I wrote this two years ago when I had three children under three and another on the way, and it still rings oh so true for me.
It’s advent. God tells us that advent is a time of waiting, being still, preparing our hearts for the Lord. Pinterest and facebook, however, tell a different story. If you follow many moms on social media, you know that advent has become a peak season in the world of competitive parenting. Preparing for Christmas is filled with purchasing perfect red outfits, getting the best Santa photo, and of course creating pinterest worthy crafts with our little ones. After all, it’s not Christmas without a handmade felt tree and a perfect reindeer footprint.
Now there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these activities. Sharing the magic of Santa as you wait in line to meet him, spending time sitting together and creating a Christmas craft, these are good things. These are some great moments in parenting. The problem creeps in when we are too focused on choosing an instagram filter to notice how amazed our toddler is by the texture of cotton balls. Or even worse, when we fail to even try to make a special moment because we know our effort won’t look like anything on our “holiday” pinterest board.
As a recovering perfectionist, this is one of my struggles: learning that my kids don’t need a picture perfect effort, that they are so proud of the result no matter how crazy it looks. But with three under three, I’m learning to embrace their perspective a bit more. As advent began this year, I browsed through all the adorable things I had pinned over the year. And then I returned to real life. So for our first advent art project, we made cookies. Slice and bakes, to be exact. I sliced them onto a cookie sheet and let the twins cover them in store-bought Christmas sprinkles. And….they loved it! For the 15 minutes we were decorating those cookies and talking about how we cook things, they thought I was an awesome mom. Our next advent art was painting ornaments….that I bought at the craft store. I literally peeled a sticker off each ornament and plopped out some finger paint. And the twins were AMAZED. So far, other projects have included decorating paper trees and ornaments from the Target dollar section, coloring pages from our Christmas coloring book, and literally gluing cotton balls onto a purple piece of paper (this was snow art on the day it snowed, and was actually a crowd favorite). Trust me when I say that none of these would be pin-worthy. Not even close. But my kids loved each project. They loved having me sit at their mini table. They loved having my full attention. They loved talking about Christmas and trees and ornaments and Jesus’ birthday. And isn’t that the point? Isn’t the point of this season to slow down enough to love our family well, to treasure the gifts God has given us, to take the time to talk to our little ones about precious baby Jesus.
So mommy friends, remember that your kids don’t need a pinterest Christmas. They just need you. If your reindeer rolo/pretzel creations turn out less than recognizable, who cares! Kids enjoy the process, not the result, and we would be wise to remember that. In fact, perhaps we should ban pictures of crafting results, and instead only capture those precious process moments. The way our little ones look when they are trying to figure out the perfect place for their next spot of glue. Their pride when they pour sprinkles on their cookies all by themselves. The way their face lights up when you tell them how much dad will love seeing their latest creation when he gets home from work. Perhaps there should be a pinterest board for that.