That’s a heavy word for me. Enough. It sits on my shoulder and sticks its fingers into every aspect of my life. Enough. Do you have enough? Are you enough? Do you DO enough?
Especially in this season. I have been struggling a lot lately with that concept. Particularly with the children. The past year has ushered us into a new realm, one where we don’t have a steady flow of cash coming in, which then means that we have to be really careful with how the cash that DOES come in goes out. I am not particularly skilled in this area. We are working on it.
But I am really struggling with Christmas shopping. Our office is literally FILLED with boxes from Amazon and from our family, all with presents for the kids. MOST of it is from my family, I will say that. But our “Big” gifts for the kids are nestled in there, too (one for each kid). And yet, every single day, I have to fight the pang of uneasiness that the kids will get through their presents this year and somehow recognize that it isn’t as much and that somehow that means that we love them less. CRAZY, I KNOW. But it’s there. I see deals pop up, and I catch myself with an internet cart full of STUFF, ready to check out. Or I pop into Target for some much needed groceries, and find myself hemming and hawing about perhaps just getting them each one or two more THINGS. And STOCKINGS. I have NOTHING to stuff the stockings with. But we just don’t have the money. And the very sane, very small piece of my brain KNOWS that they don’t need it, and an even smaller part of my brain is pretty sure that the kids will survive with just the few presents they have from us.
Enough. Did I get them enough? Will know that they are enough? Am I enough for them as a parent?
How do we draw the line when it comes to accumulation? How do we recognize when we have tipped over into greed and hoarding? And not just with belongings… but with time, energy, attention? How do we fight the very instilled reflex to grab and stash?
There is a story in the Bible where a man tells Jesus he wants to follow Him, and Jesus tells this man that in order to do that, he must sell all of his things. The man leaves, very disappointed. He must have had very nice stuff.
That is me, every day. I tell Jesus YES, and he says OK, but you have to walk away from your stuff, from your attention, from your high-fives, and good-jobs. And I bite my lip, and I hesitate.
It’s not the Stuff that I am sad I won’t be able to give my kids this season. It’s the instant gratification that I get as a parent whose child has been taught that stuff equals love dishes out when they rip that paper open. It’s the fact that I cannot hide behind a pile this Christmas, and that I must show up to parent and to walk side by side with my children. That is HARD. And what if we get there, and ta-da, turns out I’m not very good at that.
I wish that everyone who reads this knew me personally. I wish you could put my face, my actions to this post. Because I am fairly certain that those who DO know me may be surprised that I could think this low of myself as a parent. And that’s what I want. I want there to be this uncomfortable friction between your perception of me and the words that I write here.
It is HARD to show up for our kids. It is so much easier to get them their THINGS that they can hide behind, so you can hide behind your things, and everyone is cozy. And guys, I am a GOOD parent, and I still struggle with this (among SO MANY OTHER THINGS). It has taken me YEARS (almost 9 to be exact) to even START to see the truth in some of my flaws as a mama. And that truth is hard to swallow. It’s hard to even CATCH. If it feels your recognition coming, it ducks and dodges out of your sight, and because it’s a HARD truth, you let it. Because you know if you catch it, you have to deal with it. You have to drag it in the light and see every little bit of it.
But there is such freedom in that.
There are so many families that have less than us. We are comfortable. We have a home, we have our health. We are, as they say, sitting pretty. It galls me that I am even worried about this type of thing, as other families are struggling to just keep the heat on or be able to put some kind of dinner on the table on Christmas.
But the lessons are there nonetheless.
The irony is there… to be enough, you let everything go. It doesn’t mean that you don’t own anything, just that you aren’t too worked up to see it go should it leave down the road sometime.
So on Christmas morning, I will show up. We will open the presents from their cousins and grandparents, and the one from us. And after, I will be there, empty handed, but offering them time… attention… offering them the things that I will hopefully let go of for myself.
I think I will always be fighting that urge. I would love if it just disappeared over time, but I think it’s there to stay. The vacuum, and the urging of our go-get-em culture, is too strong to go away completely. But hopefully it will get easier. Hopefully I will see how much more valuable my empty hands can be to those I love.