The other day, I told David if parenting is a marathon, then we’re at the 21st-ish mile, and I really want to fall out, put my feet up, and chug a tall sweet tea. Parenting teens is exhausting business. I know, parenting a kid of any age is exhausting business–but what exhausts shifts and changes. For 16 1/2 years I’ve bent and moved through many different stages, often unsure of what in the heck I’m doing. My knees know the floor as I’m not too proud to beg for help.
My big kids can do a lot more independently, but I’m finding they require a lot more inwardly. We have many, many prime-time heart to hearts. For whatever reason, my kids are rarely in the mood for these chats before 10pm. And after getting dinner on the table (sometimes in shifts), driving my daughter to tennis lessons, helping both sons with their term papers, arranging Christmas gifts for a couple folks, and completing a dozen other household chores, I’m not sure I’m all that great of a conversationalist at 10 or 11pm. Sometimes I do it well, in spite of weighty eyelids. Sometimes I get short and cranky and let my lack of patience be the boss of me.
As I’ve said before, I love having teenagers in my house. I couldn’t be more wild about these young’uns God entrusted to David and me. In six months, my daughter will be 13 and then I’ll have three–THREE!–teens, which is a heap of scary and awesome all at once.
Here’s more truth for you: I am tired this December like I’ve never been tired before. The Advent season feels like one more thing I need to do–or rather several more. Because if I don’t get all the prep-work finished, if I don’t remind my kids often enough who the Star of the program is, then I’m not properly preparing them to really, truly grasp the importance of the season.
Christmas has always been my most favorite time of year, and it still is. In fact, I really, truly want to give Advent proper attention. I find it fun–that is, until I don’t. When I take a drastic left turn toward the corner of High Expectations and Demanding Drive, then I’ve begun to treat preparing for Christmas like I’m preparing for a final exam. And Jesus never asked me to consider it a test I would pass or fail. He brings freedom and joy, not an itemized list of expectations.
So I don’t need to stay up all night cramming.
I don’t need to chase down all the answers.
I don’t need to fret that there’s an entire section I forgot to review.
I just need to relax and prepare my heart to be with Jesus rather than worry about how I behave in preparation for him. And I need to reflect this truth to the kids, too.
“Rather than chase Christmas like a lover that must be wooed or lost, I have found it much easier to sit still and let it find me.” ~ Phyllis Theroux
I don’t want to run toward Christmas, I want to just simmer down and let Christmas come to me. I want to welcome Jesus into our home, look expectantly for natural ways to usher him into my family’s lives. Because here’s the laid-back truth behind the season: Love came down to us. Jesus came down to help, not exhaust.
May we be a people who don’t fret and worry about passing or failing Christmas, about ruining our holiday GPA. There is no such thing.
May we be a people who revel in the simplicity of Christmas, who simply lay out the welcome mat before the door of our hearts and leave room for the unexpected.
And may we believe God capably brims our gaps more than we ever imagined.