Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday cheer is a lie. Toddlers are hard. Four year olds are bratty. Cold coffee sucks. Today needs a do over. - THE REST OF THE STORY

I posted a status update on Facebook today that got quite an empathetic response.  It's always nice to know I'm not alone.  I'm also a big proponent of keeping it real.  For all the cutesy, 'perfect' scenarios that fill the camera on my phone and tint my memories through rose colored glasses, a good dose of reality is an honest reminder of the madness that is motherhood.

I found myself at Target tonight in the checkout line at 9:36pm.  As I reached for my wallet in my purse I saw a Highlights magazine, a seek and find picture, a toy truck, a half empty water bottle, little boys underwear, a diaper, a plastic t-rex, and a yellow ball.  When I finally found my wallet I paid for, among other things, an opened package of strawberry fruit roll-ups.  I ate had shoved two of them in my mouth as I stood in the children's shoe section and relished in the fact that I was not refereeing bickering siblings or prying paws off me that wanted whatever I had.  I was alone, and minus the cheery damn holiday music playing in the background, it was quiet.

After my fruit roll-up bender I loaded up on supplies for projects/activities related to our Advent calendar.  I originally filled each day with a couple M&Ms for each kid.  Yes, even some for my almost 17 month old because to deal with the wrath of not giving her what her brothers have is just not in me if we are to last until Christmas morning.  On Dec. 2 Garrett helped himself to the day's treats before I was even downstairs for the day.  Gavin found out and begged for his portion before breakfast.  I said no.  Tantrums ensued.  Reasoning was a lost cause.  I warned that if all this mayhem continued the calendar would be put away.  Within seconds I marched upstairs with it.  I emptied the candies, returned downstairs with everything, and had Gavin pull out the trashcan as I threw all the chocolate morsels away.  Damn.  Now what?  I want this Advent calendar tradition to work!  I want it to be meaningful!  I want them to look forward to it each day, damn it! (Um, can we say Type A?  Control freak?)

That night I brainstormed activities we could do together each day of the month to highlight giving to others and spending time together.  This morning they pulled out a note that read 'Make a Christmas countdown chain.'  Their response: scowls.  grumbles.  "I don't want to do that!"  "I want a treat!"  Awesome.  Winning.  I gave it a few minutes, got myself and everyone else ready for the day, and started on breakfast and school snacks.  Somewhere in all of that all hell broke lose.  The whining resumed.  The bickering started.  And to add to the tension, nothing could make my fussy toddler happy.  I put the wrong water bottle in the wrong school bag.  I set the wrong colored cup on the wrong place mat.  I peeled one kid's orange when he wanted to do it himself and I didn't peel the other kid's orange when he wanted me to.  And then the musical Frosty starting singing and dancing and   I.   LOST.   IT.

I yelled.  I kicked.  Frosty died (don't worry, I fixed him later on).  I checked out.  The boys packed the rest of their own snacks and school bags, poured their own drinks for breakfast, and got their own silverware for their eggs that I barely threw onto their plates.  One son caught on quick, took care of business, ate, and even thanked me.  The other son continued to cry, had no idea what to do, and needed reminders to eat because I was not reheating his breakfast.  It was a glorious morning.  I felt worthless.  Mom guilt at its finest.  I wasted a teachable moment and all meaning behind the damn Advent calendar was lost.  

And then after pre-school drop off I went to my weekly bible study where the lesson was all about second chances.  You can't tell me there's no such thing as divine intervention.  So after school we talked and apologized and regrouped and got excited about the day's Advent calendar activity (although we switched it to making cards for someone serving our country and saved the countdown chains for Friday).  The rest of our day was relatively uneventful, even if dinner was a bust (doesn't everyone accidentally thaw a loaf of banana bread instead of a meatloaf?).  The lit Christmas tree provides much entertainment (ok, and a bit of stress every time Katharine goes within three feet of it) and magic and the boys somehow knew to smother me with kisses at bedtime, so there's hope...

But it all began with the chocolate.  And wanting more.  More.  More.  I won't start a tangent on how spoiled my kids are (they are) or the sense of entitlement kids have these days (Although I'm pretty sure it's developmentally appropriate for most 4 year olds to think the world revolves around them.  Considering I enjoy giving more than receiving, you can be sure we'll work on this for a lifetime.), but I fully understand why one mom and dad cancelled Christmas.   My kids have so much, yet they never seem to have enough.  It's sickening.  And with Christmas just weeks away the amount of STUFF they have is just going to grow.  And will it be the right STUFF?  Was it the red Transformer or the red and white Transformer?!?!  Is it the tie sneakers or the Spider Man shoes?!?!  It's not the cheer and magic and spirit of the season I want to take away, but the hustle and bustle of buying more and more STUFF needs to be reigned in.  Most importantly I just want to instill in my children a sense of gratitude for what they already have and appreciation for the generosity of others who lovingly give to them.  We are fortunate to have family that spoils us, and I'm just as guilty, but shame on me/us/you for letting the madness cloud each year's holiday cheer.

Ok, so pass the eggnog, please.  
Make it extra strong.  
And have a Merry Christmas! (insert plastered, fake smile here)
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