Monday, 28 December 2015

when the kids came home for Christmas

#midlife blog ~ crestingthehill.com.au

A week or so ago I wrote a post here about the anticipation of having our adult children and their spouses come home for Christmas. Christmas is now behind us and they've left to go back to their own homes and lives....but not before I do a recap of what this family Christmas meant to me!

Christmas has been a bit of a fraught time for me over the last few years. I had a picture in my head of us all together relaxing while I enjoyed an extended  visit from our offspring and their partners at this special time. I would be surrounded by my children who wanted to be together in our home sharing time and love and Christmas spirit. (Notice all the "I's", "me's" and "my's" in those sentences? - They may just be a small indication of me being a little self-centred about it all!)

Funnily enough, my vision of Christmas togetherness was not how things panned out during the early stages of our children being married. They needed to work out how to fit in two sets of parents each, four or more sets of grandparents each, and a multitude of aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides. So our little family microcosm was just a blip on the radar in their juggling of family traditions and trying to be in half a dozen different places at once (oh the joys of Christmas festivities!)

The big lesson that Christmas has taught me is that everyone has their own set of expectations and you can't shove yours onto your children and expect that everyone will be happy. So, with time and pain and a readjustment or two (or three), this year Christmas was pretty darn good - as far as I was concerned anyway - and (judging from the picture I quickly snapped of them above) - it was good for them too.

release expectations and enjoy things for they are - Mandy Hale

Expectations are the biggest cause of heartache for me - I need to be more realistic in what I want from family life. I think coming from a fairly dysfunctional family background has made me try too hard to make my own family fit my picture of "perfect". Letting go and letting our kids find their own balance has been a wonderfully freeing experience and this Christmas has been all the more relaxed and special because of it.

So, my advice (not that I give advice), to parents struggling with the changes that adult children bring with them, is let go. Don't hold on too tightly, don't get your hopes too high, accept that you aren't the centre of their universe, and open yourself up to new ideas and compromises. I think Boxing Day is going to be our "Christmas Day" and that's really fine. I'd rather have a relaxed and chilled out day or two somewhere around the Christmas season than a forced and stressed day that nobody really feels happy about. 

The kids are gone, peace has descended and I think we all had a lovely time - what more could a mother ask for? Who knows what Christmas 2016 holds? I'll just wait and see.


32 comments:

  1. What, no mention of the joys of having four cats under the one roof? I think Callie will be hiding until Easter from the stress of it all!
    It was lovely to come for a visit and see you in between the endless Christmas commitments xx

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    1. I forgot to mention those four cats! Callie has recovered and reappeared from under the lounge around tea time :) xx

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    1. thanks Mimi - it's all a learning curve being a parent (it never seems to stop!) :)

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  3. I think you are on to a great compromise. The picture looks like everyone is relaxed!

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    1. they were pretty chilled out Haralee - I tried really hard not to pile any more events onto them so when they were home they could relax. I think it went well!

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  4. Ah we were on the other end this year with extended family expecting us to participate in their celebrations and we holding on to our traditional quiet Christmas at home. It's best that everyone gets space to celebrate the way you want. Glad you all had a good Christmas, Leanne.

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    1. My daughter would be with you if she could - she was completely Christmas-ed out by the time she'd finished with two days of family events! I think she will sleep for the next week :)

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  5. It feels my heart with joy to see your family Leanne, gathered together on the couch. I had the same happy feeling when we were having Christmas dinner and everybody was making an effort to be nice. You sound really blessed and that's what's it all about. Happy New Year! xx Abby

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    1. Happy New Year to you to Abby - it is a real feeling of blessing when your family is together and everyone is at peace. I really hope it's how our Christmases always end up :)

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  6. I totally agree with that quote. Expectations can be a joy killer - and for no reason! Happy holidays!

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    1. It's a lesson I've been a bit slow learning Lois - but I'm getting there!

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  7. I love that you have learned to let go. When my husband was in the military, we would not make it home often at all (He was hardly ever home for the holidays), and all of the expectations made our visits so stressful. There were many times I opted to spend holidays with friends when he was deployed, just to avoid the extra stress.

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    1. this has been such a lesson to me Jessica about seeing it from a different perspective and not just my own wants. It's been an eye opener (although I've been a bit of a slow learner!)

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  8. Oh, Leanne, I'm so glad it went well! You are so right ... our expectations have the potential to ruin the best of things for us!

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    1. It's about putting ourselves in the other person's place and realizing that it's not all about "me" - something I'm still learning Lori :)

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  9. I have enjoyed reading this post, you are right expectations are always troubling so it is better not to expect too much.

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    1. expectations can be real killers and I'm coming to terms with that more and more.

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  10. You are my role model for this stage of life. I'll be there soon, and this is such great advice. Glad you had a wonderful Christmas with your family!

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    1. It is so hard to let go Lana and to allow them to make their own choices and new traditions. This has been years in the making and there's no guarantee for next Christmas (but my fingers are crossed!)

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  11. I had to change my expectations Leanne when we became a blended family and there were 4 sets of parents plus then when the children found partners it increased! I made my Christmas the week before as I wanted to enjoy my family and have quality time. You make some great points here about our expectations - unfortunately others have different ones so it is a constant compromise. I'm glad you enjoyed your Christmas xx

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    1. Thanks Sue - I can imagine that blended families have it even harder than we do. I just want everyone to be happy but there is that little voice always saying "what about me?" - this year I think we got it right.

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  12. I totally get where you are coming from Leanne with 5 kids, 3 of them married, 6 grandkids, lots of extended family and trying to make everyone feel they have time to see who they want/everyone see whom they feel they should and me aka mom-grandma-daughter-wife spinning all the balls in the air while trying to feed the masses, clean up a bit (blog in between) and do emotional damage control of about all who come within 50 miles. It's a trick, but WE can do this right!?! At least get in a really good nap before the next gathering, lol.

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    1. I'm deliberately not thinking ahead about the next gathering. I am just going to savour getting it pretty right this year - I'm hoping it wasn't a fluke and we can pull it off for future Christmases. :)

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  13. it's so hard around the holidays to adjust what you want to happen over what is realistic - I am guilty of sending my expectations into fairy land over the holidays but you re completely right about how we have to be mindful of all of the different elements that are affecting others! Great Post

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    1. thanks Charlotte - I think we have fairytale ideas of perfect families and when we let those ideas go and embrace what we have in front of us we are truly blessed.

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  14. It is quite an adjustment, learning to let go of your expectations. We used to have great times during the holidays until my boys had to move away and now it has never been the same. I found myself telling my girls that we have to make the time we spend together without the boys count as much. So I have to lower my expectations in a differnt way from you. We grow and adapt. Happy New Year to you and your family Leanne!!

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    1. thanks Mary - I think parenting adult children is just a series of adjustments (mostly on our part!) as they make their way in the world and we become less of a focus for them. We just have to make the most of those moments we get :)

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  15. I'm glad you had such a great time Leanne! Happy New Year!

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    1. and happy new year to you too Rena - and to your family. I hope your Christmas together went well and that your mum had a good time with everyone too xx

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  16. I'm sure the house is much quieter now Leanne but not for long, soon you will have a little one running around.

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  17. Again Leanne, I hear you on this, I'm actually feeling it with other holidays too. To compete with all the other relatives involved gets overwhelming for me. I'll admit, selfishly, I want them all at my house, my terms, my fun....my, my my.. Thanks for putting it all into the perpespective it needs to be in.

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