My friend Robyn Welling is back to explain each Dooms Day scenario that goes through her head every year in the days leading up to Christmas. Living up to THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR is a lot of pressure, you know?
If I could describe what it’s like to be a mother during the holidays in one word, that word would be magical. Of course, it’s also exhausting. Magically exhausting. Oh, and HECTIC – OMG, so hectic. Not to mention fraught with guilt over spending too much money and not spending enough money and eating your own weight in sugar cookie dough.
So… let me start over.
If I could describe what it’s like to be a mother during the holidays in one word, that word would be stressful.
I’d say 99.9% of that stress comes from wanting everything to go smoothly. Okay, perfectly. Even the most laid-back Mom wants her kids’ Christmas memories to be comprised of sugar plums and coordinated PJs. Every year, Mom has to hocus-pocus Santa into existence, remember to clean up after the Elf on the Shelf’s antics, handles the RSVPs, the gift exchanges, the details, the PRESSURE.
Basically, moms’ holiday stress boils down to a subconscious fear that she’ll forget to send a Starbucks gift card to the teacher or skip some all-important holiday tradition and (naturally) Christmas will be ruined. Overstatement? Not if you’re inside the mind of a worrying, overextended, multitasking mom. For example, what would happen if Mom messed up:
1. The Holiday Card
The Fear: Not finding a fabulous enough family photo, missing the online discount, colors in the card clashing with the colors your family wore in the just-barely-good-enough family photo, inadvertently leaving Great Aunt Edna off the mailing list, running out of holiday stamps, having to use some random commemorative Elvis stamp, the “newsy” holiday letter sounding more like a b*tchy humblebrag, etc.
The Reality: No one will notice if you mess up one or all of these steps— or even if you skip the entire card itself, frankly. You’re good.
2. The School Pageant
The Fear: Not getting the costume made in time, not arriving 30 minutes early despite repeated reminders/threats from the music teacher, your child peeing/crying/picking his nose in front of everyone, being unable to help/console/stop him, your younger child asking for fruit snacks repeatedly in the background the whole time you’re taking the video, someone falling off the stage because HEY SERIOUSLY DOES ANYONE ELSE SEE HOW CLOSE THAT KID IS TO THE EDGE???
The Reality: No child in history has even remembered their second-grade choir performance, let alone asked to see the footage of it. Did you show up? Yes? You’re good.
3. The Travel
The Fear: Running out of snacks, car seat potty accidents, forgotten lovies, missed flights, just generally being in confined spaces with cranky children, crying (yours and theirs), the prospect of sleeping with your entire family on your mother-in-law’s pullout couch, all the gifts getting lost/left at home/rerouted by the airline to someplace in the Arctic, etc.
The Reality: Did you get there? You’re good.
4. The Tree
The Fear: Not being able to get it to stand straight, it being too tall and bending at the ceiling, it being too sparse and looking like Charlie Brown’s Christmas, your toddler finding the box of really special ornaments and shattering all of them, your dog dragging tinsel all over the house, the lights not working, the kids fighting over who puts the star on top, your baby eating a glass gingerbread, your cat toppling the tree Christmas morning, etc.
The Reality: Are there presents under it? You’re good.
5. Christmas Dinner
The Fear: Forgetting to make someone’s favorite holiday dish, running out of milk, half the meal turning ice cold while the other half is still cooking, not serving ALL THE KINDS OF PIE, being unable to squeeze 30 people up to an 8-person table, burning the rolls, overcooking the rice, undercooking the pork, burning the kitchen down, etc.
The Reality: Is there food? You’re good.
6. The Cookies
The Fear: Not making enough for the bake sale and the cookie exchange and neighbors’ gift baskets and the kids’ class parties, kids getting sick from eating six tubes of raw cookie dough, kids decorating the snowman cookies with the green Christmas-tree cookie icing, gaining 40 pounds from eating all the broken cookies not good enough for public consumption, spending all the time to bake the cookies and then showing up without them by accident, etc.
The Reality: They’re cookies. You’re good.
7. The Wrapping
The Fear: Mixing up the gift tags, all the bows getting flattened, running out of tape and resorting to stickers, running out of wrapping paper and resorting to pillowcases, Christmas morning being over in three minutes because everything’s just stuffed into gift bags, forgetting to wrap Santa’s presents in different paper than Mom and Dad used, leaving all the wrapping to the last night and then falling asleep in the middle, getting caught while wrapping, etc.
The Reality: There’s absolutely zero chance your child will care what the wrapping looks like. You’re good.
8. The Gifts
The Fear: The one thing your kid really wants being sold out, finding the one thing your kid really wants but forgetting where you hid it, the gift exchange looking completely unfair because your youngest child has 347 gifts that cost $2 each while your older child has 2 gifts that cost $347 each, being completely broke by January, etc.
The Reality: Yeah, sorry Mom – you kinda have to get this one right. NO PRESSURE.