A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
(The Journey of the Magi, T.S. Eliot)
We woke this morning to a beautiful dusting of snow on the ground. The boys are dressed in snow pants and mittens, outside playing while my husband brings the patio furniture inside for storage. And we wait for days of warmth once again. Christmas is only 9 days away now. And this season has been what you might expect from parents of young ones. There haven’t been any magical sleigh rides, we haven’t built gingerbread houses or made cookies from scratch. There were no afternoons spent making homemade ornaments for the tree. The days are busy with everything else, the preschool drop-offs and errand-running, the time spent trying to remove yet another stain from that favourite sweater. The vacuuming of crumbs leftover from yesterday’s lunch.
And the weeks slip by in a blur, and before you know it the fridge needs to be restocked once again, the just emptied hamper is all of a sudden overflowing, another bill needs to be paid. Raising kids is a journey, and such a long journey.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
When days and weeks feel weary, feel noisy and breathless, I find myself wishing for the ease of days without kids. When time was my own, and energy was abounding. When sentences flowed from my lips like honey, instead of in awkward starts and stops. And I am not trying to say that parents have the worst of it, I know that any job comes with stress and tiring demands. I’m only saying that tired parents, I see you. I am you. I see the mother who has been house bound all week waiting for her child’s fever to break. I see the mother who comes home from work exhausted but puts a smile on and drives her son to his school concert. I see the mom waking every hour at night with her baby while her husband travels for work. I see the parents waiting an hour in line when they’d rather be at home on their couch, just so their child can sit on Santa’s knee. I see the mother waiting tables at night so she can pay the power bill in the morning.
The ways can be deep and the weather sharp. But is there any light guiding us onward? I catch glimpses of it, glimmers of the hope I seek. When I hold my toddler in the rocking chair, singing a lullaby as he sucks his thumb, eyes heavy. The world disappearing in this moment. When we’re all snuggled on the couch before bedtime, playing cards, snacking on pistachios straight from the bag, Christmas carols playing in the background. In that moment all is calm, all is bright.
I am realizing more and more that this life I have with my kids is the best one for me. And though it is a long journey, full of longing for a different time, an easier time, parenting is a gift. An honour I have been given. And when I can slow down, and be okay with the discomfort, I find the starlight that leads me to the place where joy and love and peace were born, for me and for you. I find a place of love, where this mother’s heart for her boys is but a faint shimmer compared to the Heart that burns bright for me.
Like the Magi, may we find the star that leads us through the dead of winter, to a place of warmth and rest. Into the arms of The Perfect Light.