Monthly Archives: December 2015

‘Tis The Season?

The other morning at breakfast, when I was hawkishly watching the clock, making lunches, “encouraging” the kids to hurry up, and trying to take even one sip of the coffee I poured, my six-year old son decided to initiate the talk.

“You know, Mom, I’m not sure Santa is real.”

“Hmmm,” I said, eyeing my three-year old daughter. She was not paying attention, instead making a mush out of the eggs, waffles, cereal, and banana she insists on every morning. We really don’t have time for this, I thought.

“Why do you think that?” I said instead.

“Well,” Oliver said, “I just find it interesting that there is no evidence of Santa. Like, no one ever has ever seen him, or caught him. I just find that hard to believe, that no one has ever seen him come down the chimney.”

“Maybe it’s the magic? I mean, maybe he’s just that good at it.” I offered.

“Yeah, Mom, I know magic isn’t real. Come on. But it is Santa. So maybe only he has the magic.”

Nice save. I agreed and then told him for the 1,853rd time that morning to hurry up.

Logically, it doesn’t surprise me that a six-year old might start to question Santa. Emotionally, I am shocked. How is he already six? How much more time do I have? It really had not occurred to me that our Santa days might be numbered.

We have an Elf. His name is Winston (after Ghostbusters) and I resent him. Last year I didn’t even pull him out of the box, but my son came home one day puzzled as to why his elf wasn’t here yet. So the elf has returned. I am frankly proud that we remember to move him at all. But O, my eternally enthusiastic first-born, wants more. He asked me the other day when his elf was going to cause mischief and make messes and you know, “do stuff”.

I wanted to lie down on the floor and cry. I am not a Pinterest mom. I’m okay with that- it’s not my thing. Our tree went up the day after Thanksgiving, we listen to Christmas music every morning, and watch every Christmas show possible, and drink hot chocolate, and decorate Gingerbread houses, and on and on. I love Christmas. I’m into it. But the thought of having to be “creative” with some stuffed elf is too much for me.

After a few days of watching Elf-related creative nonsense on my Facebook page and Instagram feed,  I finally lost my urge to write “Barf” or “Get a life” in the comment section. I decided it couldn’t be too hard to make a little mess, so I copied some ideas.

I had “Winston” pull down my son’s Halloween candy (yes, OMG, we still have his Halloween candy, I keep forgetting to throw it away). I made it look like he had spilled it everywhere and put open wrappers everywhere, and in his hands a lollipop. I have to admit, the look on Winston’s face is kinda hilarious. I made sure to only open candy that my son doesn’t like.

The next morning, I was even a little excited to have him find his elf, and to finally witness some mischief. Oliver took one look at all of his candy and burst into tears. “I hate that elf, I can’t believe he took all my candy! I love candy! Whyyyyyyyy would he do that?”

Elf- 47. Mom- 0. I thought, you question the existence of Santa, but somehow you think this creepy stuffed doll is actually stealing your candy? But he does. He totally thinks this elf is real.

‘Tis the kind of season we are having.

I’m so tired these days, a deep and lingering tiredness I haven’t felt since newborn days. I’m not sure what is causing it- I’m not getting enough sleep, but enough that I shouldn’t be this heavy. That it coincides with the busiest time of the year isn’t lost on me. Daily I think of all of the wonderful holiday-themed things I want to be doing, and then I take a nap.

My plan this year (every year) was to be done shopping early December so that I could focus on the “fun” stuff- decorating cookies, wrapping presents, seeing holiday plays, making gingerbread houses, and the list goes on. Like every year, that didn’t happen. I’ve been decidedly bummed about all of this. I’m telling myself to get over it. There is only so much we can do. But I still feel a little angry about it.

The weekend after Thanksgiving was unnaturally chilly and gray. We bundled up and headed out to pick out our first real tree. We wove between the majestic green giants, looking for a not-so-tall one. The smell of fir trees is intoxicating. That this kind of smell exists in our world is magic enough. We found one, pointed it out, and watched the salesman put a “sold” tag on it. Then we went to a noodle house for warm Ramen soup. Next we got hot chocolates and wandered around Toys R Us, letting the kids put things on their Christmas list. It was a perfect, unplanned, very Christmas-y kind of day. Since then, it’s climbed back into the 70’s. The days are warm and glorious, but not appropriate for picking out a tree. I keep thinking I’m so grateful I let my husband convince me to do it early, that we got that one perfect day. I always want to orchestrate the “perfect’ moments, but they usually come when you aren’t paying attention.

We have a big hole in our ceiling due to a leak. The job to fix it keeps getting more complicated. My husband is too busy at work right now, working late every night, and feeling sad about missing so much time with the kids. I have a list filled with things like make cookies and donate toys that is not getting done. I rushed around the mall yesterday and ended up with eight sets of Christmas pajamas for the kids, but none of the gifts I needed. There is always stuff going on with my family, with his family, stuff too complicated to get into. My writing is slipping, I yell too much, my house is a constant mess.

We have a real tree, though. And a real wreath on our front door. My husband and mother found this amazing Gingerbread candle that we light every day. The smell of Christmas is everywhere. The twinkle of our haphazardly decorated tree outshines the hole in the ceiling. Nights are chilly enough for hot chocolate and sometimes a fire. Every night we cuddle on the couch- Oliver in his plaid pajama pants and Ivy in her tacky red fake-velvet princess Christmas nightgown- and pick their Christmas book for the night from the book advent calendar I made (the one thing I did I’m proud of). It’s a mix of old and new books, and just for a moment, both of my kids are cuddled against me. Nobody is too old for anything and nobody is fighting. Everyone is simply still, listening and reading and taking it in. It’s my favorite time of the day.

‘Tis the kind of season we are having. Too busy, too tired, but sprinkled with some pretty wonderful moments.

And I’ve even embraced the elf, a bit. I might think it’s ridiculous, but it brings my kids joy. So be it. Last night I wrote in red lipstick on our bathroom mirror “Eat More Sugar” (totally stolen from my friend). The kids thought it was hilarious. Our morning was filled with giggles and dancing instead of the usual grumbling and yelling. I’ll take it.

Tis The Season. What kind of season are you having? What are the little things you are enjoying?

 

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Morning Thoughts

Tuesday. It is 6:15 am and I’m up early. I started getting up early to write when I joined one of Jena Schwartz’s magical 2 week writing groups. I still wake up at 5:30 every morning, pour a cup of coffee, and sit in front of the computer. I haven’t been able to write much though. But every day, I am here, hoping the practice is enough. That showing up is enough.

There is a storm brewing outside. I can hear the wind frothing itself up. It unnerves me. Sudden thunderstorms and rain and flooding are common here, and I still cannot get used to them. I love thunderstorms, but the flooding and the wind, and today, the possibility of a tornado, set me on edge. I want to keep the children home. I want to keep the world away, with its tornados and car accidents and trees falling on people and school shootings and people being blown up on a Paris street and on and on and on.

My daughter has started calling out for me once a night. Sometimes it’s for her pacifier that has fallen. Sometimes it’s because she needs to pee. Last night it was just that she wanted to see me. At a different point in my life, this would have annoyed me, exhausted me. But I welcome the call. She is growing faster than I anticipated, and I just want to see her too.

My son comes into our room in the middle of the night. It’s not good for him, for us, for so many reasons. I always boasted that our kids never slept in our bed, until of course, I was proven wrong. I am surprised by how little I mind. When I wake up and feel his little knees in my back, or the delicate heft of his arm around me, or see him curled up into his father, I feel at peace. He is here, where I can feel him. He is safe. He has not yet grown up and away from me.

Like the weather, like the headlines, what I worry about changes so quickly. Mothering changes so quickly.

Wednesday. 5:54 a.m. Again, up early, again a quiet house, again fighting for the words. Yesterday I got home from the grocery store at 10:30 a.m. and was sweating through the humidity. I went inside, took a shower, made lunch for my daughter and her friend, and went back outside again at 11:15. It had dropped at least twenty degrees, the wind had picked up, and it began to rain. The storm had arrived.

As usual, the anticipation was worse. It rained heavily, for sure, but no tornados, no flash flooding, nothing but a good drenching. Once I realized it wasn’t dangerous, I welcomed it. There is something about being in the middle of  a storm, only able to see a few feet ahead of you, that slows things down. I worried about the immediate- how to get the girls from the car to the door without getting them soaked. I reminded myself to buy an umbrella. I bought a tea to warm up. I planned the best way home. I listened to the girls’ chatter, to the hum of the radio. Everything felt like a comfort.

Later that night, my daughter asked to sleep in her big girl bed. She is almost 3.5, definitely ready, but she has resisted. I don’t push her- she always says she is not ready yet, and her crib is so cozy. I can’t argue with that. Last night I watched her dance around her new bed, piling it with all of her stuffed animal friends and at least six blankets. She looked up at me and said, I’m kind of a big girl now. I really loved being a baby, but I have to be a big girl now. Then she launched herself into my arms, and nestled her head into my shoulder. This girl is a champion hugger. I felt pulled into a million pieces, but just hugged her tighter.

After some shenanigans by her brother, and another cuddle and lay-down, she easily went to sleep. I waited for her to change her mind, to call for me, to want her crib back. I am still waiting.

Friday, 6:23 a.m. Head pounding. Can I possibly get a cold on top of a sinus infection?  Computer keeps glitching. There is a huge boat-shaped water stain on my living room ceiling. I keep watching it grow bigger, and waiting for the ceiling to fall. My dog keeps staring at me, wanting to go outside, wanting to come back in. Some days it’s hard to start out with ease.

Has it only been a week since the Paris attacks? Every time something like this happens, it feels like my view of the world is taken apart, and I have to find a way to put it back together again. I am looking through a kaleidoscope at a blue world, and now it is purple. Now it is green. No, now it’s green, blue, purple, red, all jumbled together.

The day after the attacks, all I could hear running through my head was a quote from Frederick Buechner- “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things happen here. Don’t be afraid”. My first response was of anger, even rage, and hatred. My first response was to shut down, close walls. But when I posted those words on Instagram, I thought, no. Paris is Paris is Paris and will always be bigger than this. Paris is hundred of years of history and magic and stories and memories that can never be dismantled. And instead of looking toward the terrible, dwelling on the fear, I insist on looking for the beautiful. Even when it’s hard.*

*I wrote this a few weeks ago, and was planning on editing it. But reading it back, I think it’s better as-is, messy and with no ending. It captures what I was feeling then, and I can’t edit that. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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