At no other time of the year are the expectations on parents higher then right now: The holiday season. Halloween? I can handle 1,200 kids knocking on my door (this actually was the number out and about in my town this year). Birthdays? Even when there seems to be a month of celebrations lined up, these milestones pale in comparison to the decking halls and shopping for an endless amount of people.
Not only are we parents managing our families and our busy schedules but also we’re managing our extended families, our friends, our very triggered selves. We’re hosting, we’re planning, we’re masterminding and executing celebrations and countless meals (at least what feels like it). So this year my message to myself is simply:
You’re not supermom, so stop trying to be her.
Supermom, by the way, is that mother that is consistently dressed in seasonally appropriate outfits (No.6 boots for the first snow with MOTHER jeans, an impeccably kept parka and a coif that’s immune to static cling), she smells like Le Labo and talks about how she’s entertaining 25 this year with a laugh. How’s she going to handle it?! Oh just with some recipes she found on Food52 that are super simple and can be prepped days in advance. And gifts? Oh those were purchased ages ago, when the perfect gift for that person crossed her mind, and are wrapped with dried and preserved garland and neatly packed away. She’s at the holiday concert, volunteering for the holiday bake sale and even offering to watch your kids so you can make an emergency run to the wine shop.
She’s not me. (Let’s be real: She’s probably downing her own stash of wine somewhere out of sight.) In the past I consistently met the holidays with a mix of disappointment and disillusionment—until I accepted this fact. My parka hasn’t been cleaned since last year and is in no shape for the first storm, my shopping list is far from complete and I’m picking up most of the holiday meals that I’m serving from the prepared foods section at Whole Foods (with Love Actually, fired up and ready to play!)
And I’m really happy about it. In fact I’m thrilled. Too soon mid January will be here and the long wait for spring will sink in.
The holidays never live up to their cinematic potential—or the nostalgia that accompanies them—and the second I stopped trying to construct that image, the more I found myself enjoying them. I actually think it’s the messiness of this time of year that makes it fun. The chaos, the terrible (and secretly delightful) music, the nagging sugar crash…it’s a wonderful metaphor for parenting in the first place. Let things get messy. That’s when the fun begins. Scoop up this season with two arms and whatever falls through, let it go.