I Hate Holidays

easter-eggAs I walked through Target looking for something to get the kids for Easter, I passed the poofy, over-the-top Easter Dresses.  I remember getting a couple Easter Dresses for Jenny.

She didn’t wear them to church.

She wore them in the garden while digging for worms.

She didn’t really need an Easter Dress.  I needed to be able to buy her one.  I needed to be able to take a picture of my little girl in a frilly, crinoline-stuffed, white dress, with a pink satin ribbon tied at her tiny waist.

That dress and the picture were on my list – the long, guilt-driven, impossible-to-achieve list of All Things Moms Do.

She wore the dresses.

I didn’t care if they got dirty with worm slime.

I took the pictures.

We put the dresses in the closet, and there they stayed, because Jenny likes jeans and mismatched socks.  If she had her way, she’d stay in her pjs all day.

I haven’t bought an Easter Dress since we lived at Mark’s house.

My All Things Moms Do List changed dramatically the day we moved.

I’d had this idea in my head that it was my job to make holidays memorable.  The meals were supposed to be fabulous, with cloth napkins, and appetizers, and delightful desserts, and excellent conversation.  The house was supposed to look like the photographers from Country Living Magazine had called and were on their way.

We’d sit down to these special occasions, dressed in uncharacteristically nice clothes,  gaze into each others’ eyes and our hearts would fill with gratitude at how fortunate we were to be living such a blessed and happy life….


Yeah, so… that.


Yesterday morning found me rubbing sleep out of my eyes after having stayed up late to console a child who was quite obviously slighted by her father while he used Easter as a grandstanding opportunity.  The other child bent over backwards apologizing to his sister because, on this holiday, he was the obvious favorite.

After tucking them in and rubbing backs and going through our goodnight ritual, I stuffed all the eggs – by myself.   I hid the gifts – by myself.

Short on sleep, Easter morning, I juggled a video camera and a still camera and tried to follow my two as they laughed and giggled and discovered Easter Eggs and hid treats for their cat.

Of course the camera batteries died.  Instead of pitching a fit, I calmly asked them to stop hunting for eggs long enough for me to get new batteries – by myself.

Because they are used to how holidays work with only one parent on the scene, Jen and Will headed into the bedroom and waited for their lone parent to find batteries and get the show back on the road.

This was not on my All Things Moms Do List.

After the egg hunt and opening of gifts, I wanted to dissolve into a pile of tears on the couch.

But, I waited.

I took some breaths.  I told myself that no kid wants a memory of his or her mom crying on Easter morning.

I let the feeling wash over me.

That stinking feeling visits me on every holiday.  It comes in the backdoor wearing pressed linen slacks and a crisp white blouse and it says, “You failed them again.  In your attempt at not spoiling them, you shortchanged them.  Meanwhile, Mark shows up with ginormous baskets full of everything under the sun to show the world how much he loves his kids.  When are you going to step up to the plate and create the memorable holidays that your children deserve?”

I took two more breaths, put Pink Martini on Pandora, donned an apron and started frying sausage for the girl that loves all things meat.

I made blueberry pancakes for the boy who loves to spoil me with the world’s best pancakes.

I segmented grapefruit and sliced strawberries and heated real maple syrup and dug out cloth napkins and put juice in wine glasses and made fresh coffee.

And while I made a “fancy” breakfast, Jen and Will made me Easter cards.  Jenny’s said, “Thank you for my Easter presents.  I love you.”

Will’s said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”  He brought it to me and started to read it, and said, “Oops!”

The three of us started giggling the way you do when you are exhausted, or tired of being sad, or sick of pretending that everything is fine.

He crossed out “Valentine’s” and added “Easter”.

The card was fine.

The breakfast was fine, even if the kids were still in their pjs.

This life is fine, even without the poofy Easter Dress.

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  1. “Grandstanding opportunity.” Gah… I’ve done that. And usually I don’t like holidays because of the obligation to others. Hmm.. nope, nothing to see here, move along. Is it narcissistic to be worried about how narcissistic I am? Does that open a rift in the space-time continuum and swallow me whole?

    Nope, guess not.

  2. Hi Michael,

    Nice to see you here. And thanks for the laugh.

    Yeah, I lose sleep over all my potentially narcissistic tendencies.

    And then I remember that there’s a huge difference between self-aware and self-absorbed. Besides, a narcissist never thinks there’s anything wrong with him. By virtue of the fact that you even ask the question, that pretty much boots you out of the NPD camp.

  3. I thought there was a wash basket on my kitchen table. It was the little one’s Easter basket….lol!

  4. Zaira,

    Exactly. Two new laundry baskets!

  5. My saving grace! Thanks for that reminder, Jesse.

  6. Michael,

    Any time!

  7. Remember that what sustains your children is the memories you create for them. They can feel your unconditional love and your undying attentiveness to their feelings. I remember my bedtime rituals, the fun little things my mother used to do for me, more than any gift or materialistic item. This is what will linger on, what will sustain your children well into adulthood. It is easy to dislike the holidays for we tend to put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. We think we should be giving the world. We think we have to make it ideally perfect, when the love and time we give one another is truly the element that is essential. You are an amazing mom, and an amazing person, and your children know that. Don’t be too hard on yourself… and of course its easier said than done. Give yourself a moment to be sad, but just a moment, it deserves nothing more :).

  8. Your kids are going to have wonderful holiday memories – because of your love and the depth of your caring. Trust me: your kids will remember fondly their holidays with you, not necessarily Mark’s grandstanding gifts.

  9. Kira,
    Thank you so much for this comment. I love that you have memories of your own bedtime rituals.


  10. Pat,

    WHEN are you coming home. Shees!

  11. It’s Christmas that I hate. Because of the expectation that everything has to be just so. And everyone has to be perfect and get exactly what they want and so much expectation.

    I’m in agreement. Kids remember moments. not stuff. I remember only ONE Easter growing up — it was the one where the dog ate the huge chocolate bunny (given to THREE of us kids) that was left on the kitchen table when we went to church. Yes. it was a mess. And yes. the dog lived. She even still wanted chocolate!

    But I remember the way we laughed at the table and told stories and picked on each other and that stuff so much more than ANY holiday.

  12. Peggie,

    Thanks for sharing that fun memory – further proof that it’s the unexpected that we remember, and not all the orchestrated stuff.

    p.s. I’m glad the dog survived the chocolate incident. ;)

  13. This last Christmas, we had pajama day! I cooked all day, watched Christmas movies, and didn’t go anywhere. Best day ever!

  14. Jesse-Fat good we are as parents…K didn’t even get to hunt for eggs, she tore through her Easter basket in 5 minutes and was on to something else. That something else was playing horse back and reading her books with Mommy. SO…is it the gifts or the LOVE??? My child and your two fabulous children are going to remember the LOVE!!!!

    Oh and p.s. you’re welcome to come stand with us at the airport and wait for the plane to arrive. Sounds like you’re as excited to see them as we are.

  15. Zaira,

    That truly is my idea of the perfect holiday.

  16. Jo,

    K is one lucky little sweetie!

    We’ll be there. They were gone far too long!

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