Yesterday was the First Sunday of Advent (Happy Liturgical New Year!). Eric retrieved our advent wreath candle holder from the basement along with the purple and pink candles and various advent season books. We were anticipating blessing our wreath and saying the first night’s prayers, but our dining room table was a disaster: covered from end to end with the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates after a long holiday weekend. While the kids played downstairs, I walked by the table a number of times and had to fight the urge to pick up an item bound for the trash anyway or to remove dishes left by one of the kids or replace a book or toy into the appropriate shelf or bin.
As parents, I think it’s easy to just do everything ourselves: to cook and clean, to put things away, to do all the daily work of a household. For me anyway, nine times out of ten it’s just easier to “do it myself”. Or at least it seems easier, in the moment, to do it myself. How many times has one of the kids come into the kitchen and asked me “is there anything I can do to help?” And I’ve quickly, thoughtlessly replied, “no” as I chop carrots or pour broth or stir the contents of a pot, all tasks simple enough that a child could do it. (Answer: many.) Perhaps I’m loathe to admit that many of the “tasks” that make up my day which, in turn, make up my life’s work are things that a child could do. More likely, most of the time, it feels easier to complete each task by myself in the solitude of the kitchen rather than having to explain, to teach, to make sure they are being safe, to delegate. This attitude isn’t doing any of us any favors, least of all me.
Six yo Z often recalls (in fact she just did tonight) the time when she asked a few times if she could help making dinner. Later on, I admitted to her that I regretted turning down her help. I could have used it.
And so I passed by our dining room table multiple times last evening, resisting the temptation to just take care of everything. I waited until the family was together in the kitchen and asked everyone to clear their things and help clear the table for the wreath. They were happy to do it. There was no grumbling and I barely had to explain anything to them. For the wreath, for the candles, for this special first night of the new liturgical year, they were more than willing and able to pitch in.
It was a particularly beautiful evening, a particularly peaceful start to the new year.