24 Dec
Posted in: parenting
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‘Tis the Season for Ridiculous Expectations


The month of December is full of emotional landmines for me. The pressure I place on myself to make the Christmas season a joyous, memory-filled time is enormous and exhausting. Without family in town, I can feel lonely one day as we move through our traditions. The next day I’m savoring the joy of time spent with the five people who love me best. My emotions are a roller coaster of highs and lows with self-sabotage right around the next curve.

I was riding a holiday low into a recent roadtrip to Colorado for a Denver Nuggets vs. L.A. Lakers NBA basketball game. I was struggling with reality vs. my expectations. I had just survived the first day of Christmas break. My house resembled a zoo where the cages were accidentally left open that first day of break. Every toy we own found it’s way into the living room. There was a Nerf war in the basement that had me fearing for the safety of our youngest. I questioned who those young people were and told my husband I could no longer handle them as soon as the man returned from work and opened the front door on Monday. The beginning of break is always like that. The kids are ecstatic to be away from school and lose their minds. I blame the extra sugar, lack of sleep and general holiday magic for the loss of parenting control.

Pepsi Center Lakers vs. Nuggets

I was looking forward to being away from home, but allowed numerous thoughts to hijack my Christmas spirit and send my expectations spinning off-course. Too much time on social media had me feeling left out, not crafty enough and generally out-of-the-know of local holiday hoopla. I beat myself up for neglecting photos and a visit with Santa…again. Nevermind that no one wanted to see Santa, and we downplay him at our home. I still felt I had failed on some level. Several friends went through the lists of gifts they purchased their children, and I found myself wanting to give my own kids more. Nevermind that we use the same gift guidelines every year, and no one has ever grumbled about what they didn’t receive. I somehow felt they were being shafted by not receiving a pricey gaming system.

Larry Nance Jr. shooting vs. Nuggets

As we waited in line to enter the Pepsi Center, I battled with my inner meanie telling me I should have paid more for tickets closer to the court. That game was bigger than Christmas for our 8-year-old son. If he put as much energy into solving world peace as he does to tracking the Lakers and Larry Nance Jr., he could potentially change the world. The kids were surely going to be disappointed when they saw where our seats were located. They wouldn’t be able to get close to their favorite player but would see other people having the opportunity. I was frustrated and not spending time in the moment. I was battling concerns that didn’t even exist.

Kobe Bryant shooting free throw

I’m sure our kids would have loved to been courtside watching an NBA game, but they were thrilled to be in the building with Nance, their favorite player, and retiring superstar Kobe Bryant. They waved the sign they made even though there was no chance the intended would see it and tried to catch every and all free marketing item thrown from the court with no hope of them reaching our seats. They cheered, heckled and relished every moment of that game.

Larry Nance Jr. Lakers vs. Nuggets

I stared at their beaming faces and listened as they proclaimed the night “the best ever.” Their expectations had been exceeded. The evening was everything they had hoped. I hadn’t failed. That night was a reminder for me to keep my own expectations in check. I have a budget for presents. I don’t have to do everything my friends do. Messes will be made. Children won’t listen. I will become frustrated, and there may be tears.

I’m going to stop hindering myself with expectations for the rest of the holiday season. I’m going to enjoy the next week as it unfolds for our family. I’ve already witnessed a holiday surprise last night that made one of my pity parties ridiculous in retrospect. I’m planning on acting like my children and relishing the things I do have and cherishing the opportunities that are given albeit with less mess and Nerf darts.

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