One of the hardest parts of going into any holiday is the expectations we often place on ourselves to make it the best we can for the ones we love. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it really good for my kids that I end up not enjoying it or appreciating it at all. In the past, I ended up so overly stressed or worried about Christmas, so the easiest way to get through it was to drink. Every damn night of December, and all day long on Christmas Day.
Obviously, there is no drinking for me this year and I cannot avoid the stress and emotion that comes with Christmas. But it is a lot. There are a ton of expectations placed on parents with this holiday in particular. And moms who are expected to make all the magic happen are especially in a tough spot. I said last week to my therapist that I just wanted to fast forward and get through it all - hit the button on the remote and make it to January 1, because it was just too much for me. I felt overwhelmed by everything I needed to do, and my shopping and wrapping was already complete.
She urged me to stay present. Stay in the moment.
I never want my kids to be disappointed. I don't want them to be upset on Christmas morning, and I didn't want to forget to move the elf, even though I forgot it plenty when I was too drunk or hungover to move it in years past so there was no way I would forget this year sober.
But there was a lot of pressure that I put on myself this year, I realize. The minute Thanksgiving ended and I set up the Christmas tree, I wanted everything to be perfect, because for me, Christmas is still one of the best memories I have from childhood. And during my years of drinking and when my kids were little, I feel like I fucked things up. I know deep down my kids don't think I did, but I still believe I could have done better.
So, with all the expectations placed on moms at this time of year, I feel like newly sober moms carry even more on their shoulders. I have been scared and worried all week that this day would not be the perfect day I always envisioned, but I know now deep down it is all unrealistic to expect perfection out of any day.
On Christmas Eve, we created words of intention bracelets as a family. I bought a kit and decided we would do this every year as a tradition. I chose the word "observe" which is a reminder to myself to be more present and observant in the moment and less judgmental of the situation, people and surroundings. This is a good reminder for me today. As I try to force perfection on today, I must observe that we are actually doing pretty damn good.
It has been a long day and it feels like it could be midnight, but it is only 2pm. I cooked and cleaned up the kitchen several times, and then cleaned all the wrapping paper while Evan napped on the couch. Then he woke up and drank OJ straight from the carton and that pissed me off. Parker had a tantrum because she messed up her slime kit, and I yelled at her and she told me this was the worst Christmas ever. The boys have been fighting off and on all day, and it hasn't stopped raining so they can't play with any outside toys. It's tough. I was very judgmental for a lot of the day, and I was tough on myself and kids.
But I am able to observe that this is life, and it certainly is never perfect. But I love my family, and I love this little world we have created. And I am so damn happy I am sober and as I look around at them in fact laughing, being silly and making messes all while having fun, I have so much joy in my heart, despite the pressure and expectations I feel. This is what it is all about.
Once I am able to look past the stress and tantrums, I can see that my children are feeling the joy I so deeply want for them. They are loved. They are taken care of, and they are safe.
I am so grateful for my sobriety, and I wouldn't want this day to happen any other way.