I don’t know what it is. I don’t have much to complain about. In fact, I really don’t have anything to complain about. Except maybe the constant state of my house. The never ending piles of laundry. The dishes that pile up the second you hit wash on the dishwasher. But that is motherhood. The consistent to -do list, the constant dealing with personalities, the ‘it’s never going to end’ pile of crap. That is what I signed on for when I decided to have kids. I really have no right to complain. It’s a little selfish, really. And I know that. But despite the mental knowledge that I have it pretty good, I am just… blah. I feel bad about it. I do. I know that this is the season to be happy. I just can’t muster it. I am just not merry around Christmas.
As I spill coffee down my shirt while writing this, I can feel the mix of frustration and heaviness building inside. The little things do that to me these days. They manifest a reaction that would normally roll off my shoulders. In fact, I would probably post something funny on Facebook about it. But these days I am not in the mood.
Maybe it is depression brought on by loneliness. While I choose, most of the times happily, to be alone and not allow anyone in, it can be hard to fall asleep alone night after night. I worry that I will be 75 years old, walking around this old house alone, rescue Beagles on my heels, wishing my kids had more time to come for Christmas. But my marriage and divorce were so traumatic for me that I just can’t find it in me to trust anyone again. I am just not there. I cannot move on as fast as he did, already remarried and planning kids. I have just not healed yet. So, even if I could meet someone, which is less likely as the days pass, I would not be whole for them and that is just not fair.
It could be that sometimes it is all just all too much. The responsibility of raising three girls, hopefully well, and doing everything necessary to make sure they succeed. I take that job very seriously and usually enjoy it a lot. I never don’t want to parent or have my kids with me. It kills me when they leave, even for a weekend with their dad. But, after a while, the pressure just loads up and weighs me down. With the holidays, I am the one getting teacher gifts, stepping in to my daughter’s class to do the class party when no one else will, buying and wrapping all of the gifts for my kids, decorating, remembering plays and sing a longs, moving those damn elves, dealing with the overexcited girls and their endless chatter about Christmas at bedtime, and handling the life that I have built for them to grow into. It just feels like a house is sitting on my shoulders sometimes. A house full of rooms filled with their hopes and dreams, their schedules, their needs and their happiness.
It could be that the holidays have never really held anything terribly special for me. Before I was adopted I don’t even think we had Christmas. After I was adopted we did, and they were awesome, but I think I had already decided that nothing good happens around the holidays. My birth mother, whose story I thought I knew until recently, was born and died around the holidays. I think just having her in my past brings a lot of sorrow to my holiday season. It just shadows it, making it hard to let go and believe in the magical happiness that surrounds it. Even when I was married, I had to plan everything, handle everything and take care of it all. It never felt like a season of someone loving me. It just was a time of year for me to do even more to take care of others.
I don’t know. It could be a combination of it all. I truly love Christmas with my kids and watching their faces light up with every package. I feel honored that I can give them Christmas when so many can’t. I love that I can keep the image of magic in it for them. I do get great joy out of watching them.
But for me, who they have started to notice never has a present under the tree, it is hard to be merry all Christmas season long. Here and there and a huge spurt on Christmas for the kids is about it. The rest of the time I feel tired and on the brink of tears. Which I have to hide. Because I don’t want my kids to see.
I would bet that I am not the only one. I bet there are more people that feel the way I do, for a variety of reasons, over the holidays, than those who are completely happy and merry all the time. I would bet that this time of the year is the hardest for more people than you know.
So as you deck the halls and shop for those you love, be kind all season long to everyone. The woman checking you out – even if you had to wait 45 minutes in line. The man ringing the Salvation Army bell – even if it is the 45th one you have seen that day. The child who is having a tantrum in the store and adding to your stress level. Be kind to everyone. Say Thank You. Say Merry Christmas.
Because you never know if they really are merry this Christmas season or just faking it because they think it is what everyone else expects them to do.