Parents, but maybe mostly mamas...can I talk to you for a moment? Can I risk that you'll feel defensive, or lash out, to say something that really needs to be said?
Today, on a day that is special for many people due to religious or cultural reasons, make the most of it in a real way.
Yes, I said real. Don't skip over the nickel to pick up the penny.
When your children are firmly squeezed into their expensive, fancy clothes, don't give 'em a smack or yell at 'em when they unloosen a few buttons or get their clothes inevitably dirty while playing. Today, bite back the yell to, "Stay clean!" Instead, remind them that you love them and love their zeal for life.
Today, when they are eating that Easter feast and spill on their laps or wipe with their sleeve, make eye contact. Smile. Rejoice that your table is filled to the brim with delicious food. Be thankful that your child has food to spill. Be thankful your child is sitting in that chair next to you, healthy and alive.
When you put together that bunny basket, stop. Stop that nasty voice in your head that says you didn't do a good enough job and that you didn't give them enough, and that it wasn't fancy enough and that others have more and give more. Maybe you've just had a baby and things are crazy. Maybe money is really really tight this year. Maybe you're struggling with a chronic issue. Stop beating yourself up and putting yourself down. Instead, remind yourself that you did what you could, and that you did it for them, and that you did it with love.
When you sit down for a church service, avoid the pinches, arm grabs, death glares or taking them out back to spank them. Avoid imagining what other people are thinking about your parenting. Don't spend that time stewing, teeth grinding, anxiety rising. If they wiggle, hold them and sing louder. If you need to step outside, do silly jumping jacks and laugh for a minute with your children. Smile big, and hug your children in that church, and remind others that God welcomes the little children. Today, welcome your children at the church service, as they are and without judging them.
When your children meltdown from too much candy, too many chemical exposures, too many strangers touching them and talking to them, too much noise, too much stimulation, show them mercy. Show them comfort. They aren't doing it to embarrass you or inconvenience you. They are little people having a very hard time. Practice feeling comfortable with big emotions. Practice telling others that big emotions are okay. Take a time-in together to reconnect and calm down. Leave the event if necessary. Show your children that their needs and discomforts are taken seriously.
And most of all, today, set it down. Set down that dish. Those deviled eggs do not have to be perfect. Set down that phone. It can wait. Set down those fancy Easter decorations. Set down the broom and vacuum. Let people learn to love you and your lived in home, and if they can't, let them leave your life.
Today, show your children how to LIVE. Show them how to LOVE. Show them laughter. Show them presence. Show them what it means to feel blessed and to stretch your arms out wide and experience happiness. Don't mutter over the cost of candy. Don't curse at the dirty house. Don't yell at them when they interrupt your hurried crafting. Put it all down and BE with them today.
Today is only one day. It will never come around again, and you can never return it for a different journey. Make it count the real way.