As a mom, when I think of the holidays, I picture my kids’ faces and hear their squeals of joy as they discover the Lego set or Frozen castle or hockey stick they really wanted under the tree. I think of laughter and noise and wine and cookies. I envision hanging our stockings and dragging our tree in through the front door, shedding pine needles everywhere, and I think of stomping off the excess snow from our boots as we walk into Grandma’s house on Christmas Day.
Yet, while the joyous memories flood my brain and memory, where am I in those pictures? Sure, I’m there. And I’m happily watching my kids tear open gifts and I’m definitely enjoying the wine later that day (and cookies). But I probably also have tissues and cough drops in my purse as I fight some sort of virus. And I probably drank ten extra cups of coffee every day in December just to function.
Because all that magic? All that joy? Do you know who makes it happen? Well, it’s not fucking Santa, I’ll tell you that. It’s mom.
And, it’s a LOT of work. :
It’s moms who make sure their little kids have that coveted red Christmas dress with silver sparkles. And sparkly shoes. And a bow. But when Christmas morning rolls around and your 5-year-old doesn’t have any tights that fit, who gets blamed? Mom, of course. Why didn’t she remember the tights?!
Um, maybe because she was busy raining magical fairy dust on ALL OF THE REST OF CHRISTMAS. Maybe it was because the day she had planned on getting tights, she also remembered she hadn’t bought teacher gifts yet. And that she’d promised her kids they’d bake cookies this year. And make a gingerbread house. And make ornaments for Grandma. And oh shit, there is only ONE Hatchimal left! Better grab it. And yes, she can help with the classroom holiday party. Bring in cupcakes? Sure. Add it to the list. And all of the neighbors have their holiday lights up already and it’s already December 5 and there’s still a goddamn rotting pumpkin on the porch…
So maybe she forgot about the fucking tights.
Because the magic is all on us. And we want to do it. We know we have a finite number of Christmases with our kids when they’re little (and if we ever forget, the internet is here to remind us!). And really, we only get like six magical years where they’re old enough to “get” Christmas, but not too old where they know the truth about Santa and slink off by 10 a.m. to play on their phones all day.
So we want to do all the things. We want to do the gingerbread houses and drive around and look at holiday lights and take a card-worthy family photo and spend hours decorating the tree, all as a family.
Except one kid got the flu and the other has band rehearsal for the holiday musical and your spouse has to work late. So instead, you decorate the tree in shifts. You quickly assemble and decorate a gingerbread house in an hour on a Saturday before running to the grocery store for the cupcakes you’ll need for the class party. You only made one dozen cookies (the other half burned), and the tree fell over during the night, which you only discovered when you jumped out of bed at 1 a.m. to remember to move that godforsaken elf.
And by December 25, you’re drop-dead exhausted. You’ve spent night after night wrapping gifts, online ordering, or lying awake in bed wondering what you forgot or wracking your brain about where that one Transformer is that you bought on sale in September and “hid in a safe place.”
By the time the actual holiday arrives, you have the flu this time. Or at least a wretched cold. You’ve survived on burnt cookies and black coffee for weeks. The dark circles under your eyes will defeat even the most expensive concealer.
You’ll wonder if you did enough. Was it magical? Did you sing “Jingle Bells” with your kids? Watch Polar Express and The Grinch? Drink hot chocolate? Visit Santa at the mall? Remember to turn your outside lights on every night? Send Christmas cards? Open the advent calendar door every day? Is everything wrapped? Did your kids hear you say at least 8 times that Christmas isn’t “all about presents?” Did you bake the pie and put the roast in the oven and remember to buy the kind of whiskey Uncle Ed likes? He loves that you always remember.
This is why moms are tired. It’s on us to make it all magical—the glitter and joy and spirit—that’s all mom’s doing. For the few years we have with our kids at home with us, we run ourselves into the ground to ensure that someday when they think back on their Christmases, they’ll see it—all of it. They’ll see the stockings and gingerbread houses and hear the delightful squeals and the words to “Silent Night” coming from the radio. (And hopefully they won’t remember that year you forgot to buy tights.)
So if you see a mom on Christmas day, off in a corner, gently closing her eyes for just a moment, don’t judge. (Just kidding. Moms don’t sit on Christmas.) But on the 26th, she gets a damn nap, okay fam? You go play with your new Nintendo Switch or LOL dolls and leave her alone while she takes a wonderful, glorious, peaceful, MAGICAL nap. She earned it.