This Christmas has been different to say the least. Yes, it’s unseasonably warm, we have green grass and blooming flowers, but it’s mostly due to the fact that I am 100%, through and through, my heart and my soul, devoted to yours and ours truly, Jesus Christ by way of Catholicism.
And because of Christ and Catholicism, this Christmas we have given.
Yes, we always give on Christmas, but to whom? We usually just give to family, but this year, we also gave to those in need and those in need were people that indirectly, directly or have never touched our lives.
And it felt good.
Better than good. It felt exhilarating. It felt like love.
I finally unblocked the clogged artery backed up by my past sins and opened it up to God. In doing that, I received the gift that I have been asking and praying for all of Advent.
To accept God’s mercy and experience the burning flame of His love in my heart. And that love roared out of me like a Dragon’s fire and onto others through giving.
With this “love following upon love” (John 1:14) I have never felt the fullness of life more than I do now.
Also, because we actually stayed home this Christmas, we were able to begin our own traditions and spend this special day with our amazing neighbors, Miss Karla, Miss Toni and their families. They are all the epitome of this season (even when it’s not this season) and I adore them beyond measure.
My words will never be enough to express my gratitude.
I can honestly say that this year I have actually sensed the true meaning of Christmas.
To give without expectations. To love without limits. To live in God’s mercy.
This is about a month over due, but I thought I’d share anyway.
God controls what I can’t.
God’s will versus my will are two infinitely unequal opposing forces in which success only comes when my will goes along with God’s will.
I can’t force someone to do something, even two-year olds, when it is physically out of my control. They must be ready and being ready means it’s in God’s hands, not my own.
For some unknown reason, I had no problem with my twins walking and talking on their own time and in going at their own pace learning their ABC’s, 123’s, colors and shapes, but with potty training I had to take control. I had to teach my kids to use the toilet and be out of diapers at precisely two years old and that was that.
Why? I suppose because I view bathroom behavior as an area in general etiquette that I must ingrain in my children at an early age, along with all other forms of manners. There is a necessity for thoroughly deep-seating common decency and politeness into them before beginning any formal education.
If they have not been taught to respect, sit quietly and listen to an authority figure then how will they ever learn the material presented to them?
Manners show appreciation, such as a “Thank you” when receiving something, and turn a demand into a courteous and shameless request just by adding a simple “please” in front of it.
Sharing, giving, and controlling their emotional outbursts are also instilled, and, most importantly, they express love and respect for one another.
Once all of this is fundamental in my children’s lives there will be far fewer struggles during their schooling lessons. Everything taught becomes easily absorbed into them because they have learned to listen.
As I digress.
Yes, bathroom etiquette is important, but they must first acquiesce to putting their bodily waste into the toilet, and trying to force any human to do that is physically impossible if their bodies haven’t naturally learned bladder and bowel control.
2. Sometimes you don’t know until you try.
How many times have you heard “How do you know if you haven’t tried it?”, while cross-examining a food or an action that looks or smells or sounds displeasing to you?
Sometimes the outcome is good, for instance, I postponed trying Brussels sprouts until my twenties because I heard they were disgusting. While taking a Chef Course during that era of life I made Brussels sprouts and when I tried them for the first time I was pleasantly surprised. To this day they are one of my favorite vegetables.
Then, sometimes you wish you had never, ever tried it, like drugs. Bad idea.
Well, that same question is the standard in first-time parenting.
No book, article, blog post or YouTube video can give you the gift of that first trying experience. Only actually doing it can. It may turn for the worse, but you don’t know until you try.
3. It’s ok to give up, claim defeat, and admit that you made a mistake.
It’s time to wave the white flag, and throw in the towel, after you’ve been through 3 days of 100% full-on, hands-on, everything-on potty training and you are still chasing two kids around saying “remember tell mommy when you need to use the potty”, but then your daughter slips and falls on another puddle of urine. You grab your Clorox wipes that are basically attached to your hip, cry for the umpteenth time on your knees, looking up at God, begging for mercy, and praying for a miracle, all the while not noticing that your house smells worse than a bridge taken over by homeless residents because you haven’t left your home since it all began!
This is when it’s time to stop and give up. It’s ok because you can try again. Just do it a little later…as in when they are ready.
4. I shouldn’t compare my children to other children (even ones I’ve only met by way of a training manual).
I promised myself I wouldn’t, but I believed potty training need not apply. Boy, was I wrong.
“Every child is different”. I’ve heard this from everyone I know with children. I’ve read it in every baby book, blog, and article, and I believe it, but like the military grade sleep training technique we successfully accomplished when they were just newborns, I figured the outcome of potty training would be the same.
I thought that because they were 25 months old, and the 3-Day Potty training author says that any child can be potty trained at 22 months…I mean all of her kids were trained around that age, so then mine were ready too, right?
[Really loud Ehhhhh] Wrong!
Did they have signs of readiness? What other sign did they need other than their age?
Yes, this is a classic symptom of First-Time Parenting Syndrome.
5. “Better a patient person than a warrior” (Proverbs 16:32)
Finally, after my son woke up with a horrible croup cough, most likely induced from all the potty training stress and from sleeping all night in his own feces, the sense was almost knocked back into me.
I consulted my dear friend, Wendy and my sister-in-law, Becca. I asked them if potty training was supposed to be this hard. They both said “NO” and that my twins were not ready. At that point, that’s all I needed to give up. I was done.
And, hello? Two-year olds need a patient, loving and nurturing mother, not an onerous drill sergeant who commands “Pee in the potty or else!”
The warrior in me wanted to win at potty training, but it dawned on me that this battle was not worth winning, beside the fact that I would never win it because my children weren’t physically capable of controlling themselves.
It is so hard to practice patience in our fast-paced, instant gratification, convenient ridden world, but our children need it from us. This is why my number one most prayed prayer is asking God for patience.
Slowly, but surely, my impatient tendencies are becoming less apparent, and I have only God to thank.