AddThis script

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wondering if it's a wonderful life

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.


  1. I know how you feel. Intellectually, I know that raising my children to be compassionate, educated, hardworking people is a significant contribution to the world, but on a daily basis the trials and tribulations of parenthood make it seem negligible. Also, its hard to be patient enough to contribute to the big picture of our children since the end result is decades away.

    Thank you for writing!

  2. I'm wishing you and your family a Christmas filled with love and joy and hopefully some relaxation! Even without sending out holiday cards!

  3. O.k., so I am hoping that this will make you and your family feel loved (and not bad), but we missed seeing a holiday card with an updated photo with all of your smiling faces!

    But my new card philosophy is it is better not to send any card, than to send ones that show no thought and effort. I couldn't believe a couple of the cards I got this year. Didn't even have a "Dear" line with our names. One was these ugly poinsettias on the outside. Inside it just said Season's Greetings. And the family put an exclamation point after that pre-printed message and then signed it "from the ___________!"

    I mean sure not everyone can do a photo card - but I have friends that don't do photo cards and still manage to include a line or two that is personal and caring.

    Now in fairness, our card did not have a "Dear" line and it had a pre-printed message - but one I wrote and one that I think was thoughtful and I put each of our names on the card and it was beautiful cardstock and a professional picture of our family lovingly affixed to each one. I spent a lot of time and money on this card - because I wanted to. :^)

    I have to say though - it did set my bar for next year very high. The amount of calls and emails I got about how wonderful my card was took me completely by surprise. Next year, I might find myself with the same dilemma you faced - to send or not to send . . .

    Anyway, for the record, you're part of MY big picture!! And, spekaing from experience, I hope that your feelings of being overwhelmed start to diminish soon!!

    Lots of love,

    PS I had a friend who normally sends cards, do an electronic card this year at I still prefer getting a card in the mail - but this was really nicely done and included more pictures and info in it than a mail card would - unless it is the mail card of our dear friend, Christa! ;^)
    A possible solution . . .
    Lots of love,