We have been in full-on Christmas mode since the day after Thanksgiving. Decorations and Christmas music, blah blah blah (you know the Christmas drill).
Now that I’m a parent, my love for Christmas is on overload. This year, both of our kids actually understand what’s going on, so I’m finally in that Christmas sweet spot, so to speak. Of course, our children have been certifiably cray cray since Thanksgiving, which I’m starting to understand is typical (should your kids still be babies, be forewarned).
Despite the insanity, I’m still ecstatic for Christmas to get here, because I can’t wait to give my gifts out. This year, we committed to a low-budget and low-volume Christmas. As a practical matter, we’re moving, so our money is best spent elsewhere and we’re focusing on de-cluttering. As a philosophical matter, we’re working on being more minimal (I’ve committed to more minimalism in our new house) and appreciative because we’re blessed as is.
So this year, I have tried to be very intentional in my gift buying.
For our kids, I asked two questions: (1) does this jive with their interests and will they love this?, and (2) does this teach them something important and valuable? I now have a set of gifts hiding in our basement that I am stoked about, and I’m not crying when I look at my bank account.
For the adults, I continued my tradition of (1) shopping small and (2) shopping companies that give back. This is how I’ve been shopping generally since becoming a mom (I now take very seriously my purpose on this planet, so if I’m going to spend money, then I should spend it with purpose and give back to those who have less). I’m super excited to give some of the awesome gifts I’ve found for my fellow adults too.
As for my Christmas list? I didn’t really have one, per se. I asked for one actual gift (that money can buy) and then one “gift” (that money can’t buy).
What did I ask for, you ask?
All of you stay-at-home parents should relate to this one. I’m home with my kids 24/7. Yes, this is a choice I made. My career was flexible and allowed me to work from home, so I decided to take that route in my (unrealistic) pursuit of “having it all.” So not only am I with my kids all day long, I’m also cramming in about 20 hours of legal work (yes, I’m an attorney… guilty as charged) every week. Then why not tack on a blog for extra torture? No, I’m not complaining. I’ve got it good over here. But I’m tired as f@$%.
My husband is a brilliant dad. He works hard and parents hard, and without him, we wouldn’t have this picture perfect life. But he’s not home every day like I am. And in a lot of ways I’m bitter, since I’m basically a Jane of all trades juggling all the balls of life. On the days he’s home, we parent together. Sometimes we split the kids up, sometimes he takes them both out for an hour or two, sometimes he stays home with them when I have to go away for a day, and sometimes he takes them to his parents’ for the weekend. But he’s never parented them alone (without me at all) on a weekday. So yes, I’m (potentially unreasonably) bitter about his not knowing what those days are like.
That brings me to what I asked for. All I want for Christmas is for my husband to do what I do on a Monday through Friday, just once, without my helping at all. Feed, wash, and dress the kids. Do both school drop-offs. Come home to clean up and work. Do both school pick-ups. Feed them lunch. Attempt to put one down for a nap, resulting in a boycott. Have the other one cling at his ankles for two hours. Cram more work in while the clinger clings. Get them back out of the door for the afternoon activity. Entertain the toddler in a small waiting room for 45 minutes while they wait for the activity to end. Wrestle them back in the car to come home. Handle a bazillion tantrums, fights, and meltdowns. Cook dinner. Feed them (or more accurately, attempt to feed them) dinner. Bathe them. Read to them. Put them to sleep. Deal with the older one getting out of bed 10 times making countless excuses to not sleep. Clean up the disaster of a house. Do laundry. Work more. Exercise and hobby, if there’s time. And finally sleep, which is only 8 hours if I cut out one or more of the previous activities.
You catch my drift. I think what all stay-at-home parents want is validation that what they do every day is effing hard. What we all want isn’t for our partners to say “I go to work every day and not see my kids; that’s hard too.” Yes, we know. The thing is, I’ve worked that hard before. I’ve worked 14-hour days, wearing a suit, commuting 3 hours a day, dealing with clients and all the crap that comes with a “real job.”
But truly, staying at home with kids is harder. I can’t take a lunch break, or even a coffee break. I’m expected to produce quality legal work while simultaneously keeping two small humans alive and entertained. Then somehow I need to factor in self care so I don’t explode. This is the hardest job on the planet. And my bitter mom brain desperately wants my husband to acknowledge that my day is harder than his (even if maybe it isn’t in his mind).
If I do get my Christmas wish and my husband takes over the weekday grind, I likely won’t get the acknowledgment I truly want. Because if he admits that my job is harder, he’ll be admitting that I was right all along. And we know there’s zero chance of that happening.
So a happy holiday season to you and yours. May all your holiday wishes come true.