As a parent, I learn over and over again to give up my expectations and mostly my expectations of myself or events and holidays. I am reminded frequently, that even with organization and planning and being prepared (and the kind of prepared that comes from being raised by an Eagle Scout and then marrying one), things still don’t go as expected.
On Christmas Eve morning, my husband took my son to the Farmer’s Market and playground, so I could have some “alone” time for writing and blog posting. “Alone” these days means me with a nursing baby who ideally will nurse to sleep and will stay asleep while I work on my laptop next to her on the bed. Except my baby has an intense Mommy radar and knows instantly if I have moved farther than 3 feet away or if I have turned my attention to something other than her. This can be frustrating at times when I want to get something done, but really, I don’t mind all that much. She loves me more than any other human being ever has. I’m sure of it. I can see it on her face when she sees me. It can be easy to just sit play, talk and look at her rather than do anything else. When my husband works from home, I’m constantly distracting him with the baby, because I can’t simply believe he just doesn’t want to look at her all the time.
Other people don’t get anything done with a baby in the house because they’re going without sleep. Sleep has never been an issue in our family (thank heavens). The four of us could medal in napping if the Olympics ever decided to officially make it a sport (which it is just in case you didn’t know). But we don’t get anything done in our house, because we’re playing and flirting with our children. (This is kind of why my blog posts are always late these days).
Back to the writing time I was supposed to get that I actually spent nursing and trying to put my baby to sleep while reading Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, my son and husband didn’t stay out that long. It was too cold for the playground. (In the beginning of Winter, 45 degrees is too cold for the playground; by the end of Winter, 25 degrees is acceptable playground weather.) My son has had a cough and cold the last couple of days. He’s been in that in between sick phase, where at home he thinks he feels better enough to go out and play, and then he gets out and realizes it’s better to just rest in the stroller.
I thought we’d spend Christmas Eve making more Christmas cookies. My husband and I have gotten addicted to having gingerbread cookies with our bedtime cup of tea, and we’ve already eaten the cookies we made. My son didn’t want to do anything baking related. He wanted to play planes. My daughter wanted to play with the wrapping paper left out. We let her do this because watching a 5 month old play with paper and ribbon is as hilarious as watching a kitten play with a paper bag. It’s endless fun honestly. But I suddenly remembered that I had to make my husband’s favorite Christmas treat: pumpkin roll cake with cream cheese frosting. I managed to make this cake, though now as I’m writing this I am remembering I still have to frost it and after the late night Christmas Eve wrapping that happened on the kitchen table, I realize now I don’t actually know where that cake is. Crap.
My son, thanks to not feeling well, ended up taking a three-hour nap. During his nap, I was able to finish wrapping his stocking gifts. I knew I had to, that even with not feeling well, his nap meant he’d be up until close to midnight. I was right about this. After dinner, instead of a bath, he played some more. We decided we could finally assemble the gingerbread house we had baked the weekend before. We made the royal icing to glue the house together. My husband and I had made up our own gingerbread house pattern. We had wanted to make a gingerbread Eames-like house. Once my husband figured out how to get the right consistency of icing and got our house iced together, our house looked more like a Flintstones house than an Eames house.
At 9:30 pm, my son showed no signs of slowing down. We decided to watch A Miracle on 34th Street. When my son finally did get tired, he refused to go to sleep until he had seen the end of the movie. My daughter had nursed herself to sleep in my arms. As predicted after naptime, my son was up until 11:30 pm. He finally fell asleep as my husband read him The Polar Express, while I filled his stocking downstairs. I was about to head to bed with the baby, when I remembered we still had our son’s Santa gift in the upstairs closet. Luckily for me, my husband took care of it.
As I fell asleep, I thought of the things I had hoped to get done. I’ve always hoped to be one of those people who has dozens of gingerbread, sugar and shortbread cookies laying around the house. Toffee seems easy enough to make, but I have yet to master it. The only way I can think of to save this year’s batch is to take a hammer to it and crunch it up to make ice cream with it. I’d like to have the house cleaned with all the laundry done before going to bed Christmas Eve, yet this year just getting the living room and kitchen cleaned up was enough.
I don’t feel like I’m one of those people who wants perfection. I feel more like the mom who’s barely keeping it together – with a son who at three has already pointed out that Santa coming into our house while we’re sleeping will probably wake the dog and is slightly invasive, not to mention that presents actually come from the post office. Oh yes, and my husband’s favorite pumpkin roll cake is still lost somewhere in my kitchen.
Recently, an older mother said to me, “You can have everything, dear, but you just can’t DO everything.” Wise words. I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday. The things that didn’t get done? Kind of defeats the point of the holiday to beat myself up over those.