It’s December 22, and I am over it. All of it.
I know how I am supposed to be feeling: jingle bells, peace love joy, white lights and warm fuzzies. I’m supposed to be counting my blessings instead of sheep and humming tunes about roasted chestnuts and getting excited about my annual chance to play Santa. I’m supposed to be cuddling on the couch with my kids watching Christmas movies and eating candy canes and whatnot.
But I’m not.
It’s Sunday night, and my kids have been out of school since Thursday. I’m having a panic attack because it’s just about the end of the road for Amazon orders that can arrive before Christmas. A strand of lights already burned out on my tree, and I am negotiating with myself over whether or not to replace them. I’m sick to my stomach from Christmas treats. I’m haunted by the nagging feeling that I have forgotten something or someone, and I am 110 percent certain that I will not remember where all the gifts to wrap are hidden on Christmas Eve.
Most of all, though, I am over my children. They have run over my Christmas spirit like reindeer on a grandma. Between surly tweens and stubborn little people, I am all tapped out of ho-ho-hos.
“Do we have to listen to Christmas music, really?”
“Can we go home now? I don’t want to look at Christmas lights.”
“A cookie exchange?! Mom, I’m eleven. I don’t go to cookie exchanges.”
“Are you seriously going to make me wear a shirt with a collar on it?!”
“Disney? We have to go to Disney? AGAIN?”
Something about working 24/7 to engineer a magical holiday for them — complete with their dearest wishes and every holiday tradition I can pull off while also caring for four children’s various and sundry needs — makes their obvious lack of appropriate gratitude and cooperation glaringly more obnoxious than usual.
Here’s the truth: By Tuesday night, we’ll be on track. The Christmas Train will have left the station, and everyone will cooperate: my kids won’t call each other “losers” and fight over every ridiculous thing. They’ll wear what I ask them to for dinner. They’ll be so excited, I won’t be able to help being excited too. We’ll leave out cookies for Santa and carrots for reindeer, and they’ll go to bed on time and stay there. I’ll wrap presents with my husband while watching Love, Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life, and I’ll cry because love is actually all around (also, Colin Firth) and because George Bailey really is the richest man in town. I’ll go to bed exhausted and be awakened before dawn by giddy children, and I’ll watch them tear into brightly colored tissue paper and hug baby dolls and laptops, and it won’t matter at all if I replaced that strand of lights or not. My kids will be grateful and they will hug me and then I will collapse in front of the A Christmas Story marathon on TBS like I do every year and hope the kids don’t tear the house down while I am in my post-Christmas morning coma. It will be wonderful, messy, and perfect in its own way.
But tonight? Tonight, I mentally returned every present I bought my children. I threatened to call Santa and cancel Christmas. I used my foot to push the writhing, whining 6-year-old back into the bedroom he shares with his older brother and I closed the door, telling him I was done and he was to go to bed already. I ignored the tweens’ protests when I sent them to bed early, hoping they might sleep and be nicer tomorrow. Merry Effing Christmas, I thought. And then I cried thinking about how I will get through tomorrow. I really do love Christmas and I really do love my children, but sometimes I don’t know if I will survive until December 25th.
So just in case the holidays aren’t going so magically at your house tonight either, I want you to know you are not alone. And as always, now I feel guilty, and I am swearing I will do better tomorrow to try and keep my patience more — to, you know, enjoy the magic and the wonder of the season. Or something like that. In the meantime, I have a little laundry to attend to due to a week full of class holiday parties and last-minute shopping preoccupation.
Merry Effing Christmas, fellow moms. Hang in there.