December circumstances were such that Mike got to be home with us almost . . . not at all.
It was exhausting for him (though he’s shockingly good at accepting things as they present themselves and generally refraining from grumbling and complaint in situations that call for plenty).
And it was incredibly difficult for me. Several times I felt I could not possibly continue on! The older kids are amazingly responsible and helpful – and I’m able to manage this full and busy home (things I gratefully acknowledge); but . . . there is just such a difference in the dynamics when there are two parents in the house – even if it’s only for a few small hours each night. I can’t even explain it fully. There are so many little things that are slightly shifted when both of us are here. And Mike is much better than I am at both discipline and making life fun. I depend on those skills of his a great deal and having nights and weekends without him interacting with us made this December feel rather heavy.
And with it being the holidays? Did that make it better or worse? I’m not certain actually. It seemed more of an injustice not having him with us during a time of year so full of celebrations and departures from our predictable routines, but . . . I suppose the happiness associated with delivering Christmas treats, having our house strewn with twinkly lights, opening our advent boxes to see what small Christmassy activity we’d do that day, and watching Christmas movies . . . also helped offset some of the disappointment.
And, although I’m sure I will always remember the December with very little of Mike, I am also sure that my memories will still be primarily happy ones! And that’s what I meant to write about. The wonderful things that were a part of this month!
It was still Christmas after all. The kids still excitedly took turns choosing little ornaments to fill the 24 spots on our wooden advent tree. Everyone still oohed and ahhed as they pulled out our traditional decorations from their boxes. There were still Christmas concerts. And Christmas baking. The older kids and I stayed up late many nights playing games. And there were fun things like Daisy determining that the girls all needed new pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve (something I quit trying to make happen after about three kids), and so, of her own accord (and at her own expense), taking all four of her younger sisters to choose pajamas (I need a picture of them all together in their pajamas!). And there was my mom showing up unexpectedly one night with a giant pile of her favorite Christmas books – which the kids talked her into staying to read out loud to them. And, even though it meant longer days later, Mike did manage to get here for birthday evenings and a few other important events (and he still managed to read some of The Hobbit to the kids – which has become Jesse’s favorite thing [I think he even got Jesse out of bed on one or two occasions to come read even though it was late]).
And there were also all these tiny, touching things that kind of shocked me. They were small – a niece sending me an unexpected message that felt like Heavenly Father telling me he loved me and was aware of me. A sister-in-law (who had no idea I was having a difficult month) texting me that she kept thinking about me and wasn’t sure why, but was putting my name on the temple prayer roll. A sister calling out of the blue one afternoon to say she was heading this way and wondered if I could use her watching the younger kids for a few hours while I ran Christmas errands. It wasn’t that any of the acts themselves were huge, but they affected me tremendously because these constant and clear evidences of Heavenly Father’s awareness were so unexpected. If someone were to ask me, certainly I would respond that He is always aware; . . . but it isn’t always something that feels like a reality. But seeing that He would go to the trouble to actually be aware of which people in my sphere’s minds were open to be inspired to think of me – knowing that He would bother to nudge someone to do some small thing just for me when there are a million people with a million heavier burdens. Well, I was amazed and comforted and surprised all at once.
And, to end, some Christmas Eve pictures with Mike! (He had the kids act out the nativity, listen to Christmas songs on the violin, and read Luke 2 with no light but candle light – which made them much quieter somehow than usual [except for when they were fighting over who got to blow the candles out].)