Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's All In the Details

All of today's lifestyle coaching will tell you to forget the details. You know what I mean, "Keep It Simple Silly", "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" and "Choose Which Hill You're Going to Die On". All sound advice and all things that adulthood and especially parenthood have beaten into me.  However, a few small experiences over this holiday season have turned my thinking on it's ear.

I used to be very particular, almost obsessive,  about the decor in my home, every picture frame and figurine had to line up just so. You can imagine how quickly that changed with the addition of three small children to the family. Not only do I have less decorations, but I just don't care if my end tables are adorned with a mixture of framed family photos, Legos and Barbie shoes. Okay, maybe I care just a little, but I'm not letting it drive me any crazier than I already am. I've even given up control of the Christmas tree. The kids have a complete free for all, my job is just to help fill in the top where they can't reach. No more perfect positioning of every ornament. With my growing wisdom as a parent I have let go of  these details.

But have I stopped noticing details all together? Surely not. Or so I thought until a few weeks a go. Putting laundry away one regular Saturday afternoon, I stopped and looked at the handle I was getting ready to pull on my husband's dresser. I'd opened the drawer at least a thousand times, after all we'd had this furniture almost four years. The handle was upside down. I don't mean someone had pushed against the handle and left it stuck up in the air. I mean it had been screwed on at the factory upside down. Quickly taking in the rest of the dresser I was shocked to realize that six of the 10 handles were upside down. How in Heavens name had we missed this? Was it important in the grand scheme of things? No. Did it scare me a little that I was rushing around so much in my life that I didn't see what was right in front of my face? Yes. I was so disturbed I called my husband.

Understandably he thought I was cracked, as usual. "Are you sure? I can't be that noticeable if we didn't see it in four years."

Then he got home. It was that noticeable.

This little scenario all went down early in the holidays, and got my wheels turning about details I was missing. The frosting on the sugar cookie came a few days before Christmas. As usual we were running late, and it was questionable if we were going to make the school bus. There were extra delays because there were presents to be carried to bus drivers and teachers, lunch ladies and janitors, strangers on the street...To put it bluntly we were rushed. I sent the younger of my twins, Makayla, to get a hairbrush when she became distracted for the tenth time in as many minutes. She gasped and stood staring at our plastic (read child friendly) Nativity set. The night before we'd had a family gathering and while making room for a plate someone had slid the figures to the side. She was horrified.

"Mommy who did this!"

Even though they had arranged the figures in rows and circles all season she asked me as she carefully sorted sheep from wise men.

"How should it be be? How would you like it Mommy?"

My response was already on my lips, I was ready to tell her that it didn't matter and we didn't have time for it. Luckily my brain kicked in. Was I really about to tell my daughter that the Saviour's birth didn't matter and we didn't have time to be respectful of it? Could something so small shape my relationship with her in the future and when she asks for my opinion?

We took the two minutes or less to arrange the Nativity the way we thought best, and we still made the bus. I've decided though for the New Year I'm not going to let the big things take up so much of my thoughts and effort, work, money, school. Those are the things that I'm going to keep simple and easy. Instead I'm going to keep an eye on the details. After all, the devil is in the details.

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