Yesterday, we had a mini egg coloring party when a friend and her daughter came over for a playdate. The girls had a blast and especially loved mixing the colors to see what new colors they could make. My friend and I had a good time too helping them. I remembered at the last minute that we had taken no photos, so I grabbed my friend's camera and snapped a few.
I love traditions and I try to make sure that there are traditions that I practice each year with the girls so that they have some associations with the holidays. I can remember that we always colored eggs with my mom every year. It was something we looked forward to and my mom would boil up a whole bunch of eggs in a very large pot. When you have six kids, you need to make a lot of eggs so everyone has some to color!
I have a hard time not turning these traditions into obligations though. I lamented for the rest of the day that I didn't take any photos with my camera even though I know my friend is always good about sending me photos of the girls together. And I wished that I'd boiled more eggs because the girls hadn't wanted to stop coloring. Why couldn't I just enjoy the sweet memory of hearing EC's triumphant voice yelling, "Purple!" when she dipped her pink egg into the blue dye?
I worry sometimes that I'm missing opportunities - was taking them to the Irish bakery for shamrock cookies enough of a celebration on St. Patrick's Day or should I have spent a week doing shamrock crafts and learning about the land of leprechauns?
Holidays, well the lesser ones anyway, have a way of sneaking up on me. As a stay at home mom, I'm lucky if I remember what day of the week it is. Time travels in a different way when you have a schedule that usually only has one or two regularly scheduled items per week. So, when its suddenly Martin Luther King Day and I've planned nothing, I shouldn't really be surprised, but somehow, I always feel a little inadequate.
I know that they don't need some sort of ritual for every little holiday from Arbor Day to Columbus Day, but how much is enough? For Easter, we color eggs every year and this year we made an Easter tree with Shrinky Dink decorations. The girls will put out there baskets on Easter Eve (is there such a thing?) and the Easter Bunny will fill them up with more toys then candy. And we'll spend the afternoon at a friend's house for an egg hunt. These will all make great memories for us and for the girls. So, I wonder why do I feel guilty for the things that I'm not doing?
Maybe this is all just a reflection on my job in general. I've gotten pretty good at keeping the girls entertained throughout the day. Trips to the park, music class, play gym and the occasional playdate are always happening. We also spend a lot of rainy or cold days visiting the toy department at Target or playing on the kids furniture at IKEA. Hey, both are free and the kids love it! But I can't seem to shake the feeling that they should somehow have something to show for the day. If they haven't produced a misshapen piece of clay or unrecognizable painting, was the day in vain?
In times like this, I fall back on the wisdom in the parenting books that I used to have time to read (when I had only one toddler to chase). They all said that teaching opportunities are everywhere. Counting the steps as you leave the house or pointing out colors in the grocery store are fine learning opportunities. And so, I try to turn the everyday into something worthwhile. Playing out back becomes a science experiment when we roll things down the bulkhead to see which rolls faster or not at all. Walking around the produce section of the grocery store is a good time to name all the vegetables for LR. And I try to focus on the big picture - that my kids are smart, well-developed and happy. They are learning things that I don't even realize I'm teaching. And I try to let some of the guilt go, but I have a feeling that this is a feeling that I'm stuck with. I'm pretty sure that the guilt is going to last even when I see them taking care of their own children and I celebrate these same traditions with the next generation.