I am not one of those moms who does a lot of fancy stuff for the holidays. It just seems like a lot of unnecessary work. At Christmas, I’m lucky to get a tree up. Every year at Easter my mother-in-law takes pity on the kids and dyes eggs with them. On Valentines Day she makes heart-shaped waffles with them. She always buys them cute seasonal shirts. I’m beginning to see a theme . . .
But I am the mom who then forgets about the cute seasonal shirt until aprox. three days after the actual holiday, and then wonder if it would be weird to dress up my daughter in a brand-new t-shirt with a darling Happy Halloween logo on November 3rd.I have to admit, I am really ambivalent about this parenting choice. Most of the time, I feel like I am trying to keep things simple, and all of the holiday clothing and decorations and teddy-bears and toys amounts to more “stuff” for me to store and ultimately forget to bring out at the right time. When I pass by all the seasonal stuff in those dollar bins at Target, I’m certainly tempted to buy the antler headband, the bunny ears, or the green leprechaun hat. But then the holiday passes and those things end up in the under the sofa or at the bottom of the toy bin until I finally find them and throw them away.
It doesn’t help that a certain family member (my sister-in-law) is the queen of making holidays special. She is the mom who will have the kids in matching orange shirts at the local pumpkin patch on the first day of fall. She is the one who will have the kids in head-to-toe red white and blue on Fourth of July, or in matching Angels shirts and hats at the ballgame. I love this about Sarah, and I also love that my kids get to benefit from her creativity and thoughtfulness. Most of the time, I feel comfortable in allowing that every mom has their strengths, and that it’s okay for me to slack in this area. I have other special skills!
Like reading sheet music, playing piano, British/Cockney dialects and tumbling.(Okay, those are the special skills from my acting resume ten years ago. But my flips on the trampoline are impressive).
Anyways, I do still suffer from that horrible female condition of comparing myself to other moms. This morning, I woke up and remembered it was St. Patrick’s day, and frantically searched for green shirts for the preschool set. Having not remembered the day in advance, I did my best. Jafta’s was more of an army green, Kembe’s was teetering dangerously close to yellow. I sent them off, and then sat down to catch up on some blog reading. The first post was from a mom who served her kids Lucky Charms for breakfast, along with green milk. Then there was the mom who pack her kids’ lunches with all green items. Then of course, the mom who handmade adorable green dresses for her girls. I feel my shame rising. I start the self-talk:It’s okay, Kristen. That’s not you. That kind of behavior only gets you into trouble. Keep things simple. Those are just distractions.Then I pick the kids up from school, and notice the plethora of girls wearing matching green bows and socks. It was India’s turn to bring snack today, which I actually remembered, but apparently the generic snack I brought was saved in the pantry because another mom thought to bring green cupcakes for the kids. As soon as we got in the car, my kids were going on and on about St. Patrick’s day.
Mom, good thing we’re all wearing green!
Mom, can we go looking for rainbows?
Mom, we could go find some gold. And eat some chocolate gold coins!
Mom, let’s have a leprechaun hunt in the backyard! (Wuh?)
Mom, are we having a special St. Patrick’s treat? It’s a holiday!!
Argh. Of course I have nothing planned, and I’m suddenly feeling like my “keep it simple” mantra might be laziness and indifference. Obviously my kids are excited about holiday celebrations. When we get home, I quarantine the kids to the backyard and start tearing the house apart for something I can throw together. I search for cookies: none. I search for frosting: none. Cream cheese? none. Finally, I find some random shelf-stable pudding cups in the back of the pantry. I have NO IDEA where these came from or how long they have been here. I empty them into fancy parfait glasses and add a few drops of pastel green food coloring. Remember that scene from Better Off Dead when John Cusack’s mom serves a disgusting green slime that bubbles?
I am not kidding, that is EXACTLY what this stuff looked like. In parfait glasses. I called the children in and cheerfully announced that we had a St. Patrick’s day surprise. And they screamed and giggled and ATE IT UP. They were so excited and thought it was such a special treat.
I’m not really sure what the moral of the story is here. Do I need to try harder? Or is this just proof that kids will be excited even if we try less?
Or maybe I just need to stop trying to be someone I’m not