Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentines Day–Barf

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Instead of Valentines Hazel made this little picture out of her felt.  I guess deep down her pre-teen self thinks it’s kind of a pukey holiday.  I love that girl. She’s got personality. 

I don’t think she really dislikes Valentines day.  I think she may have actually been feeling a little barfy when she made it.  But, it did make me stop and wonder, do I like this holiday?  Of course there are all the cynical arguments to not like it – commercialism, contrived expressions of love, how it makes people feel who don’t have a significant other etc etc.  And then there are the reasons that tempt me to dislike any holiday – all those perfect moms posting all the perfect things they did to celebrate (of course I don’t really resent this….I’m just jealous since I’m so not good at doing those pinable holiday things), all the hoopla and work kids expect to make the holiday match up with previous ones, or with the ones they hear about from their friends. 

But, in truth, I do like Valentines day.  I like that it gives us pause to stop and think about those we love.  To reflect on how we love them.  To express our love for them in a more formal way.  I love all the ideas out there to help families demonstrate their love for each other, all the heart attacks and family dates and romance between mom and dad.  To me, that is all good stuff.  Stuff that really can make our kids feel secure and loved and like they belong. IMG_3294

We did our fair share of that over the weekend.  We went on a little family date last night, out to eat and disco bowling.  We had a really great time (until it got a little too late and I got a little too insistent on taking a picture….all that for this blurry picture? when will I learn?).   We had pink oatmeal for breakfast and pink bread for lunch and after church we made and brought some little treats to people in our congregation who were lonely.  Tonight the kids served us a very romantic and hilarious candle light dinner.  They even put themselves to bed while we sat by the fire. IMG_3499

But tonight as I cleaned up the mess from the weekend I wondered, through all this celebrating, did my kids actually feel loved by me?  I did all the outward things that they expected from the holiday.  I wrote them love letters and left buckets of candy by their breakfast plates.   But I was tired from staying up late preparing and my patience wasn’t perfect.  I was frazzled as I moved us through all the things that I felt the holiday demanded of us.

I’m not saying I did it totally wrong.  I think I got a lot of it right.  I just want to make sure that the stuff of holidays doesn’t get in the way of the real meaning behind them.  The stuff is productive, it’s tangible, it’s something we can see and measure and post.  But the real love that we’re celebrating today is so utterly different from the stuff that it generates.  We can’t see or measure or post love.  We don’t plan love.  It’s not on our to do list.

But love is the substance of everything.  If I step back to examine my motivations, love is the engine driving what I do.  Though there are whole days and weeks and seasons where I don’t recognize it, where I plow through the to do lists without seeing the love that’s actually propelling my actions.  I’ve found that when I stop to love and to recognize the love embedded in the work I’m doing then even the mundane motherhood tasks become meaningful, become a part of the real magic of love. 

Richard A. Swenson, M. D. says: “Love is the only thing that will exit out the other side. It will stand alone, vindicated. It will finally and clearly be seen for the dominant, unbeatable, infinite, glorified force it has always been, just obscured for millennia by layers of fallen clutter.”

With each holiday that passes I’m realizing more and more the importance of cutting through the “layers of fallen clutter” to see love as the real force that drives the celebration.   It is through recognizing this force that I can see clearly into which parts of the holiday really matter to our family, which holiday ‘stuff’ will bring us closer to the core meaning.

Because without love at the core, Valentines Day is a pretty barfy holiday. 

18 comments:

  1. This is such an "Eyre" post. It just amazes me that the Eyre bloggers go way above and beyond to do spectacular things and then question if their kids "actually felt loved by you". That's crazy. Your kids did the most awesome act of love by the dinner and you had a great night of fun and you gave back to the community and you are still questioning yourself? The over thinking is crazy.

    I love your message, I really do! Of course you do all these things with love. I'm not sure where the worry should come in--because you lose your patience sometimes? You have wonderful kids that are way beyone loved with an incredible extended family. It is truly above and beyond what most people have and do as families.

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  2. You are a great mom!

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    2. Thanks Laura for the perspective, you're right, there was a lot of love underlying it all. Just want to make sure the clutter doesn't drown it out.

      And I know, the over thinking is totally a crazy Eyre trait that we should all probably see a therapist for :). But I was pretty serious when I wrote this last night, I know I'm a pretty good mom and that I'm giving my kids lots of really good stuff, but I also really do think I have a problem getting caught up in the work of motherhood and sometimes forget the love that drives it. And when I start doing things out of duty or expectations instead of love then the feeling really does change around here. I'm not sure I'm ready to fully air all the problems it creates (they're a little too embarrassing) but it's more than just impatience. it's anger and short fuses and yelling and it ripples through the family. And I know that doesn't feel good to my kids or my husband. Sure, they'll survive, we all will, but this post was just to remind me that I need to make sure I recognize love at the heart of what i do. Otherwise I really think all the stuff is just clutter, getting in the way.


      Though I may feel it a little acutely, I don't think I'm alone in my struggle to find this balance. I hope not.

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    3. You are awesome!!

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  3. Love the art from Hazel! So fun, funny, and real. This "super deliberate" parenting style you and your sisters have going on is really thought provoking to read and generates some good ideas. But to live it seems exhausting and I'm guessing results in kids (and spouses) feeling scrutinized and inadequate. Do you ever feel scrutinized? Oftentimes Good enough really is just that... Good enough!

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    1. Oh no Jenny! I think this post might have come across differently that I intended (given a few of the comments here). But they've given me a lot to think about! I think my life does feel a little scrutinized at times and I"m sure my kids and husband feel that too....shoot, now I've got something new to overthink! (Just kidding). I'm sure i overdo it at times, but I think it was Socrates who said "the unexamined life is not worth living." I think all of us around here are happier when I'm working hard on becoming who I need and want to be, and that doesn't just happen without some kind of thought.

      And keep in mind, I don't normally blog about the things that I'm not thinking about....so it may look like I'm scrutinizing more than I actually am!

      Thanks again for your perspective. This is one of the things I love about this blog world. It's so valuable to get some different viewpoints.

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  4. I love this idea of making sure we don't lose the real meaning in holidays or even just the real purpose of parenting. And I had to laugh about the bowling picture - sounds like something that would happen in my family.

    p.s. I totally get the over-thinking! I'm the same way. But I really appreciate you posting it, as it gives me some more great stuff to overthink. Hahaha!

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    1. Thanks Camile! I"m glad I'm not the only one!

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  5. Valentine's isn't really a holiday for all. Schools in the US encourage it in younger grades cause even though there is a saint involved technically there is no mention of that and no "manager scene". It's a commercial holiday for couples. She should roll her eyes and treat it as a day for those in a couple. And she did that with her contribution to her parents meal. Even with a "grinch" felling. You can't control anothers feelings but you can expect certain behavior and actions and I'd say she did awesome. The real time to do something special as a couple is the anniversary of marriage or first date.

    Jehovah's Witness spend a great deal of effort making sure there are no special days, save maybe Easter. It seems LDS are prone to try and make every day a decorated song and dance. Or maybe it's just the LDS that blog?

    Meaningful traditions are rare and happen by chance, not because someone thought to make it a tradition to make pink muffins in feb 14. A tradition happens when someone falls into a pool fully dressed on their birthday, everyone laughs, and then decide to go swimming every birthday after that. If they happen all the time they are no longer special. Valentine's is close to the Christmas season which is full of traditions. Nativities, charity, going to see lights, decorating, making cookies, reading by the tree, sleepover by the tree, going to plays, secret Santa, cards, parties... I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Think on it. 20 days after thanksgiving for a month have something diffent about them. It's exhausting.

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    1. Yes, I love this description of what a tradition is. Spot on! Most of our very best traditions that the kids really want to engage in each year are ones that just ended up happening on their own. Good reminder. Thanks!

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    2. Hi kms,
      If I was married I wouldn't celebrate Valentine's Day but instead would do something special every month on the date that we were married.

      Like if we married on Dec 1st every month on the 1st I would do something special to celebrate being married another month.

      I know a couple who have been married for over 40 years & still do this every month. I think it's lovely.

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    3. It does sound lovely. Consider your spouse. 480 Valentine's Day or wedding anniversaries is a lot of pressure. I'm sure there is more to the 40 year marriage. Life throws stuff at you. What if his mom dies on the first of the month 12 years in?

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  6. Wow, Valentines Day is so different in the US than the UK. Here it's all about being in a relationship & some of us singles call it "Singles' Awareness Day."

    I love in the US how you show love for others on this day, like you & your family did for your neighbours.

    What happened to Hazel? I hope she's ok.

    I think your blog is brill & I love how down-to-earth/honest you are on it.

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  7. Hi Saydie! Oh how I wish you'd blog more often (it's been so fun to read your recent posts!) So much of what you write resonates with me (especially your mid-life issues you just wrote about). :) Thanks for taking the time to share.

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  8. I love the real life perspective of this post. It's how I felt this weekend. I was so busy supporting all my kids in their activities that no one (husband or kids) got a love note, gift, or special dinner on Valentine's. I just didn't have it in me. But I'd spent all last week and then this week doing extras for everyone, so I was giving out as much love to them as I could even if it wasn't cutsie enough for Instagram! But I have pondered that I need to make sure I'm not doing so much busy stuff everywhere that I forget to "love" in the moment.

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  9. Love the Swenson quote....and love Saydi

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  10. Love the Swenson quote....and love Saydi

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