“Turn off the video.” Those are the only words I spoke while my husband had his phone set up to record our annual tree trimming. That: does not bode well. It means I knew I did not want my next words and behaviors to be saved in perpetuity on his IPhone. (I’ve learned that- in 25 years of assorted tantrums caught on film of all sorts. There are a few celebs who should also learn this lesson- justsayin. I’m not alone.)
I should back up…. I didn’t plan it to be a too-cranky-for-cameras experience. It was supposed to be all: cocoa and cookies and Christmas music and memories made and shared…. A scene that took two days to set up and 12 seconds for me to wreck.
We did have warm cookies. (Yes- break and bakes count.) We did have cocoa. (I even made it the old fashion way that doesn’t involve packets or freeze dried marshmallows.) We even had Christmas music. (Gotta love shuffle on a playlist. Ba-ru pa pum pum.) We also had: college kids who had to get to work, and had other things to do, an elementary schooler who wants to horse around, dogs that want to steal cookies and cocoa and cost us an expensive visit to the doggy urgent care… (they didn’t- but they tried.) We had a father in the middle of trying to close a sale. And: a mom that felt compelled to clean the Christmas tree room before the tree was put up. (For the camera- of course.)
I should have known we were at risk when I tripped over the beagle and into the china cabinet while furiously cleaning. I really do mean furiously. Here is the soundtrack from that cleaning binge….”Why can’t anyone else see what needs to get done, and DO IT? Why am I the only one who can run a vacuum? Why am I the only one who does anything around here???? Why doesn’t anyone put their crap away?” Yup. Furious. I moved furniture, cleared the way for all the Christmas stuff to be brought up and set out- all while having an everlasting gobstopper of a tantrum. The truth is- by the time we finally got to the trimming “party” I was sore, exhausted and frustrated.
It was my own fault.
Here’s the thing: the fury was partly fueled by my lack of boundaries and teaching my family to be responsible. (With a side of stress and probably a touch of PMS.) The rest was fueled by my desire to make everything perfect.
Instead of perfect, it was one mess after another. Including but not limited to: a cocoa-milk boil over on the stove. (Multitasking gone bad, again. I may never learn.) A pre-lit christmas tree with all the lights: burned out. A Pre lit Christmas tree with most of the lights burnt out. A rash of undetermined but probably Lupus/autoimmune or nervous origin. Dogs that insisted on either going in and out and leaving muddy paw prints on my just mopped floor- or peeing on it. (Next flooring will be dirt colored. For sure.) And kids that wanted to get the show on the road so they could move onto their lives- because they have them. (As they should.)
Boundaries and expectations. The truth is-I didn’t have to make it so difficult. I should have asked for help. (I have great kids- they help when I remember to ask them- but they are not moms- they don’t always “see” what needs to be done.) I should have set reasonable expectations. I didn’t. And because of that- I had to turn off the camera to protect myself from becoming “that” viral video mom. The crazy one yelling at everyone to smile or, I’d kill them. And the one telling everyone to put ornaments on the tree- and then moving each one into it’s “proper” position. (I know, I know- if I were my kid I’d say: “Why bother?” too.. “if you’re just gonna move them after you MAKE us put them on…”)
The topper? Guess what the first thing I had to do once we put up the tree was? Vacuum. Again. (Yes- fake tress drop needles too.) The next thing? Dishes. (baking cookies just adds to the mess I have to clean.. WHY do I do this to myself?) Then- the cocoa boil over goo had to be removed. (Truthfully- there is still some on there. Maybe it will burn off. If I’m lucky.) And I needed Advil. (to say the least. My neck and back can only handle so much in one weekend- and this was more than that.) And of course- I had to re-dust. Because somehow, even though encased in enough plastic tubs to create a new Hawaiian Island if it were launched into the pacific…..everything still manages to be dusty when we bring it out. Every. Single. Year. And here is what the rest of the house looked like after I cleaned the “Christmas room”
Which is exactly why I didn’t want the camera running. I did however get a few still shots that captured our day…..and guess what? Messy and cranky or not- they are still precious moment of real life captured with my family…. My real- messy imperfectly perfect- family. who loves me even when I’m cray cray. And Whom I love even though they are afflicted with dirt blindness, and cannot all pose for a decent photo to save their lives…. (Which I may have futilely threatened to get the shots I did…)
From my messy house to yours: Merry Christmas- and- chill out. Enjoy the moments and stop trying to make the memories perfect… chances are you’re just like me- making everyone miserable. Unless- of course, I’m the only one….
Dear Lord- I hate it when I get caught in this loop of trying to make things perfect and not setting or maintaining boundaries…and then getting angry that my family isn’t mind readers…..help me learn lord. Help me grow. I need you.. even here- in the Christmas Mess. I love you lord- thank you for loving me- even at my crankiest and messiest. Amen