As a mother, I am constantly reminding myself not to wish away time. It’s a very easy thing to do.
This time of year, with all of its holidays, parties and obligations, I often find myself trying to “make it through the week” or wishing the calendar would magically fast-forward through the busy end-of-the-year months. The calendar fills up and the to-do list seems never-ending.
If your mommy guilt regularly crops up during a normal week, your feelings of parental inadequacy can only be amplified when trying to create the “perfect Halloween” or the “magical Christmas” you hope your children will always remember. I have usually ended up looking at these things as events to endure instead of times to savor and enjoy.
I’m finally learning that way of thinking will leave me with nothing but regret. Does it really matter if my son has the most awesome Halloween costume? No, especially if finding said costume makes me spend untold hours shopping in stores and online, costing me way more money than any one piece of child clothing should.
Will my daughter really care if I don’t make individual Christmas goody bags for all 22 kids in her class? Surely not, since she’s never shown any interest in helping pick out the goodies or make the bags. When all the holiday preparations leave you tired and crabby, staying up to complete them long after your children have gone to bed, you can’t help but wonder, “Who exactly am I doing this for?”
I asked my kids in early September what they wanted to be for Halloween, and I went to one store to purchase their inexpensive requests. I didn’t give it another thought, and this was easily the happiest, least stressful Halloween I have ever had as a mother.
While shopping the other day, I noticed several items in the dollar section of a store that I knew would be perfect for holiday gift bags for classmates. I started to fill up my basket, but then I stopped. Did my kids really want this? And did other kids’ parents really want/need more junk in their house? I left the stuff behind. And I may have even smiled with some relief.
I’m letting go of feeling everything has to be “just right.” I’m choosing to spend the craziest time of year in the simplest of ways: curling up on the couch with my son and watching the kid version of a scary movie, with plenty of hugs and squeals. Thanksgiving’s focus will be on time catching up with loved ones I haven’t seen in a while instead of slaving over the perfect side dish to bring to the table. And all I want for Christmas is to relax and enjoy the season with my still-young children, delighting in the simple pleasures of hot chocolate and dancing to Christmas music.
They are growing up so fast. And too soon, I won’t have the option to see this special time through their innocent eyes. Instead of wishing the days away, I’m planning on cherishing every moment.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.