Happy 2018, blog world! That happened pretty fast. And considering what the last weeks of 2017 were like for me… well, I can only really say, “Hallelujah.”
After a bit of a hiatus, thanks to a healthy dose of writer’s block and my own personal holiday overwhelm, I’m back to chronicle what I can now only describe as my “Christmas Comedy of Errors.” They say a Comedy of Errors is when so many mistakes happen or things go wrong that it becomes funny. That is exactly what the last couple of weeks have felt like for me, so much so that “Are you kidding me?!” became my holiday mantra.
For starters, the holiday season is tough enough for toddler parents — with Toys-R-Us and American Girl Doll flyers rushing in with the vigor of a Polar Express Train and children who believe that everything they circle on the pages will magically appear Christmas morning… meanwhile waddlers are breaking every ceramic knickknack mistakenly placed within a two-footer’s arm-reach, leaving the bottom third of your tree embarrassingly naked and holiday decoration stock half depleted.
Then on top of that, all the extra commitments and unrealistic expectations of the season are right there nipping at your heels and turning the stress up full blast. Ironically I wrote a piece on holiday stress on my mental health blog before the crazy really started, but I think I neglected to speak on just how hard it can be to climb your way out from under the mountain of disappointment when you don’t live up to all the hype. Then, when you add everything under the sun that can seemingly go wrong to the juggling act, well no wonder a mom turns Grinch-y this time of year.
I wish I could say that Christmas 2017 was filled with comfort and joy, that 10 days off from work were dreamily spent with family and friends sharing nostalgic traditions and building warm memories by the holiday hearth. But that’s just not how things went down this time. No, Christmas for us this year was more like a long annoying Chevy Chase film where one pitiful hit after another kept coming, almost to a point that we began to lose count.
The season started out well and good enough, with Amazon packages rolling in on time and our gift lists whittling themselves steadily down. But things I believe took a turn for the worst somewhere mid-month when my husband and I missed my daughter’s daycare holiday performance — the one she had spent weeks practicing by herself, saying she couldn’t show us because she wanted it to be a surprise. Despite all our best efforts, our 4:32pm arrival delivered us exactly two minutes too late to see her class’s special reindeer debut. And while we do now have a video to memorialize the cute production thanks to another responsible parent who showed up on time, the footage of our daughter anxiously scanning the crowd for our faces brings too many tears to our eyes to ever watch again.
Next, on to Christmas Eve, where the best laid holiday vacation plans went awry with two grandparents falling ill to the stomach bug — and one family member a day succumbing thereafter to some form of illness through the week. While I somehow managed to escape the viral clutches of all the swirling pathogens, still every belch and gurgle I felt naturally left me convinced I was inevitably next, making it impossible to enjoy one savory sip or morsel of food without flash-forwarding to what could be my later digestive demise.
Needless to say, when the halls are decked with more bacteria than holly bells, the holiday stress is almost more than a mom can bear. And while grandparents are ordinarily happy to help sweep up careening toddlers and holiday messes, they were understandably stripped of their own usual good tidings this year, leaving my husband and I to corral our two small energy-sucking humans all alone on the holiday prairie. The week was utterly exhausting, and lonely, and by the middle of it I found myself feeling ready to just go back to work already, as that felt more like the vacation at that point.
But there was still New Year’s Eve and a glimmer of hope for a concert date with my husband when said grandparents recovered and graciously agreed to keep our kids as we squandered just a little time (finally) to ourselves. But then, in true National Lampoon fashion, a winter ice storm (that somehow no one saw coming) set in over our town, blanketing roads and surfaces in a slippery glaze that ultimately cancelled our show and had us home in bed watching Netflix by 10:00 instead.
Here I’ll just pause and say for the record, too, that I haven’t even mentioned yet how by this point every holiday gift I had bought for my husband was a bust, how my five-year old wouldn’t go to the bathroom alone thanks to Jim Carey The Grinch, or how poor planning resulted in 700 tiny new lego pieces snaking their way down our mythical chimney, now lying in wait for my 16 month-old’s windpipe.
Ohhh M…G… the anxiety.
If you can’t tell, Christmas this year for me felt like anything but a holiday, with every gaffe only amplifying the stress and undressing my good will tree. This too then became somewhat a despondent feeling as the hard reality of being parents with young children set in, all the while still knowing I should be savoring every moment, looking for the joy, and cherishing these special times with my kids while they are still young.
So where to go from here?
Well writing this piece has in itself been somewhat therapeutic as I reflect on the collective experience, and I have to admit it does make me laugh now (just a little). Turning over my thoughts and sounding them off with my husband too has helped me reframe my outlook, as I realize what a gift it was to have the extended time with him and my children that I did, even if it was chasing them around with a broomstick or a garbage bag most of the time. And finally, as I close out the first week of the New Year, I’m beginning to feel that proverbial new leaf naturally turning over inside me as well, so I know these farcical memories will fade and make room for healthier new growth soon.
While I wouldn’t exactly stand in line to buy a ticket and popcorn to watch over again the comically inauspicious series of events that were these last weeks of 2017, I am beginning to see a silver lining and believe that 2018 could just be a new year with a little happiness to be claimed after all.