Tonight, after our toddler had long been tucked away for the night, and our six year old drifted off to sleep on the sofa while mama was not-so-prompt with the bedtime routine, the older pair and I sat and talked about wishlists.
The children are certainly excited about the upcoming season and all that it brings. So much so that it has been difficult for them to fix their gaze- mind and body alike- on the tasks at hand in our homeschool. Countless blank pages of computer paper have been sacrificed in the name of sacred Christmas wishlists, both drawn in picture and words alike.
As the children have grown, so has their ability to calculate the costs of the blessed holiday season. And I wish I could say that by this I meant that they are digging deep into their pockets, drawers and secret boxes in searching for a tally of just how much allowance money that have managed to salvage so as to figure their own spending budget's this Christmas.
But sadly, I cannot claim that pride as a parent tonight.
Instead, there are wheels turning and fingers counting up just how much money has, may, could, should and might be spend on them during this holy season.
There is nothing that can take away the sting that a moment like this can cause in a mother's heart.
It is during realities like this that my deepest convictions are confirmed and fanned to flame once again as I, with mixed emotions of righteous anger and a curious hope, think about where we as parents have 'gone wrong' with our children. The searing guilt about the small over-indulgences we have afforded them in this beautiful, plentiful and convenient modern world that is their current reality singe my soul.
Regrets about the ice cream we have given them in the dead of winter when no one should rightfully be eating a frozen treat rear their ugly heads and eat me alive. Sticky sweet sensations of repulsion nip at my heels as I gaze around our home and take in all of the corners of pleasure that we have spread before our children in a ironic attempt to enrich their lives.
The list goes on... and on.
Now, anyone who knows me well or has read this blog for a time now knows well that I can have very strong and deep reactions to things in this life that bring truth, love, beauty and usefulness into my life. But the flip side of that reactive coin is that those same emotions are matched when confronted with my own (or my children's) shortcomings, challenges or vices.
I choose to view this quality of mine as a passion (surely there are other words for it too), and this passion, in most instances, spurs me on to do noble deeds when faced with an upset.
And although I am not so sure what change of course, in terms of circumstances, habits, attitudes and experiences lies ahead, I am certain that the there is much work to be done. I am not naive enough to believe that the fault lies solely with my children, I take ownership of this spirit of entitlement in my home as painful and disappointing as it may be. But I am exceedingly encouraged by the words and truths of Saint Seraphim, the same words that I posted only a few short weeks ago here in this space-
But the fire of love must be kept burning warmly and brightly with the sweet wood of sacrifice. In teaching us to cross the "I" out of life, our Lord tells us the secret of happiness; what the saints call the ecstasy of self-forgetfulness. For divine love is always self-effacing, seeks to give rather than receive, to serve rather than to be served, to love rather than be loved, and will sacrifice anything for the beloved. Only then does love become a clean and holy fire in the heart."So it is decided, the 'ecstasy of self-forgetfulness' shall be a new virtue to strive for during this upcoming season!