The holidays are a complete roller coaster for me. Wednesday, just a sample day for me, brought joy, frustration, despair, and stress-eating an entire can of chocolate-covered peanuts.
Here’s a timeline:
6:37 a.m.: Shower. Coffee. Remind myself that, after I only have two more “waking up early” mornings after this.
7:02 a.m.: Drag the girls bodily from their beds. Quiz Ruby with questions from her social studies study guide while making breakfast.
7:31 a.m.: Realize Georgia is going to have to finish breakfast in the car. Strap her in, give her her lidded cup of milk and her peanut butter crackers; get Ruby and my stepson, Elliot, installed in the car with all of their assorted crap.
7:59:30 a.m.: Skid into school right before the tardy bell. One mom wants to know the juice box status for the pre-K party; another mom wants to know if I’ve planned games for the fourth grade party.
8:46 a.m.: Traffic’s horrible, but I get great parking at work!
9:49 a.m.: Just before buying Amazon gift card as class teacher gift for Ruby’s teacher, realize I should probably text her to make sure she shops on Amazon. But everyone loves Amazon, right?
9:54 a.m.: Teacher texts back that she is so grateful that we’re thinking about her, but she doesn’t really shop on Amazon. On to Plan B. Glad I asked!
12:02 p.m.: Refuse to drive my coworkers to lunch on the excuse that my car is filthy (which is true), but really it’s because I don’t want to give up my parking spot.
1:03 p.m.: Make it to a 1 o’clock meeting 3 minutes late.
2:07 p.m.: Order books for Ruby’s and Georgia’s school gift exchange on Amazon. Pay the extra for overnight shipping because I completely forgot about this until now.
2:26 p.m.: Send third frantic message to Etsy vendor regarding the class favor tags I ordered Dec. 1 for the class party. It’s been two weeks. Try to use all-caps sparingly.
4:45 p.m.: Sprint out of the office to my (conveniently parked) car; realize that something in the car smells unspeakably foul. Sort of like rotting melon, with a hint of dead fish, laced with the chemically sweet scent of Ruby’s Bath & Bodyworks hand sanitizer. Don’t have time to figure out what it is. Curse.
5:17 p.m.: Pick Ruby up from my in-laws’; navigate rush-hour traffic in a vain attempt to get her to Lafreniere Park by the requested call time of 5:30 for her Christmas concert. Ruby changes into her tights and dress in the car; tells me, “Mom, whatever you do, please don’t get pulled over now because I don’t want cops to see me naked and also I think this might be illegal.”
5:38 p.m.: Get lost inside Lafreniere Park. Force Ruby to call her choir teacher while I curse under my breath.
5:42 p.m.: Find the right place to check in for the Christmas concert.
5:44 p.m.: Put a sweater on Georgia.
5:44:30 p.m.: Georgia takes her sweater off.
5:45-6:45 p.m.: Approximately 87 well-meaning people ask me why my child is not wearing a sweater.
6:04 p.m.: Christmas concert starts. Although I am a little impatient with an interminable song in German, which none of the children and very few of the adults understand, I start bawling during “Silent Night” because I’ve been thinking all day about how it’s the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings, and Ruby was the same age as so many of the kids who died, and now she’s almost 10 but they’ll never get any older, and I’m just so damn grateful for my kids but also terrified of what tragedies could befall them, and anyway, whatever, I was kind of a mess.
6:36 p.m.: Concert over. Both kids are “starving.” Georgia wants cotton candy. Ruby wants a funnel cake. Funnel cake is $7. I don’t feel like fighting, so I buy the $7 funnel cake, muttering, “This better be some damn good funnel cake, kiddo.”
6:38 p.m.: Ruby pronounces the funnel cake “not really very good.”
6:39 p.m.: “Mom, your car smells even worse than it did before. What is that?”
6:40 p.m.: In the space of 4 minutes, Georgia has licked the entire cone of cotton candy until it has shrunk to the size of a LEGO. Her face, teeth, hands, and clothes are now neon blue.
7:06 p.m.: Get home. Unload children and their crap from the car. Go in search of the source of the smell.
7:07 p.m.: It was Georgia’s sippy cup of milk from breakfast, which has leaked all over one of her coats on the floor of my car. I am triumphant! Make my husband smell the coat. Cackle. Wash the coat. Febreze the car.
7:12 p.m.: Check the mail. Etsy labels still not here. Send another frantic email to vendor, with even more all-caps words than the last email. Decorum be damned; I need these labels.
7:16 p.m.: Go to Whole Foods to get teacher’s preferred gift card.
7:36 p.m.: Take phone call from a mom about what kind of Chex mix she should make for the party.
7:39 p.m.: Ask my husband to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 just how awkward I was on the phone. “Like, did I sound like a normal human female? Or did I sound like a robot imitating a human female?”
7:47 p.m.: Eat dinner (which my husband cooked, bless him). Ruby doesn’t like dinner. I lose my temper; Robert makes her a can of chicken noodle soup. I pour a glass of wine.
8:13-8:47 p.m.: Stuff a total of 70 favor bags for both girls’ classes (eight Whoppers and one red gumball for Georgia’s class — which will have a tag that says “Reindeer Noses” if my damn Etsy order ever arrives — and four white and blue gumballs for Ruby’s class — which will have a tag that says “I Hope Your Holidays Are SNOW happy” ibid).
8:48 p.m.: Answer a text from a mom debating the relatives merits of cookies vs. donuts. (“The kids will be happy with whatever you bring! Thanks! *Christmas tree emoji*”)
8:49-9:48 p.m.: Clean kitchen while listening to Ruby write a poem. Poem is pure schmaltz about how the “true meaning of Christmas is joy, not a toy,” and she means not a single word of it; she will cut me if she doesn’t get the American Girl Doll of the Year. Discuss the essay for the social studies test. Bathtime. Stories. Make sure Ruby has her Christmas pajamas on for Pajama Day Thursday. Make sure all the pieces of Georgia’s angel costume for the school play in the morning are together and accounted for.
9:56 p.m.: Realize right as I’m climbing in bed that Ruby has a basketball game the next day. Dig through hampers of clean but unfolded clothing to find her uniform.
10:07 p.m.: Collapse, knowing the next day will be even crazier. Too keyed up to actually sleep (where are those Etsy favor tags? what do I need to buy for my office party? how am I going to do the class book exchange?), stay up till well after midnight reading bad futuristic mystery novels.
(At 4:47 a.m., I was awakened by a text alert that my Etsy labels were “out for delivery,” which overjoyed me even though the timing wasn't great.)
It’s an insane time of year, but as one of the moms said to me at the Christmas concert, “You know we’re going to miss this one day.”
Yes. I know. We are.