The ‘mental problems’ category

The Beat-Down-by-December Blues

December 21st, 2018

Truth? I am so beat down by December that’s it’s been hard to write about being a work-at-home mom of twin 3-year-olds in a cheeky, lighthearted way.

I put forth a pretty valiant effort to make this holiday season less stressful for myself. I talked to my close friends early on and let them know I wasn’t planning on doing a big gift-exchange thing this year. Outside of my immediate family, I was only going to buy unique gifts for the kids in my life, and only a few of them. And as for my own family, my husband and I decided on a joint gift and committed to being chill about the whole Santa thing.

Unlike two years ago, when I crafted a large handful of bespoke cookie cookbooks from corrugated kraft board, Courier New, and hand-drawn illustrations, my “festive group gift” this year would be “simple chocolates.”

I would only send holiday cards if it came easy. No scramble to schedule a photo shoot for my unenthusiastic family, no meticulously constructed collage art shrunk down to fit on 5×7 card stock. No late-night hand cramps as the deadline loomed and I felt drawn to write an original and highly touching missive on each of 80+ cards.

This year, I would not succumb to the holiday craziness.

Here’s how that went: really fucking badly, thanks for asking.

Despite my best efforts and intentions, this month has been off the rails in terms of stress and craziness. I suspect that’s just how it is, and unless you pick up and go on safari or sabbatical with your family for the entire month, you simply can’t avoid it.

Today is December 20th, and if I don’t have mono, I am surely about to get it. It’s been going around my kids’ school, as has this surly stomach virus that everyone in my family got within three days of each other this past week. You really haven’t lived until you and your partner have been laid out on opposing sofas for an entire afternoon, begging your now-healthy 3-year-olds to please stop jumping on your stomach and try to be helpful. Can’t you just go get me a ginger ale, kid?

Never in a million years would they hold hands on the street like this for Mama.

Never in a million years would they hold hands on the street like this for Mama.

I think the highlight of my holiday season in terms of wow I can’t believe I thought that was a good idea was last night, when I opted to pick them up at school at 5 (their one long school day) and take them straight into town for some “fun” Christmas shopping and dinner out. With yours truly as the only adult.

I imagine that when you have one three-year-old, it’s super trying, but perhaps not quite as terrifying as when you have two, and one of them insists on sprinting away at full speed in busy downtown traffic while the other one is pretending to be a bunny that can only hop, and only very slowly and occasionally. Or when you finally get one kid out of her car seat, and she insists that not only does she want to put her jacket on by herself (it’s 17 degrees out, she’s wearing a t-shirt, and this could take minutes), but you cannot look at her while she does it. Just to be safe, she wants to make sure she is completely out of your line of sight — so she ducks behind a stranger’s car, in the dark, in a seedy parking lot. And the other child, meanwhile, refuses to get out of the car seat at all and somehow is too heavy and unwieldy to forcibly lift against her will.

This went on as I brought them to my favorite Brattleboro boutique, Altiplano, which is a beautiful place full of lots of beautiful things — lots of tiny, beautiful, very expensive, bespoke things. How I imagined this would go: my girls, standing by my side, point to things they think Daddy might like. We make a consensus decision, pay together, and leave. Are you laughing?

It also went on as I brought them to dinner at the terrific fish-and-chips place next door, where I accidentally ordered $56 worth of mostly spicy vegan dishes by accident because I was trying to deal with both kids while ordering from a teenager.

And it went on as I tried to get them back to the car — maybe 150 yards away — while balancing the gifts I had picked out against their will, the vegan takeout I did not mean to order, my purse, and the luggage full of distractibles I bring into any restaurant, and my kids sprinted in opposite directions like deaf, surly, spastic hyenas on a suicide mission.

After we finally got home and had dinner again (restaurant dinner doesn’t count, I guess), I reflected on all the evening’s poor choices and decided never to take them anywhere ever again until they are grownups. Then I remembered making the exact same decision last week after trying to run a “quick errand” to Massachusetts after picking them up at school.

If you actually got to the end of this, I will reward you with a secret: That day, I went through the McDonald’s drive-thru for French fries to keep one of my daughters quiet in the car.

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