Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Motherhood and More: Christmas anticipation fosters sleepless nights*

I think I might finally be a grown up.

I mean, I know it took long enough.  But now that I’m 33 ½ and have two young children of my own, I think it is time to call myself an adult. 

It didn’t happen when I turned 18, or 21, or when I got married.  And it didn’t even happen when I became a mother. No, I became an adult when I started sleeping on Christmas Eve instead of having insomnia caused by the excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning.

There’s so much build up, you know?  There are weeks spent planning and decorating and baking and shopping and wrapping and, in my case, knitting.  All of the preparation leads to this climactic night, this waiting for the accumulation of all the hard work to pay off.

And by all that I mean presents.  It’s hard to sleep the night before you know you’ll be receiving presents.  My family was always good about making the holiday about family and helping others, but still, there were presents.  And I have spent many a Christmas Eve night tossing and turning and willing myself to drift off because that would only make the morning come faster.

But alas, it never was easy.  I tried counting and meditative breathing.  I tried squeezing my eyes shut as tight as I could.  I tried putting the covers over my head.  Sleep was not easily achieved, no matter what I did.  I couldn’t tame the excitement, the butterflies in my stomach.  And when I did finally drift off, it was only for a few hours.  I would always, always wake up at an unreasonable hour and run downstairs to check out the tree.  And then I would have to go back up to my room and wait for my sister to wake up – my sister who could sleep through the apocalypse easily and deeply.  She never lost sleep on Christmas Eve, and would happily stay in bed past 10 a.m., which was ludicrous.  This was mostly because I couldn’t touch anything under the tree until I drug her out of bed, so Christmas morning usually began with a fight.  However it was easily resolved through the joy and good behavior of the season.

The past few years have been a bit more sleep-filled, however.  I’ve gone to bed and fallen asleep, slept the whole night, and only woken up when I heard my 6-year-old son sneaking down the steps at an entirely unreasonable hour.

And he will yell at his sister to get up while I drag myself awake, wiping my eyes, dreaming of coffee.  Of course he can’t touch anything until everyone is there, including his sister who isn’t quite as fast as he is to jump out of bed.

And I know he has lain awake at night, tossing and turning, and willing himself to sleep.  And maybe he’s woken up and gone downstairs to check on things sometime in the night, sometimes even before Santa has arrived.  I know he’s listened to hear Santa’s sleigh, trying to determine if that noise was a reindeer on the roof or just the wind. 

And he will probably be like this for years to come, even after he learns to drive or graduates high school.  Or maybe even after he gets married. 

Because it is exciting, you know?  The happiness and family and presents and time spent together celebrating creates something a bit magical. 

And who wants to sleep through that?

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on Dec. 24, 2014.

Monday, December 22, 2014

And I have how many days left until they go back to school?

I am currently 56 percent zombie, 41 percent coffee and the rest cracker candy.

That's because my sweet 4-year-old Adele had a minor freakout at 2 in the morning in the form of hysterical screaming about spiders in her bed.  (Spiders this time, not snakes.)  And so I lay with her for awhile to calm her down, and I noticed that she sounded horribly congested and wouldn't stop coughing.  I got her some cough medicine and hippie decongestant salve and returned to my own bed, hoping to quickly return to sleep.  I knew it was wishful thinking because I am self aware, but still.  I wanted to believe it was possible.

But then, of course, Adele began fake crying because she's not supposed to get out of bed and that was her way to get our attention.  She's not supposed to get out of bed because for the past few weeks (WEEKS) she has come downstairs in the middle of the night to our bed.  We let her stay for a bit then one of us (me) will carry her back to her own bed.  And neither parent goes back to sleep.

So instead of coming downstairs after we told her not to she put her head right by her door and fake cried until I made it back upstairs.  I gave up at that point.

I stayed in her bed until around 5.  I think I slept some.  A bit.  But not nearly enough.  And today I needed to run to the store for jewelry supplies because I had two necklace orders and desperately needed chains even though I was sure I'd bought an obscene amount the last time I stocked up and how did I go through so many so fast?  (Obviously, this is a good problem to have.  Just not today.)

So the kids and I went out, me partially awake and Adele majorly tired and possibly on the verge of a meltdown.  But luckily that didn't show up until we were waiting in line at the bookstore to get a drink and I refused to buy her a cookie.  We were at the bookstore because I didn't have the energy to disagree with my son who really, really wanted to go there.  That's also how we ended up with a chapter book.  Well, that and I'm a sucker for books and it's pretty awesome that he's reading chapter books and I'm ok with encouraging it.

And maybe I would have been okay with buying a cookie for the kids if they hadn't spent the entire weekend eating nothing but sugar.  We had three parties to go to on Saturday which included cupcakes and gingerbread house and cookie decorating and hot chocolate and chocolate covered pretzels and - and - and ...

And on Sunday we had my parents' Christmas party where the rest of us ate lasagna but my two unnatural children don't actually like lasagna and so survived on Pez.

So I thought I'd attempt to get them back on some sort of halfway-healthy-type of food plan, which didn't include overpriced cookies from the bookstore cafe.  Adele flipped out so we left that line and went in the book-buying line, which actually was longer than the over-priced coffee and cookie line.  And she wouldn't stop flipping out so I put her Barbie book back and just bought Sebastian's book because he was behaving like a civilized human being.

And then she screamed in the car when she realized I hadn't bought her book.

Thems the breaks, kid.

We went home and ate lunch and Adele took a nap, which means that she was exceptionally tired because she didn't even protest me forcing her in her room all that much.  I honestly think she was a little relieved.

I probably should have taken a nap myself but I had three baskets of laundry to fold and Gilmore Girls to marathon and so I just made another pot of coffee and had a few more bites of cracker candy an considered myself sustained.

Lest you think I was completely neglecting my older child, he was around, and perfectly behaved because he spent his afternoon watching youtube videos of a boy opening toys and playing with them.  Now, I don't necessarily understand the concept of evantube, but it keeps him occupied.

Good Lord, is it only the first day of Christmas break?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spreading the Christmas cheer one animal sacrifice at a time

I maybe forgot I had a blog.

Okay - I didn't forget.  I spend every morning for the last little bit (when was the last time I actually wrote something?) planning to write, telling myself to write, even writing posts in my head.

But I seem to have forgotten to actually write.

But I'm here now!  At least for today, and really, that's all I can commit to because time and Christmas and work and all that.

My I Love Kentucky necklaces have become popular all of the sudden, with mucho orders coming in. (Maybe it was because of the giveaway?) Every time I see a new order I grin and tell my husband how excited I am because SOMEONE WANTS TO BUY SOMETHING I MADE!  You have no idea how happy it makes me.  I am goofy with joy.  There'as also been some interest in my new personalized motherhood necklace.  I wear mine all the time, myself,with my kids' initials stamped on the little hearts.  My son likes to see it on me and comments on how I like to keep him close to my heart.  I sure do, buddy.

So what with all the grinning and the celebrating people buying things and the making I am a bit booked up, you know?

And then, on top of that I decided last minute - as per my usual schedule - that I would hand-knit some presents for people.  Every year I say no - I'm not going to put myself through it because it's ridiculous to stress myself out as much as I do and also I have a million other things that require my attention.  And then I change my mind very close to Christmas because handknits are awesome and I like to spread happiness in the form of wool.  And that leaves me scrambling and up late and sore-wristed from all the knitting.  I think it will be manageable this year, though.  I've chosen a quick pattern and everyone gets the same thing.  So maybe it won't be so bad?

Do I say that every year?  I feel like I say that every year.

We'll see.

I also have lots of baking/food making to get done.  And birthday parties to go to and Christmas parties and then there's my annual animal sacrifice for snow on Christmas.  (I'm kidding. No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post, or in the hopes of creating snow.)

This time of year is fantastic, isn't it?  I've honestly been a bit grumpy about the whole thing, trying to make myself feel more Christmas cheer than I do.  But I think maybe my standards are too high.  It's okay for me not to be ebullient over everything Christmas related.  I am all grown up now, even though I don't always feel like it.  Of course the season isn't going to be the same as it was when I was a kid so I should probably try to stop focusing on why I don't feel the way I feel like I should feel.  You feel me?

Instead, now I can create all that magic for my little monsters.  I can make the days exciting and full of all that stuff that made me so Christmasy in days past.

Which is a pretty great gig, if you can get it.