The night after Elana’s company holiday party, I took the kids to make Christmas presents.
Not a good plan.
Understand two things: 1. I was mildly hung over. 2. I therefore forgot to tell them we were giving this stuff away.
I am a rocket scientist
There was… hammering. My mild, eensy-weensy hangover perked up.
Aha! An opportunity to turn into a throbbing mind-melter
The kids were super well-behaved, all things considered. They listened well, weren’t particularly wild, and did a good job of staying with me in the crowded throng.
We didnt so much follow the directions on how to assemble the bird feeder. See point #1.
I was basically miserable. For which I feel like a total shit of a parent, because aren’t you supposed to rejoice in this stuff? Bonding time with the earnest fruit of your loins, a chance to laugh and have fun and make something really cool together: memories.
Mine will be of being grumpy and slightly woozy. At one point during the making of hot chocolate mugs, I had Vievey on my shoulders in order to help make space for the line that was accumulating behind us, and I felt all the blood rush away from my head and was pretty sure I was going to fall over.
I put her down.
I’m supposed to cherish these times, but this was just not my scene. The hangover was a significant part of it, but I also worry that it isn’t just the leftovers from a slightly inebriated evening. Going out to do crafty things with the kids rarely sounds good to me. I know they need stimulation and enrichment and above all parental attention, but I’m a homebody at heart. I crave my own private time, or at least a few minutes to knock out some writing. As I write this, I’ve bounced girls in my lap, wrangled a toilet paper dispute, and sworn that the next child to put their fingers in their hot chocolate will find themselves watching me pour it down the sink.
In the comfort of my own home, I can do these things. Out and about, it’s all-in, one hundred percent go-time with the kids just to keep them alive. Most trips aren’t quite so painful as this one, but I’m realizing that, for my own sanity, I’ve gotta take care of number one before the semi-clones. It’s like when the air masks deploy: you can’t save your kids if you can’t breathe, yourself. I spend a lot of time these days fight to breathe.
I’ve thought and written a lot lately about the nature of stories, and as I write this, I wonder if it isn’t time to ditch the “plane crash” narrative in my life. It’s really not that, after all. I love my kids and my life. Sometimes they’re overwhelming, but there’s no trading them for anything. I can tell a better story than a plane crash about my life.
Like how lucky I am to get to share the magic of Christmas with wide-eyes munchkins. If I’d have told myself that story befortwe left this morning, I wouldn’t have had three screaming kids reverberating through my hangover as I tried to explain that, no, they didn’t get tokeep this stuff they’d just hammered about 700 times into existence. They were gifts. For other people.
Reeeeeally should’ve brought that up sooner.
So here’s my gift to myself: a lesson that all I need is a new story. It just might make all the difference.