Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“Doing-it-all”: the Bare Minimum Approach


Today I am baking for my Christmas baby: a cake to celebrate at home, and cupcakes to bring to batting practice and school. With my four-year-old helping, I started pouring the first batch into the pans before realizing I had forgotten to put the eggs in. I went through a dozen eggs trying to make three batches of my egg white cake without getting any yolk in.

I didn’t make my Christmas houses this year – or my gingerbread – or my banana bread. And it’s okay. We finished our Nutcracker story ornaments and have been working on our Jesse tree symbols. Even that is touch-and-go. With sports after school, sometimes I can’t get the whole family together to do that, so on other days we will catch up by doing one scripture and symbol per child.

They also wrote their letters to St. Nicholas, which they put in their stockings on the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6. Finally, we have our advent bead boxes. There are different colors to represent different types of good deeds; the children tell us what they did and they get beads to put in their boxes, which they offer to Jesus by placing them under the tree on Christmas Eve.

The older the kids and I get, the more I realize that you can leave a lot of stuff out – it is in the way that you do things that really matters. I can’t bake for every class party, but if I do I do it out of love. I can’t be at every one of their sporting events – now that they are all at different places doing different things – but they know I do my best to see each of them do their thing, and when I am there I am completely “present”, eating up every pitch, play, or move they make.

It’s also tricky toeing the line on how visible they want me to be, although they all want me there. My four-year-old wants me at the door of her ballet class watching every step, often photographing and videotaping. My nine-year-old is okay if I’m not there, but he prefers knowing that either his dad or I saw it if he had a good hit or pitched a great game. My twelve-year-old won’t admit that she cares if we are there or not, but she does. My fourteen-year-old can now go to sporting events on the school bus, but she begs me to go see her if I can. She smiles when she sees me show up, but then shoos me away, signaling for me to keep my distance.

“Doing it all” suddenly becomes a lot more doable when you aren’t really doing it all – just doing the really essential things right (or as close to right as you can make it).

Luke 12: 25-26
Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?
If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?

1 comment:

Barb, sfo said...

I'm reading a week behind because I can't do it all either :) Thanks for this excellent post!