Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The things I want aren't things.

It's November, which in our family means Christmas Wish List Time.  I've often struggled with asking for things for myself, but could usually cobble together a few books, movies, needed clothing, and other personal luxuries that I wanted. This year, I'm having a very hard time with the exercise. There are very few things that I want, or even need. I'm pretty comfortable, from a material goods standpoint. What I want, what I need, is time. 
This is pretty common among my friends who are stay at home parents - our kids are our job, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Even with helpful and supportive spouses and family, we feel responsible for the health and happiness of our kids every waking minute. There's also considerable self-pressure to maintain a (reasonably) smooth-running household. Notice I said self-pressure. It is nearly wholly internalized, and it's far too easy to martyr ourselves to these perfectionist ideals. 
So for my Christmas gifts this year, I am asking my loved ones for the following:

1. A weekly block of time for just me - no errands, no commitments - to go for a quiet coffee or to the library or just for a drive in the sunshine. I want this time to be as strictly honoured as any other appointment on our family's schedule. 

2. A monthly date night for my wife and I, because with our schedules we don't see each other - just us - anywhere near enough.

3. Whole family time, at least once a month, where we can gather for a meal and actually take the time to listen to each other when we ask "how's it going?"

4. Surprise visits from friends. We are pretty much homebodies, especially on weekends. Come see us, or invite us to visit you, with or without kids. It doesn't have to be planned in advance, just call or text and let's hang out. 

See, none of these are things - but they can be. Gift cards for movies, restaurants, foofy coffee places - stick 'em in a card that says "tell us when you want to go, we'll babysit." (and mean it!)

Or, come over and commiserate while I try to organise my yarn stash for the umpteenth time. Troubleshoot / critique my website so I can get my Etsy business launched. Hire a maid service to deep-clean our bathrooms and scrub all the windows. 

I know, this probably sounds whiny and "first-world-problem", but honestly, it's how I feel.  There's no point buying me books I haven't time to read, or fancy bubble bath when a closed bathroom door provokes a tantrum.  The best gifts, for me, are gifts of self. 

And chocolates. :)

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