Phew, we made it! I’m sure I was not the only mother sighing with relief as we dropped our children off at nursery or school and came home to an empty house, silence, peace and quiet this week. For me, I felt an inner sense of achievement that we had got through the other side in one piece and still smiling. I love Christmas and more so since having children but, as a mother, it is hard work and stressful keeping the unity and the emotions regulated is a mission in itself. This Christmas was particularly special for us in that it was the first year all four of our children not only understood the magical myth but believed too. Next year, I imagine my 9 (soon to be 10) year old will have fallen off the wagon, or sleigh and reverted to the other side! I could sense her doubt and understood her logical questioning this year. I had to admit that Santa actually does enter through doors as opposed to squeezing himself down endless chimneys and whilst he delivers all the toys, he does not actually make each and every one! I praised Sky News on Christmas Eve when we sat watching an interview with NASA providing support for Santa’s Mission. She watched in awe, mouth agape and I could read her little mind thinking “ah, Sky News is always right so surely Santa must be real if astronauts are helping him”. The footage made sense and not only was Santa on track but we were too!
Of course, the day will come when I won’t have to be searching around the attic at 2am to find presents stored out of sight, tiptoeing around the house with a torch so as not to disturb the children who swear they are “not” going to sleep, disposing of carrots and mince pies left out for Rudolf and the most stressful task of all, not letting them have sight of Santa’s wrapping paper in the lead up to Christmas! It is hard work and pre-motherhood, I had no idea how much work was involved but I already have pangs of sadness that another stage of life will take over and it will all become civilised once again.
Ultimately, it is all based on belief and that is what is magical. We introduce our children to the myths involved in Christmas and many people will say it is unfair to encourage a child’s imagination, only to let them down years later giving them their first opportunity not to trust us. Maybe this is true to a certain extent but surely, ignorance is bliss and those years believing, outweighs the disappointment felt on learning the facts. Throughout life we have to have belief in more than just Christmas. In order to learn optimism and faith in life we have to believe in positivity. We have to believe that people are good, life is worthwhile and that our individual journeys are an adventure to enjoy. As parents, we have to teach our children how to live positively and in the words of my son “Believe in Yourself”! This is a motto he has learnt through assemblies at school but it is probably the most important lesson in life he will learn. If children can believe in themselves, confidence will follow. We all know that each individual has strengths and weaknesses but it is having the confidence to make the most of strengths and find a way around weaknesses that matters. To think that we can encourage our children to follow their dreams and live a most fulfilling life, simply by asking them to believe in themselves seems magical in itself. Of course, we will let them down in life despite our best intentions not to and as with learning the truth of Santa, they too will learn one day that we are merely protecting and nurturing them. We are softening the blow for the hurdles they may have to be introduced to as the years pass. We have to let go at some stage but what we leave them with is the belief that they can achieve and isn’t that what life is about? Having the confidence to achieve.
Having children is magical and we have to make the most of the magic they bring back to our lives. As we become older, we naturally become more cynical. Maybe it is purely becoming realistic in our expectations of life and situations, knowing that roads are rocky and seas choppy. Children see the world differently. They see blue skies and peaceful waters. They enable us to relive what we may have forgotten from our childhoods and give us back the simple joys and pleasures of life we thought no longer existed. Whilst we may teach our children to believe, they in turn teach us humility. We become less selfish and more focused on their happiness. If magic returns to our lives in simply re-experiencing a myth at Christmas time, then belief is everything. These are incredibly important elements of establishing our own family identities that they, in years to come, will pass to our future generations. Nurture them.