Moms of Stillwater: Present for the new year?

MOSphotoOctBY ELIZABETH WESTERHAUS
GAZETTE COLUMNIST

Ah … here we are.
Because, well, before you know it, there YOU are.
Already through the holidays. As quickly as they begin, we’re crossing that bridge into the next.
Christmas almost a blur now.
Long since past are the hours of shopping, wrapping, suiting up and braving Minnesota winter weather to find the perfect tree, cookie baking,
binge eating, exercise-ignoring, Christmas card-sending and all the things we psychotically cram into the already crazy month, on TOP of our already crazy lives.
But between the hustle and bustle, as we bid adieu to sanity and stretch our arms open wide to chaos, throw another helping of high energy and holiday lights onto our platter, we (thankfully) arrive at a new year.
After the last champagne glass has been tinked and the countdown has been celebrated, we sit. Ah … it feels good.
Life is good. And full.
But exhausting this time of year, for many.
Behind our own wants and needs and life as adults and parents, we are here to build and nourish childhoods.
And that is SO evident this time of year, when the spirit of Christmas overcomes us all.
It’s not easy to do this. To raise children. To give them ALL of ourselves and more, even during the holidays.
It’s easier to give them an iPad. To shoo them away. To distract and preoccupy their growing minds with new apps and Wii games.
I think for many of us it takes practice to set our own lives aside, to enjoy theirs.
But when we do, we’re never disappointed.
So I continue to do my best, to practice more, in creating extra space for them.
Devoting the time and energy and love that is rightfully theirs, just by being born to us.
Learning to stop long enough to enjoy the scenery instead of continuously looking ahead.
The holidays still linger around here, .at least through the end of January.
As my mom says, “Christmas Day is when it all begins.”
So I keep my Christmas playlist on repeat, leave the lights up and the tree. The holiday hand towels still hang from the stove.
Sadly we’re too busy during the days leading up to Christmas to really ENJOY the season.
So I give us that. To relish it a little longer.
As we ride out the wave of the Christmas excitement, moving headlong in to a new year, I remind myself there’s nothing I can do or accomplish, no dream so amazing to chase, that’s more important than being a present parent.
As my wise father-in-law always says, “Each year we get a little smarter.”
Until I have learned to be fully present — a concept that will be a lifelong practice for me — in these quiet moments, after the kids have gone to bed, the holiday madness has subsided, everything comes into crystal-clear focus.
Although having dreams is all good and well, it is equally as important to be present in what is.

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