I’m very fortunate as a new Mom to have found some awesome Mom friends who I can turn to when things are insane (which is pretty much all the time). One of these dear friends is Hillary. We connect on many levels. As she says, “While I’m sure most working Moms live a life of chaos, we don’t seem to waste the time and energy trying to hide it.” I think its one of our strengths. I love her because she is a beautiful ball of creative energy who is weird enough to think that I’m great too. She shares her brand new boxes of crayons with me and even shares her advice when I need it. She recently gave me permission to share one of her stories with you with the hopes that someone else would learn from her mistake. When you start your family you know that things will have to change but its really easier said than done. The Holidays are especially hard. My weird brood is still trying to figure out what works best for us and I’m sure this year will be even more insane with all four kids around. Hillary learned the hard way that sometimes the old traditions just don’t fit with your new family.
You see she and her husband (who I also love) had been together for a long time before they had kids and thought they had their Christmas routine all worked out. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent with his family in their hometown an hour and a half away followed by time with her family back here on the evening of the 25th. They soaked up all the family time, ate all the food, and basked in the wonderful chaos that only comes with times like this. It was perfect! They loved it! When their daughter was born they wanted to keep it as close to the normal run of show as possible. They decided that sleeping at home on Christmas Eve would be best for the baby and would allow them time to do Christmas morning with Santa at their house before returning to his parents’ place. Three month old baby, healing c-section, hour and a half drive, what could possibly go wrong?!
All of it! One thing you underestimate as a new parent is how freaking long it takes to get out of the house with a child. They have so many accessories that you have to pack! Its like going camping! On December 24th the hour and a half drive became a three hour adventure in exhaustion. Once they got there she realized that she’d had no idea how difficult it would be to breastfeed her little one who was battling a cold. Her in laws offered help but to a new Mom accepting it only felt like failure. She ached from her c-section and desperately needed a nap although her family didn’t seem to understand. She missed her Mom who’d been staying at her house to help with the new baby. She was completely drained by the time they got home around 1am.
To make matters worse, she was determined that her three month old would have a Santa morning for her first Christmas! This is the part of her story where I had to pause open mouthed and get a repeat. She and her husband stayed up wrapping presents and prettying up. A couple hours later the baby woke up to eat and she, her husband, and her mom unwrapped all of the presents that they’d just wrapped. They knew it was absurd but sometimes you have to just stick with it. I’m pretty sure I would have been so tired that I would have killed someone for looking at me funny but she plowed onward. She spent the rest of what she now calls the worst Christmas ever in a fog of exhaustion and pain. She was heartbroken. It was all supposed to be perfect! None of it was!
They knew then that it was time to be their own family and make their own traditions. They realized that it was their job as parents to protect the magic of Christmas for their children, even if that meant sacrificing their old version of “normal”. They still go to see her husband’s family on the 24th and stay till after midnight but the 25th is all about their little family. They stay in their jammies and watch movies and just slow down. In the crazy fast paced world we live in, that alone is a Christmas gift. Their choice didn’t make everyone happy right away but eventually they came around. Nine years later they love their family tradition but are open to changing it one day when their kids have families of their own. As she says, she never wants her kids to cry on Christmas the way she did that first year.