One of Those Moms
A month has passed. I apologize. I do have an excuse, you see, though, for I am one of Those Moms.
I love holidays. I also have an overachiever streak a mile wide, and combining those things is often a dangerous proposition. I do not have the highest self-esteem: I don’t think I’m particularly pretty, or smart. But, dammit, I can craft and gift the shit out of you.
This all started early, I believe. I don’t have the best memory, but there was a time in third grade when we made “stained glass” to take home for winter break: tissue paper glued between two pieces of black construction paper, with holes to make it look like lanterns. I remember this because I wanted this perfect: I wanted this to be the mother-f’in centerpiece of all the Christmas decorating in my parents’ house.
It was. Oh, it was. (It also helps that I’m an only child and so I had no competition for my skills)
The stakes are higher in this era on Pinterest. What was long a sort of isolated pursuit in crafting (as, unless you knitted, there was really no crafting group for you) is now a competition. And, let me tell you, I am ready for it.
Christmas is compounded by gift-giving – and, like Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” gift giving is a sport to me. I’m the person who starts shopping in February, starts planning before the tree is even thrown out from the previous year. I want to beat people over the head with my care, with my attention. LOVE ME DAMMIT.
It gets weirder when you have kids. Both of mine have birthdays right around Christmas, and so we have to conscientiously work to not combine the holiday and birthdays, to give them their own special times while not running ourselves ragged and to the poor house.
Are you following me here? This can’t end well.
Years ago, for a defunct site about life in your thirties, I wrote an article about being kind to mothers during the holiday season that caught me a lot of flack. I acknowledge that the bulk of the suffering I do this time of year is brought on entirely by yours truly, but, given that at least 60% of that self-made suffering is an effort to be kind to others, I always want to remind folks that, when your mother is frazzled and freaked out around the holidays, to give her some damned leeway. She’s trying to make this a FUCKING GREAT HOLIDAY WILL YOU LAY OFF AND HAND ME SOME WINE.
I still don’t know why people were bothered by my article. At least it was funny.
This year, I’ve not been as psychotic as years past. Perhaps I’m getting more sleep, or I simply know how to budget time and money better. I made my daughter a glorious Halloween costume without stabbing myself in the eye or working on it until it was time to leave for trick or treating (as happened one year: she was in the hospital until October 30th and I created their dual Jessie from Toy Story costumes on the hospital floor, and finished them just as it was time to head out for candy the next day). I made a fall wreath for our door, hats for my yard flamingos (yeah, really). I cooked three different dishes to take to my parents’ Thanksgiving feast.
Did I mention I did a lot of this while kicking the everlovingshit out of NaNoWriMo? Yeah, I wrote an 87k novel this last month, too.
Christmas is where I show my ninja skills, though. I’ve already, no joke, finished shopping for both of my kids, and most of the rest of the family, down to the stockings. I’m making a new wreath for the front door, and a fancy-ass Advent calendar since I can never find one I really like. I will wrap 95% of the presents – this job has been mine because, for a stint when I was 18, I worked as a giftwrapper – and make our house sparkle and shine. We host Christmas morning with my parents, and I already know what scones I’ll be baking.
In the middle of this, is also the birthday party (combined this year, thank God) for my kids, which is now a themed Doctor Who extravaganza. I already spent three days on the invitations, and planned the foods. It’s for my kids, I swear.
I say I hate all these things, but I lie. Oh, I lie.
I do say: I know a lot of this is showing off. I have so few skills at my disposal, so wowing the crap out of people at holidays is one of the few times I get to boast. But, at the heart of all of this: I like to make people smile, and I want them to be happy. If I go a little crazy doing it, so be it.