As a child, I remember Christmas being so magical and carefree. I simply woke up on Christmas morning to overflowing stockings and wonderfully wrapped packages sure to contain my most desired toy. Year after year it was the same beautiful, stress-free sight, a memory that every child should have to look back on.
But do you know what I never see in the flashbacks of my childhood Christmases? The strain on my mother that went into putting it all together. My mother, who was surely exhausted, always expressed joy and surprise at each gift we opened —while some man in red got all the credit.
I do not know how she did it or how I never realized what all she did. I never once thought that someone had to go through a whole heck of a lot to make this happen for me. Oh, I appreciated it but never as much as I appreciate it now that I am the one with tired eyes on Christmas morning.
Christmas is a lot different as a mom. More times than I care to admit, I have plopped myself down on the couch, closed my eyes, and wished for the day to be here and gone. There’s too much to do. There’s no way I am going to get it all done. Can we just skip Christmas this year?
Because as a full-time-working-already-spread-too-thin mom, Christmas seems to just add an extreme amount of stress, shopping, wrapping, sleeplessness and let’s not forget about the million different school and extra events as well. Not to mention, ‘tis the season for all kinds of germs floating around. I am not sure we have yet made it through a week before Christmas without some sort of belly bug or virus.
It is all completely overwhelming and, one thing is for sure, there is never enough time. Actually, just keeping track of everything on top of the normal day to day things is a challenge.
Just this week, I had to make sure both girls had a $5 gift for class, wore jammies on the right day to school and dance, hit a Christmas program, made it to two choir practices for the Christmas special at church (and three separate church services), attended breakfast with Santa and were ready for one of our three extended family Christmases.
At one point, I actually thought I was doing well at keeping track of everything. That is, until I picked Maylie up from dance right when it ended and watched as parents poured out of the dance room followed by a crying Maylie. Watch week. Yep, I completely forgot about it.
Mom of the year was not there on the one night of the year that we get to go in and see our little darlings show off their stuff. Nothing hits harder than seeing the look of complete devastation on your child. Especially for a mama who is doing everything she can to make this season perfect for her kids.
It sure made me stop and question why us mamas go through all we do during what should be the most magical time of the year. We literally bend over backwards to make sure all the presents are purchased and wrapped, outfits are on point, decorations are hung, gingerbread houses decorated, cookies baked and Santa’s lap has been sat on.
Christmas is just different and completely exhausting as a mom.
But then, as I thought about that little piece of magic that seemed to be gone forever once I had found out as a kid about Santa, it hit me. That void was no longer there.
Maybe, Christmas IS different as a mom.
It’s seeing — no feeling — the joy of the entire season with a different view. It’s no longer watching for Santa to enter the room but instead peeking at your children and seeing the complete joy overtaking their face at the sight of him. It’s the smiles and laughter in between flour messes and icing everywhere while spending time together baking. It’s watching little eyes gleam at lit up houses and rating them on how well they were decorated. It’s listening to the story of Jesus’ birth from their point of view and hearing their sweet voices sing about His glory.
And it’s sitting there slyly on Christmas morning with a look of surprise as you watch them unwrap all of your hard work for the season and seeing their pure joy and appreciation in the moment.
Yes, Christmas is different as a mom. It is stressful and exhausting. But the sharing in the magic of it all with your babies, without a doubt, makes every single part of it worth it.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.