good.”  You do not have to crawl on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.  You have a place, always, in the family of things.  You are loved, you are accepted – just the way you are.


Write yourself a letter today, before things get crazy. Remind yourself what you really want more of. How can you shift from overdo to under-do? How can less equal more comfort and joy? How do you really want to spend your time not just over the holidays, but all year long?