In the twentieth of our series, our mom of three kids--Emily and her new siblings, Grant and Lynn--faces a big family Christmas. Not only is she worried about all the preparation and gift buying, she’s concerned that her family will judge her kids and her parenting.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
I am so sick of that song running through my head--I can’t seem to get rid of it! December is definitely not the most wonderful time of the year--more like the most stressful! The most overwhelming!
The kids’ Christmas concert is next week, and I still have to make sure they each have a white shirt (clean, no stains) and a Santa hat. Plus, I have to figure out what to give each of the kids’ teachers. Because apparently, that is really important and, if I was a really good mom, I would have had each of the kids hand-make something that looked like I was channelling Martha Stewart. Well, since that is not likely to happen, I guess I’ll have the kids spread pinecones with peanut butter and roll them in birdseed. Yes, I know I’m risking the wrath of the school board by bringing peanut butter into the classroom; but, considering the only child in the school who is allergic to peanuts is in Disneyland, I think this small rebellion will go unnoticed. It’s either that, or each teacher gets some stale chocolates from the dollar store.
My sister in Prince George offered to host all of us for Christmas at her condo. That’s hysterical! It’s a two bedroom adult-only complex. Of course, we’re not invited to actually stay there, but she and her husband will host the dinner. The thought of packing up all our stuff, including presents and snow gear, to spend a few nights at the Holiday Inn sends shudders and chills through my whole body. They don’t have children, so they really have no concept of what this entails. But I give them credit for offering. It was a nice gesture.
So, since this is the first time in the past four years that all of my family will get together, we’ve decided to host it at our house. The Prince George sister, as well as the other siblings without children, will stay at a hotel so they can always escape the noise and confusion. My parents will stay with us, and I’ve asked everyone to take on the supplying, prep and cleanup of a meal, such as Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas morning breakfast, etc. Initially, everyone except my mom was shocked that I would ask them to provide food when they were travelling to get here for the holidays. Hello! There will be 14 of us! I don’t think it’s asking too much for everyone to contribute. There are grocery and liquor stores here ya know! Sheesh!
As the days wind down towards Christmas, the kids are getting more and more excited; and I am getting more and more anxious. I’m really worried about what my family will think, and say, (or not say) about the kids. I know it’s crazy for me to think the kids will be well behaved all the time, but there’s still a part of me that holds on to that little fantasy. I’ve always liked Christmas, and I want the day and the dinner to go well. It’s as though if Christmas goes well and I can pull off this dinner with a nice table setting and a fabulous meal, then I will feel like I’m doing okay. I’m putting so much pressure on myself, but it’s important to me.
I’ve always felt that although my siblings and parents have been supportive of our adoptions, they are always looking for faults with the kids. My family really doesn’t understand how difficult it is for the kids to learn from consequences; or how difficult it is for them to process information, especially when they are so excited about Christmas and there are lots of different people around. And the parenting techniques that we know work with our kids are different from those that my siblings use with their kids.
But I know what works with my kids and what doesn’t. I know the triggers that can send any or all of them bouncing off the walls. Most importantly, I know I can’t be the parent who sits in the living room calmly having a rum and eggnog with the other adults while the children are somewhere else doing who knows what.
And, you know what? I don’t have that annoying song going through my head anymore. Now that I’ve talked/written my way through my stress, I have a new song. “I saw Mommy kicking Santa Claus.” It’s my new mantra.