Imagine one child melting down in the grocery store as you try and keep the other two near the cart. Taking three children to the grocery store once they are big enough to get out of the cart, but are not old enough to drive a car can be like herding cats. Now add to it that said children are surrounded by holiday lights, toys that are not normally in the bread aisle and festive candy EVERYWHERE. Now add a "NO" to the equation or a "Not right now" and here comes said meltdown. Been there?
What about decorating the tree or making Christmas cookies? Would your experience warrant a Norman Rockwell print? Is everyone smiling and laughing the whole time? Not us (and that's o.k.). My kids argue over who gets to put what ornament on the tree. If it weren't for the sweet memorable ornaments I would say, "To heck with it" and just buy a box of all the same ornament. When the children make Christmas cookies there are always more sprinkles than cookie. Someone always has the cutter they wanted. And the floor is coated with sprinkles. (PSA- do not use the tiny non-parels- you will be chasing them around the floor with the vacuum until St. Patrick's Day)
Maybe your house stays clean year round, but for me, the second the kids get home from school, whatever clean space there was, is gone. Add in that they touch the lighted pine garland every time they pass it, sprinkling 1000's of needles EVERYWHERE. Not sure why I put nuts in little bowls around the house; probably because my mom did, but when you start finding cashews on the bathroom floor and peanuts in the hallway, it becomes too much.
You may be feeling like a failure right now. You are trying to hone your June Cleaver gene but it just isn't working. That is o.k.! I don't wanna wear a dress and pearls everyday, anyway. I have pulled myself up by the yoga pants and realized that PERFECT HOLIDAYS WITH CHILDREN- are truly a different kind of perfect. They don't have to be Martha Stewart perfect. Your holiday table may be covered with sippy cups and BPA free plastic plates so your kids do not throw the good china. Embrace it! In a number of years, your kiddos may not be sitting at your holiday table- they may have other plans.
Do you have a little one that screams the second they are within a foot of Santa? Who cares if they are smiling for the picture. THIS is the memory. THIS is exactly who they are at this age and stage- capture it. The boo-boo face Santa pictures are actually some of my favorites because they are REAL . This year when I was taking pics for our Christmas card my oldest stood about a foot away from his siblings (who were actually hugging each other). He is in middle school and really wants very little to do with them. When my husband asked why I did not ask him to stand closer, I explained that THAT was the "closer picture", but that I did not make him, because the picture that I have on my card IS the memory. That is exactly how they are, right now.
If you feel like you are having to say things to your children 50 times. If you see your house crumbling under pine needles, cookie sprinkles and cashews. If you feel your patience running thin and see your children melting down, fear not, Mama- for you are not alone! My kids are getting older-- they still get the Christmas crazies. Ask any teacher-- the real learning has already ended until after the holidays because the kids are full of "holiday spirit".
This is just part of being "the mom"-- no matter how your kiddos come to you. I wish more moms would post crying pictures with Santa. I wish we moms could giggle about some of what we let become so stressful and let some of all of this, GO!
Let the house go.
Make a mess with Christmas sprinkles.
Let the kids wrap gifts imperfectly.
Put on your p.j.'s at 4pm- order dinner out and watch a Christmas special so everyone can calm down.
Eat on paper Santa plates so you don't have to wash dishes.
Buy one less toy for your child (that has 40 toys on the floor) and a few more for a child in need.
Say "NO" sometimes when you are invited to add another meal or event to your calender (graciously, like your mama taught you, of course)
Embrace who your children are RIGHT NOW- because it will change.
THIS is "the perfect". Don't let it all wear you out. Breathe. I have lived this too --and still struggle with it, but once I let go of some of this and stopped trying to make everything perfect for us--we were all a lil less stressed. PERFECT WITH KIDS- is a different kind of perfect. You've got this, mama! And if you see a friend today, tinsel hanging from her brow, flour on her shirt and kids screaming on the floor--tell what a great and beautiful mommy she is. Let her know your kids do it sometimes too and let out a little giggle, because sometimes that's all we can do!