The Unexpected Christmas Gift

At midnight, Christmas began with an urgent rush up the stairs to the sounds of my daughter barfing in the toilet.  The poor thing had left a trail through the hallway after rushing out of the sleep-over room.  My oldest, home from college, had set up her bedroom so all four siblings could spend Christmas Eve in the same room to wait for Santa.  This was not part of the plan.

Over the next couple hours, a bath was run, hair was washed, carpet scrubbed, back rubbed.  “Mom Mode” took precedence to Santa’s workshop, and I ended up laying in a twin-sized bed until about 5 am.  

So Christmas Day looked different this year.  Stella stayed on the couch all day which set the tone for all of us.  I stayed in my pajamas, we cancelled plans for guests to come over for dinner, my 20-yr-old left early to spend the day at her boyfriend’s.  It was a far cry from what any of us had envisioned in the weeks of prep and planning leading up to this spectacular day.  I can’t even count the hours I put in leading up to Santa’s arrival.  

Thank God I’m not a perfectionist.  Thank God I can sit still today, and just be ok with the way things are, seeing that everything is already okay.  I got the chance to be a good mom.  And some people will read this and say I did what I was supposed to do, but some will relate to the fact there were so many times I didn’t.  I would have somehow made it about me, even if it was just in my thoughts.  Stella told me a hundred times over during the last 24 hours, “Thanks for taking such good care of me, Mom”, and that says to me we both know I’ve sucked at this before.  

Last night, nothing stood in my way while I crouched next to the bathtub and listened to her cry on Christmas night about how sad she was.  Nothing else was on my mind- not the dishes or the living room mess or all that other adult crap.  I was in the moment so hardcore I felt like I was 10 again, and wow, I felt what she was talking about.   I forgot how December used to feel like half a year, and that overwhelming anticipation to see what gifts would be under the tree. Stella was so sick, she had her brother open her presents for her.  Her disappointment sank in for the both of us and even I shed a tear or two.  Then we talked about how fun it will be to go through all the gifts together once she was better and it will feel like Christmas morning all over again.

This is the good stuff.  This is real life.  Being present in the chaos of everyday life means I can slow the hell down.  Push pause.  Change the entire scene if I need to.  All the other shit doesn’t matter in the long run.  Not who I used to be, not what it’s “supposed” to look like now.  It’s definitely an inside job, and one I can hopefully pass on to these kids.  I used to endlessly pray for a do-over… maybe God is giving it to me, after all.