do-over december

NYE Family pic

The past two weeks, I’ve read countless posts from other bloggers recapping Christmas with their families…the festivities, the food, the family time. Our story this Christmas is anything but picturesque, and at first, I thought there was no reason to recap our Christmas. But as I mulled it over, I realized that transparency is something I am striving for and that maybe, just maybe, some other mama out there had a similar experience and would be able to relate.

I’ve mentioned to several family members lately that I just want to do over December. Normally, I consider our family very healthy, but in December, we had a stretch of a few healthy days at the beginning of the month and then a short stretch the week before Christmas. The rest of the month was been spent taking care of sick babies and trying my best not to get sick, which was a futile attempt. Apparently I don’t have the mama immunity that my mom seemed to have growing up.

A couple weeks ago, James Michael came down with strep throat and then a virus a few days later. We hunkered down at the house for nearly two weeks while he recovered. Grandma (James’ mom) came to stay with us for 5 days to help ensure little Beau didn’t get the virus, and I am forever grateful for her help because I couldn’t have done it alone. I spent one day taking care of both boys by myself while JM was contagious, and one of them was crying at all times. Rough would have been an understatement.

But we finally regained our health just in time for JM to participate in his Christmas program at school. It was a sweet, priceless experience and I’m so thankful that James and I both could be there to watch him (even if he did start crying for Daddy once he spotted him in the crowd).

But a mere four days later, sickness struck again with James coming down with what I’m guessing was a severe cold, though I’m not quite sure. He had fever and chills along with typical cold symptoms, so who knows. Beau contracted it the next day, and the cold quickly turned into RSV and Bronchiolitis for my sweet little boy. We spent the week of Christmas giving him breathing treatments and he had to sleep on my chest at night because it helped him breathe easier. I knew it was just a matter of time before I caught it since I was in such close proximity with Beau, but before it got to me, JM woke up with a fever on Christmas Eve and then again Christmas Day. Luckily, he is quite the little trooper and chose to combat the sickness with longer naps and more sleep at night.

Christmas Day everything came to a head for me. I reflected on the month so far, and realized we had missed church every Sunday, cancelled two Christmas parties, missed the Christmas Eve service, and celebrated a pared down Christmas with family as my sister and her newborn couldn’t risk visiting us. Christmas Day, James was still sick and not much fun, JM woke up with a fever and I was going on a couple nights of 2 to 3 hours sleep holding precious Beau on my chest all night. My parents called to say they were on the way to my house mid-morning, and it was all I could do not to break down over the phone.

This was definitely not how I had imagined our first Christmas as a family of four in my new home. I had visions of sugarplums…along with countless hours with family soaking up and celebrating the season. I wanted to read JM the Christmas story and begin our own traditions. I wanted to cook holiday food for my family and enjoy hosting our first Christmas in our house.

Like probably many women, I have lofty expectations swirling around in my head as to how certain things should be. Christmases and birthdays are at the top of that list. It’s hard for me to let these types of things go when they don’t (and can’t) turn out the way I envisioned them.

As much as I hope that I will never have to relive a month like our December of 2013, it taught or reminded me of so much:

  • Family really is everything. My mother-in-law swooped in to save the day not once, but twice, in December. She helped me care for my babies like they were her own, helped me keep my house in manageable shape and kept me company when I was stuck in the house for days upon days.
  • Life is more than a magazine spread. As much as I love browsing through Southern Living and revelling at all the wonderful holiday food and tablescapes, those scenes and recipes are created by a staff of people who have nothing but time and energy (because they’re paid to do it!). During December, my parents helped me decorate my house for the season, and though it wasn’t magazine-worthy, it was perfectly playful for a little roving toddler. Decor included stuffed Santas for him to play with and Baby Jesus in a nativity set that JM loved to hold.
  • It gets better. As much as I felt stuck in this downward spiral of sickness in December, looking back, I realize just how fast the month flew by, sickness and all. I know this won’t be our only bout of sickness while my kids are young. And I also know that life won’t always be easy. But it’s possible to make it through tough times and gain strength and resilience that make me a better person.
  • I love the ordinary days. December made me realize just how precious my ordinary days are at home with my boys. The non-stop cooking, cleaning and tending that can feel overwhelming at times seemed like a dream comparatively. There have been so many times since this past summer that I’ve taken my time with my boys for granted. December reminded me that I’m so blessed to be able to stay home with them during this season of life.
  • I’m not perfect. I still try (even sometimes unaware) to hold onto the reins of my life. I like to be in control of things, and it’s so hard for me to exhale and give them to God. I really think this is something I’ll have to work on for a long time to come. I don’t have any great revelations about how I’m going to begin letting go of more of my life, but I bet God has some great ideas for first steps 🙂

The end of 2013 was such a blur and I have never been as excited about the start of a new year. I don’t have any notable resolutions that I’m ready to declare. I want to continue striving to be the best wife and mom I can be, and also grow my relationship with and dependence on God.

So instead of wanting to do over December, I think I’ll leave it behind and start fresh this month, focusing on health, family and faith.

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