Over the past week I’ve:
- missed Nathan’s choir concert because I didn’t ask for time off from work early enough
- yelled at Kaleb when I really should’ve just hugged him and apologized
- missed seeing Nathan pin his wrestling opponent because I was at my mom’s
- forgotten to excuse Jake’s tardy so he had to sit in detention instead of having fun at Flex
- forgotten to pay Nathan’s lunch money
- promised Nathan I’d buy the snacks for his Drama party—and then I forgot
- neglected Kaleb’s homework (we studied for his spelling test this morning while driving to school)
- waited too long to order the gift that Nathan wanted to give his Dad for Christmas, and now it’s too late to get it personalized and shipped
- left a messy kitchen when I went to work so the kids had to clean up my cookie mess for me
- failed to sort the socks.
OK, it’s true: I fail to sort the socks quite often, leaving my desperate children to fish out their own matching pair, or grab their brother’s socks and then argue about it with said brother when he spots his favorite socks on someone else’s feet.
But somehow it feels worse to drop so many balls during December.
The image of a perfect mother is much more sharp and clear in my mind in the 24 days before Christmas. You know, the mom who doesn’t keep promising her eight-year-old that we’ll finally put the tiny balls on the little tree tomorrow, and then tomorrow, and then tomorrow. The perfect mom in the corner of my eye is organized and efficient and all of her presents are already wrapped. Good hell—her presents are already purchased! Her sugar cookies are baked and her friends love their hand-made gifts; the holidays don’t seem to make it impossible for her to do her regular stuff as well.
None of her children are disappointed.
And while I know that perfect mother is only an illusion, I want to be her so badly. Mostly I want to be her because that is the kind of mom I want my kids to have, but partly for myself. Because if I were perfect I wouldn’t have to feel how it feels to fail your kid.
I’m not sure what it is (well, actually, I do: not enough running causes the black dog to start nipping at my psyche, and as there’s been no running except for that one glorious day before it snowed when I threw my ankle concerns to the wind and ran four miles, yeah: unleash the hounds of hell), but this December has been rough. I’ve had exactly zero motivation or excitement about Christmas decorating, organizing, making, giving, planning, or shopping.
So I already feel like I’ve failed.
And the thing is, I know. I know. In fact, I had a little meltdown in the middle of November in the grocery store, on an afternoon when they were sampling little raspberry tarts and baking cinnamon rolls, and the mingled smell was so evocative of Christmas to me that I had to put on my sunglasses because I was seriously crying in Costco. Not because I was excited for Christmas to come, but because I desperately wanted it not to come. Because if it comes? If December is really, really here, and then Christmas? Well then, it means that before I know it, one more Christmas will be over, and suddenly the Christmases I have left feel like beads slipping off a broken necklace. There are only, what, perhaps two more when I have a believer, if I’m lucky, and only three more before Jake goes to college, and five more before Nathan does; only nine more before Kaleb is off.
That’s not very many, and here I am wasting this one because I can’t seem to find any motivation or excitement.
Which makes me feel worse.
So when I do something dumb like forget to call the dermatologist to squeeze Kaleb in for the enormous plantar wart he’s suddenly developed, it’s not just beads slipping off a string or balls bouncing...it feels like dropping boulders.
Like I am always, always messing up.
I don’t have a conclusion. I don’t even know if I should post this. Is it whiny? Am I lame? Or just pathetic?
I don’t know.
But it feels like I should be able to figure this out. I should be able to balance my regular life with the demands of the holidays. It’s a thing people do all December all over the world.
I want to figure it out. But while I try, I keep fumbling. And all I can do, I guess, is try to pick up the things I dropped, and feel that awful “I dropped it again!?!” feeling, and ask my kid to forgive me.