Confession: I am a self professed perfectionist who doesn’t let her kids help decorate the christmas tree. And I'm ok with that.
As I was sitting on the sidelines at Miss 8’s last Oztag game of the season I was talking with a few mums, a tad excited about my week's efforts at setting up Christmas at home. It’s only a few days into Nov, but Christmas is already in full swing at the Coulson household. The benefit of downsizing, as we have done this year, is that I have enough decorations to Christmas-ify every room in the house!!! And for the first time in my life I have a mantel - a place to hang all the stockings and garland - to add to my delight. I was really feeling proud of my efforts.
But as we got talking I discovered that these mums all let their kids decorate their trees on the 1st of December, with all their kids homemade decorations brought home from kindy each year. It's a mishmash of colour and design and a hodgepodge of placement that they just love. And for a second my good old friend, Mother Guilt stopped in for a visit and I started to berate myself for not being a better mum. For not celebrating all those homemade trinkets and decorations that have come through the door each year, or for letting my kids decorate the tree by themselves. If I'm honest, the very thought of it gives me an eye twitch.
If I knew what I know now, maybe I would have done things differently. But maybe I wouldn't have either. Unfortunately I have been a perfectionist from as early as I can remember. We could psychoanalyse that for a moment but we’ll leave that for another day. Needless to say, letting the kids in on the decorating was never really a strong point of mine, and by the time I realized there were some benefits to letting them participate, it was too late. They were very happy to sit back and watch me do all the hard work.
And while I was sitting there listening to the conversation, hoping with everything in me that these mums would just keep on talking to each other so I didn’t have to reveal my weakness publicly, one turned to me and asked the inevitable question. So what do you do in your family? Oh ohhhh!!! Here goes nothing.
As I started to make excuses for the fact that I do it all on my own, and have never really been able to relax in my space when the kids get involved in the decorating, it occurred to me that my kids actually really love that I decorate the house. So much so that the lounge room that is usually only ever inhabited when the TV is on is now their chosen place to hang whenever they are around, all since the tree went up. Whether it's a new theme in their bedroom, a change of colour scheme in the living room or decorating for a party, they have always taken delight in my efforts to make our house feel like a home.
It's amazing how quick we are to justify our actions when they are different from someone elses. How quickly we find ourselves feeling guilty for not being better, and yet that's the beauty of this life. There's not one way to parent. An open heart and mind allows us to recognise when things can be improved or bettered, but if it's just because we do things differently to someone else, then we find ourselves wallowing with good old Mother Guilt for no good reason at all. I may not do Christmas like you, but I'm ok with that.