As the ornament went crashing into the tile floor, shattering into a thousand pieces, all I could do was scream! 

My daughter stood there crying at what she had accidentally done, and I continued to scream and yell and cry.  Yes, I know that I was supposed to stay calm…yes, I know that it was only an ornament (even though it had belonged to my late grandmother).  Yes, I know that I should have just told her it was OK – it was just an accident – cleaned it up and went about my day.  Yes, I know that.  I know that.  I know that. 

But, haven’t you had a moment where you know what you should do and should say but instead of sweet sighs, there are screams of frustration… instead of “it’s OK dear” there are “what the heck were you thinking?” and instead of patiently teaching your child a life lesson, you find yourself giving them a piece of your mind?  That’s where I was.

I sent my daughter to her room so I could cool off and clean up the mess.  I huffed around the house getting out the dust pan, broom, and vacuum to clean up all of the trillions of pieces all over the floor.  I tried to get every teeny, tiny piece that I could, but I shook my head knowing that one of these pieces was probably going to get the last word in the bottom of my unsuspecting bare foot in the very near future! 

As I took a moment to breathe, looking at all the broken pieces in the dustpan, I thought “why did I get so upset about this ornament?”  And then I realized that it wasn’t just about the ornament (it usually never is, is it?).  When it broke, every emotion, every annoyance, everything that I had “held myself together” for throughout this busy, crazy, frustrating fall…

  • every dragging kids out of bed in the morning for school…
  • every complaint about where we were going, what we were doing, and how long it was going to take for us to get there…
  • every You’re-doing-the-pee-pee-dance-again-please-go-to-the-bathroom-no-I-don’t-have-to-go-please-don’t-make-me conversations I’ve had…
  • every “Don’t touch that” and “No, there’s no crying allowed while putting up the Christmas tree”…
  • every chase around the house followed by a wrestling match trying to get a toddler’s diaper changed and clothes on…
  • every argument with my husband…
  • every we must bake this, make this, take this, have this, buy this, and do this…

all exploded out at once!  The instant that the ornament shattered, I felt all my self-control shatter.  I had reached my limit.  Everything had been piling up, picking, poking, and jabbing at me, and I lost it! Maybe you can relate?

What do we need to do instead?

  1. Pray–Lord, fill us with joy.  This season is about YOU.  There are so many things that can easily distract us from the purpose of celebrating Christmas in the first place.  Bring resolve and healing to issues in our lives and give us wisdom on how to proceed.  Keep our focus on You–not just for this Christmas season–but always! 
  1. Give Ourselves Grace–We are only human.  We are going to make mistakes.  I used to beat myself up for hours-sometimes days-after a “lose it” moment, but now I’m so much better at asking for forgiveness and moving on.  And that’s what I did.  I walked up to my daughter’s room.  I hugged her and I apologized to her and we moved on.  Everyone makes mistakes.
  1. Ask for help–Moms, why do we often wait until our breaking point before we ask for help?  I must work on this too, because guess what?  Sometimes we DO need help!  Calling a friend, asking a family member to watch the kids for a bit, making time for a date night with your husband or with yourself, talking to a counselor or pastor and of course, always asking God for His wisdom can help tremendously!
  1. Don’t force the joy–When we have a bad day this time of year, we can be even harder on ourselves because we’re “supposed” to be joyful—after all it’s Christmas season…the season of JOY!  But let’s not force the joy.  Let’s choose the joy. Let’s be grateful that we serve a God who came to bring us joy that we can choose to unwrap all year long…not just during this season! 

Thank God for that because even at Christmastime motherhood is still hard, kids will still drive you crazy, and it’s only a matter of time before the next ornament gets dropped! 

Christine Leeb

Christine Leeb--Speaker and Christian Family Coach specializing in Parenting and Child Discipline.  Founder of Real Life Families--a non-profit organization building better families through free classes and resources.  Mother to three awesome (and exhausting) children from whom she shamefully hides brownies.  Wife to one patient (and polar-opposite) husband with whom she constantly quotes "Friends".  www.RealLifeFamilies.org