Every year I pin photos of beautiful, impeccably decorated gingerbread houses with intricate candy coated details and accouterments, or a creative twist like the pretzel rod log cabin. I research gingerbread house templates and brainstorm ideas for my own creative twists.
I talk about making gingerbread houses or gingerbread pirates with the kids before I’m ready to get started and then, just like they did this weekend, they ask me if it’s time to make them yet every 5 minutes for two days straight.
I was really excited about this endeavor, just like every year, but then I started to dragging my feet. You see, when I’m overwhelmed, I tend to shut down. If there are too many possibilities, or too much work that I don’t know where to start, I just freeze. Do you do that too? I wish I had some secret answer to share with you to help prevent that, but I don’t. It just takes self-awareness to realize it’s happening and willpower to force yourself to push through. Something I’m still working on.
So I pushed through. I finally did all of the steps to get the gingerbread houses ready to assemble and decorate. You can read my humorous attempt at how not to build a Gingerbread House, with a few real tips here.
By this time, it was after dinner which is normally bedtime routine time. I attempted to assemble the houses with icing before it got too late and I felt like I was just making an enormous mess.
My husband tried to help, but after his first house fell apart he gave up.
Somehow I managed to get two small houses together for each kid, put together my drawn from scratch without a template larger house that kept losing it’s roof, and posted a photo of my sad, falling apart house on Instagram. I felt defeated. Gingerbread house fail!
That’s when I got the first lesson. My friend commented, “But did you have fun making it with the boys? That’s all that matters.”
You know what? That’s so true.
My kids love my gingerbread house. They love the tree and little people I cut out with the leftover scraps. This morning, the house is still standing- even though it has gaps and slopped on icing. I might not be the best gingerbread house artist in the world, but to my kids I am.
The more I think about this gingerbread village we created together, the more lessons and metaphors about life I see.
I could have made this gingerbread activity go more smoothly if I prepared everything before I told the kids my idea, including assembling them and waiting until they dried before trying to decorate them.
If I wouldn’t have let myself get overwhelmed by all of the steps and just worked through them one by one I could have set us up for success instead of just winging it by the seat of my pants and being happy with my less than perfect house.
I could have done a better job. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it because I also learned that we can plan and pin all we want with the grandest of intentions.
Then life happens. The roof slides off over and over. So we slop on some icing and hope it doesn’t fall apart. Your real house, your life, might not be as impeccable as the one in your dreams, but it’s yours. It was built with love. In the end, that’s all that really matters.
So the lesson here is, if you didn’t prepare or set yourself or your kids up for success with something lately, don’t beat yourself up about it.
It’s ok. Life happens and life goes on.
Think about how you could have done things differently to improve the situation next time and try again. That’s all we can really do right?