A Survival Guide for the Holidays
First and foremost, I am only a little embarrassed to say that I checked with Aya's day care provider yesterday to see if she was working Easter Monday so Aya could go and I could have one day on the long weekend to sit on the couch for a half hour and watch a show that wasn't animated (and maybe do some laundry but, let's face it, that wasn't really on the short list). Actually, maybe I'm more embarrassed to admit that I'm not embarrassed at all by that. In any case, let's be clear: This survival guide is for me and anyone else who finds it useful so this post is a use at your own discretion kinda thing. But I write this post because maybe you, like me, are a dumbass, and forget every holiday how harrowing holidays can be for mamas. Therefore, I am going to write myself a little reminder with a few handy tips - well, maybe at least one tip - to try to mitigate the dumbassness in the future. Here goes.
The first thing to remember is not to expect to have fun. It's not so bleak, there will be moments of fun like when the Easter Bunny was too lazy to put out eggs the night before Easter and really didn't know she left them in any case, and so when her mom called and asked how Easter morning went, the fun ensued when the Easter Bunny tried to stay one step ahead of the two year old who fortunately had no idea what was going on. This was actually fun only because Aya was genuinely totally amazed that there were more chocolates every time she turned around, despite them having only been set down seconds before. Moms that had everything set out the night before, I see and applaud you, but I also think that your having it all together makes us mediocre moms have to work harder and so let me just say again, I see and mildly resent you, so feel free to let it slide a little. I'm pretty sure Santa doesn't usually come on Christmas morning, but he might at our house, so either you other with it moms are going to have ease up a bit or I'm going to have to get my shit together. I think we all know which one I would prefer. Also, I don't think I can handle that elf in my house because it seems like a terrible amount of work that is really a ruse to pit mothers against each other in some kid of Hunger Games-esque version of who is the more creative mother for thinking up some other stupid activity for Tinsel or Sandra or Buck, or whatever her/his/its name is,, to do to show Carol up from down the block. This I only say as an onlooker and as someone who is genuinely impressed by the parental fortitude that goes into moving that little urchin every damn day until you have to remember that Santa was supposed to have come last night and you scramble out of bed and eat some cookies and carrots and chug some milk. Anyhoo, all I'm saying is that this kid thing is a lot of work without making it harder and especially, without trying to one up people with your creativity. Leave that to artists - it's all that they have.
Anyhoo - back to fun. Holidays are not fun with infants and toddlers but I seem to always forget this. Holidays are like marathons where you sleep little, eat lots, chase your kid, and negotiate questions from and encounters with a variety of people you only see occasionally which can be tricky when you are a recovering postpartum mom. Honestly, I have to hand it to my family for leaving me be and just assuming that I will probably lose it if anyone says anything negative to me or about my child cause, let's face it, I would. Holidays remind me that I have postpartum, and hey, also that I have a child, and that neither of these things are easy.
A friend asked me recently, "So you still have it?" ("it" being postpartum depression) in a conspiratorial tone like we were discussing a sexually transmitted infection (granted we were in a small town sports bar that smelled like farts at the time). I bring this up not because it was a negative, but because this particular friend has this particular way of asking me questions that I evade answering myself, and then she unfailingly accepts the answer in the most non-judgmentally loving possible. I know this because while I answer and judge myself as I do, she listens intently and patiently and then tells me how amazing I am for simply being me. Obviously, she's a keeper. In any case, she asked me this and I had to say, not only do I still have "it," but that I think I always will to some extent, because it is connected to my having a child and now I will always have a child and so while she is still a child, I believe I am susceptible. Someone, who suffers from depression, recently said to me, I can't afford to be depressed and I didn't know if she meant psychologically or physically or financially (probably all of the above) and I kind of loved the wherewithal with which she said it, like, "ain't nobody got time for that" and I guess that's becoming my motto. Not like, I'm ignoring it so it will go away, but like, this shit is real and with me for the long haul and I better make friends with it or it will eat me alive kind of thing.
So holidays kinda suck. But guess what, they probably won't forever, and like I like to say to other moms drowning in the toddler tsunami, we'll get through this. I've been thinking a lot about something awesome a former colleague said to me about her son: She said she only really liked him when he started to get older. She loved him, sure, but actually, really liked him and the experience of being his mother as he grew up. I like and love the shit out of Aya but I think I'm still warming up to liking the idea of being someone's mother which at this point is like being someone's slave girl a la Princess Leia and Jabba the Hutt. Aya's a whole lot sweeter than Jabba but perhaps no less demanding.
Also, we have a holiday break from now until Christmas so I'm going to work on my holiday strategies which maybe include: Showing up drunk, pawning my child off on a baby loving relative, or staying home.
I'll keep you posted.