They're already getting me! The Holiday Heebee Jeebies are sneaking up...that horrible feeling that everyone is going to be up my ass to be everywhere at the same time. Yup. It's one of the not so awesome parts of being domestic. I like to reflect on the days when I didn't feel pulled in any direction at any time and I could just nomad myself from place to place with no real schedule and no stress.
I've come to terms with the fact that I can't please everyone...and in the last year I've realized not only can I not please them all but I don't really care if I please them all. It's eat or be eaten in family life sometimes. The sad but simple truth is that when you're in a family there are going to be people who expect you to be at every function without question. There are people who will always say there is no obligation (they're usually the coolest and least stressful people to deal with and what's worst is that they're usually the ones who get screwed on holidays). There are the people who get upset and cause drama if they don't get their way. There are the people who don't give a shit about anyone else's plans and there are the people who expect you to make it to all their functions but rarely make it to yours. If you try to please them all, you will go nuts. At some point you have to either choose to run yourself and your family stupid (which usually results in people being pissy) or stand up and say enough is enough.
Coping with the holidays is often like the Kubler-Ross Model for the stages of grief. Whaaaaaaaa? Yup. I said it. Check this out!
It always starts this way.
"Oh I'm sure we are going to be able to make it to everything! I know some parties are at the same times but we can make it work!"
Yeah right, ladies. Unless you're Samantha from Bewitched and can twitch that cute little nose of yours and pop from place to place, it's not possible to be in 2 places (or more) at once. You can think that you can make it work all you want, but you're just fooling yourself.
"This fucking sucks! I am trying so hard to figure out how to make all this work but there's no damn way we can be at all our parent's houses at once and no way we can be at our friend's party the same day. What the hell am I supposed to do? Fucking miracle myself into 12 places at once?! Why do the holidays always have to suck so bad?! I hate the holidays!"
Yup. We all say it at least once during the October/November/December months. And it's true! The holidays can totally blow goats if you can't figure out how to make it work to get everywhere you need to be. Don't beat yourself up about feeling this way, everyone does. If they didn't it wouldn't be the holidays!
"Can we please please possibly reschedule XYZ function to later that day? We have so many places to be and we really want to make it to your place too! It would really really help us out! Please?"
"Sweet baby Jesus in a manger, please help me figure out how to get to all these places or what parties to skip! I feel so bad not making it to all them and I just don't know how we can possibly make this work!"
Baby Jesus can not make you magic. End of story. You can beg all you want and it might help in some situations, but when family is involved and people are traveling or have other obligations (please note the word 'obligations' because I will get to that in a bit) the chances of getting times changed or parties moved to other days is slim to none. This is something I've had to learn the hard way...bargaining is a waste of breath!
"This sucks. I hate the holidays. I can't make anyone happy. I might as well not even try. Who cares! No one gives a shit about how I feel, what I want to do, what's best for my family...it's all about them. Apparently we're not important. I just wish the holidays were over. Is it next year yet?" *insert pout face here*
Inevitably we all hit the point where the stress of trying to puzzle piece it all together overloads us...especially if we're moms and we're trying to make the holidays awesome for our little kids. A cry in the shower, some tears over present while wrapping, that one sappy holiday song that sends us to sobbing in the car...most moms break down at some point during the holidays because of the stress. And that my friends, is BULLSHIT! The holidays are supposed to be happy.
Acceptance comes in 2 forms depending on who you are and how you work through the other stages.
Acceptance type one is you accepting things the way they are and forcing the square schedule through the round time frame...so to speak.
"Ok. Fine. It is what it is. I can't make it to all these functions, so we will have to split our time, here and there and everywhere and we will do 20 minutes at this party and 40 at the next one and then an hour at this last one but the baby will be crying by then...guess I will just have to deal with it and sit alone in a room until he falls asleep while the rest of the family parties and has a great time without me...that's how it is for a mom. At least the holidays are only once a year!"
Uhm...yeah that's not how I'm doing it this year.
Acceptance two is you accepting that you have the power to make the holidays awesome for your family and anyone who isn't on board with that can kiss your big un-sunkissed ass (yeah, its a word!).
"Ya know what. Fuck it! I'm going to have Christmas here on this date and anyone who makes it makes it and anyone who doesn't doesn't. Not my problem anymore. I can't do it all, so I'll just do my best and if it's an issue for someone, they can step it up and tell me!"
See here's how it works.
Life is short.
Power struggles are everywhere.
Family is not excluded from these statements.
So, you may ask: Abby, how do I survive the holidays?
Are you thick skinned? Because you might have to be.
You have to choose right now, before the holiday hustle starts...
Are you going to run yourself and your family ragged in the interest of keeping the peace?
Or are you going to sit down with your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend, get on the same page and say
we're doing it different this year. We're not going to make ourselves nuts!
-YOU are in charge of your family. Other people can only dictate what you do at any given point in time if you let them. I for one, refuse to let anyone tell me what to do. I'm not 4 years old anymore, you can't push me into something I don't want to do. And I'm not an idiot, I know when someone is trying to manipulate me and whether I state it out right or sit back and watch to see how they will play it out...it's not going unnoticed. If someone wants to spend time with you, I mean REALLY wants to, they will work with you to make that happen.
-Don't be unnecessarily combative but don't get walked on. Don't get your calendar out looking for a fight, but don't hesitate to say "I'm sorry but that doesn't work for us. Perhaps we can do..."
-Stand your ground. Only you are with your children 24/7. Only you know the ins and outs and gory details of what goes on day to day in your home. Only you can make the judgement call of what is truly best for your family and if running like chickens with your heads cut off is what is best...then by all means go for it. But if having some time at home and spacing things out a bit is what is best this holiday season, then don't let someone who isn't there all the time making choices for your family try to tell you that what you feel is best isn't good enough.
-Try to make it work, but don't beat yourself up if you can't. You're only human and you shouldn't single handedly carry the weight of everyone else. Give yourself a breather and smile knowing that what you do is good enough for the people who are most important (that would be your significant other...) if it wasn't good enough for them...they wouldn't be with you.
It's easy to lose focus on what is important during the holidays. Love the ones you can, do your best to see family but don't do it at the expense of yourself, your husband, your children, or your sanity.
Things will fall into place. The people who want to spend time with you will and all the rest can take their power trips and shove them.
How will my holidays be this year? Peaceful, loving, and calm. Even if I have to force them to be ;)