I’ve been a mom for sixteen Christmases now. Each of those Christmases have held a delicate dance between excitement and total exhaustion.
My tendency every Christmas is to forego rest and neglect my own needs for the sake of others, especially my children. But this year I am trying something new.
This year I am practicing expressing my emotion and asking for what I need. I am doing this because I want to experience more peace and joy and less resentment and burnout. This feels important because I am learning that the more peace and joy I experience, the more peace and joy my children experience.
I have been watching my one year old and how unhesitatingly she expresses her emotion and her needs. Her approach to life is simple and straightforward:
Feel something, tell the people around her what she is feeling.
Need something, tell the people around her what she is needing.
We are born with this incredible ability to communicate what we are feeling and to ask (demand) that our needs be met. But somewhere along the path of growing up we lose this ability. We stop expressing our emotion and we stop asking for what we need; but we do not stop experiencing emotion, nor do we stop having needs, we simply stop talking about them.
We live in a complex world and for many of us the holidays feel like an especially busy, complex season. But perhaps there are aspects that are not quite as complex as we believe them to be. It has been my experience thus far that expressing emotion and asking for what I need is not easy, but it does simplify things. And as a mom of five kids, I could use a bit of simple in my life.
It is my deep desire to create fun, special, memorable Christmas seasons for my children. It is my deep need to create pockets of rest and rejuvenation in the midst of all of that fun.
Here are a few of the emotions and needs I have expressed so far this season:
I feel overwhelmed about being in charge of buying gifts for everyone. I need help coordinating that effort this year. Will you help me?
I feel sadness about how rushed Christmas day has become. I need our family to go to Grandma's house later in the day so we have more time to open gifts at our house Christmas morning.
I feel sadness and some anger about how messy the house is. I need each of you to be responsible for keeping up with your chore list each day.
I feel joy when I get an hour or two of quiet to read, write and run. I need support protecting that time so I have the energy to be the wife, mom and friend I want to be. Will you help me?
Each of us experience emotion in a slightly different way and each of us have slightly different needs. It is not our job to judge, criticize or silence those emotions or those needs. It is our job to Oooo emotions and to respond to needs, including our own.
What emotions are you experiencing this holiday season? What needs might those emotions be trying to point you toward?