It's really easy to take care of other people. I have been doing it my whole life. But particularly right now, I need figure out how to be easy on myself, to take care of myself. To start, I've been letting some things go. I can't always pack the perfect lunches. I can't always keep the sink free of dishes, there will always be more laundry that I can manage at any given time, and my to-do list will never be empty. I've even let go of working on the book for a couple of weeks. And that is okay. For my sanity, I need to accept those things. They don't make me a failure. They don't make me a bad mom, a bad wife.
They make me human. I can't do everything all of the time.
Another thing I also let go of was holiday cards. I didn't send any. Not even one. It was sort of two fold. First of all, I needed to take some things off my plate because I've been feeling so overwhelmed. Secondly, I've been thinking of the 1946 classic It's a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. And I've been wondering about my life. Does it matter that I send holiday cards? I wonder about how different the world would be if I wasn't here doing my little daily things, all my little routines. Mostly, I have been wondering about the contribution I make to this world as a stay-at-home parent. It feels pretty paltry sometimes.
I'm certainly trying to impact this world in small and positive ways with my writing and by trying to teach my kids to be kind, compassionate, and productive human beings. But since it feels like I’m not really a part of a big picture--although I'm sure a lot of people involved on big projects at big companies often don't feel that they are making any real contribution either--my life, my contributions sometimes feel invisible.
So as I chose not to send any holiday cards, I wondered if it would really matter that much. And then to my amazement, we started getting cards. And I enjoyed opening them and hanging them up as I do every year. And I remembered why I sent cards. It wasn't out of obligation (well, maybe a little bit), but rather we send them because people like hearing from people they haven't heard from in a long time. I know I do. It's fun getting mail that isn't a bill or a catalog. It is nice seeing pictures of my friends, their kids, their dogs. And if there is no picture, it's nice knowing that someone thought about us.
Maybe it's less like It's a Wonderful Life and more like How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Even though the Grinch took all the trees and all the presents and all the Whoo pudding, Christmas came anyway. So maybe even though I didn't send all the cards, the holidays will come anyway. They will still be filled with love and joy. And I will be a tiny bit less stressed out...Now if I could just get to the Post Office so that the family will get their presents before Christmas.