“What should I write about??” I ask my husband. He shrugs, absently. Pax spares me the briefest of glances. “I dunno…Mom….” his voice trailing off as he gets absorbed back into his game.
I stomp around, annoyed by being ignored. When no one looks up I demand, “WELL? SERIOUSLY?” Three startled pairs of eyes look at me. “No one has ANY ideas??”
Pax rolls his eyes, Raines — for an instant — looks confused (then wisely wanders away), and Mike (MIKE!) starts chuckling. “Is writer’s block like stages of grief?” He asks. “Cause you’re in stage ANGRY.”
I am reminded of our recent family Zoom call. After a few minutes of small talk, my brother stared at us through the screen. “Well…” he said. “We see no one else, we go nowhere, we do nothing…so after this many months of quarantine I have absolutely nothing new to offer. No amusing anecdotes, no news, no…nothing.” He sipped his drink. “You?”
Same, big brother, SAME.
But it is December, which means — historically — that it’s time for my yearly existential crisis. The one where I’m being crushed by the weight of my own expectations and the bustle and stress of the year. The one where I’m confused (so confused!!) by how different our holiday reality is now compared to that of my childhood (even pre-pandemic), the yearly crisis that typically ends with me Vowing To Be More Mindful and Intentional In The New Year.
Yup. It’s time for that.
But my sister’s face half-froze this week (Bell’s Palsy from…stress? They think?) and one of my friends just finished 22 rounds of chemo, which is more of an emotional and physical toll I can possibly imagine, the pandemic is still raging and we are still living in the same America where over 50% of white women willingly voted for a racist, misogynistic, unscrupulous, wanna-be king intent on the downfall of democracy (don’t @ me you know it’s true) and I do not have the…time? energy? for a proper mope. Instead, I find myself fed up with my own bullshit.
But in all seriousness, in an attempt to arrest my (annoyingly predictable) December downward spiral — I mean seriously, what am I modeling for my kids?? — I remember an old article I had read about What Kids Really Need.
It’s totally worth a read, but to summarize: Our kids need, quite simply, for us to show up.
So. Despite the stress and my consistently unrealistic expectations of life (the curse of a wild imagination, I think)…I am going to try and focus — for the rest of December — on just…showing up.
To me, this means spending some of my time in a way that fosters connection, fosters joy. Making everyone a rushed dinner when I’m starving isn’t what I’m talking about (although I get that it’s necessary)…but it does mean that when Raines starts talking about his tanks, I’ll put my phone down and listen. (Ugh — Tank Talk is so boring, but maybe I can ask him to draw tanks with me while he talks — win/win for everyone.)
My goal is to carve out some time (even the tiniest bit of time) once a day to give my guys some undivided attention. To do something together that we love, something that makes us feel more connected. A goal that can be accomplished simply by paying attention and…showing up.
Let’s maybe keep that bar real low, this December. 2021 can’t come soon enough.
Oh, riiiiiiiight. I bought — and then returned — many pairs of snow boots for Raines over the last month. Forever picky about clothes, he found something wrong with each of them. Finally, I ordered the biggest kid size (sob!) of these UGG Butte boots, a pair I remember him wearing when he was tiny. “MOM, THANK YOU!!” he gushed. “I was wondering why you didn’t buy these anymore!!!!” He was so effusive, I slipped my foot into his pair. Um. They are lined in fleece, shockingly warm, and now we each have a pair. (Here’s mine — actually, I’m wearing them in the opening pic — they’re surprisingly cute.)
40% off at Anthro. I’m eyeing up this giant pom hat (it looks like a current version of the red one I bought two years ago), with these mittens and mayyyybe even this shorts loungewear set. I’d wear the loungewear with these leg warmers. (Random, but my favorite AGoldE denim shorts are also on sale.)
Not the only one…I received a couple of emails from readers on Friday, alerting us to the fact that Naadam’s sustainable cashmere is back on sale. (Thanks, Guys!) There’s so much to love, but I’ve been wearing the heck out of this boatneck sweater, and this brown waffle knit is one of Mike’s favs.
Thursday night plans? Come hang out — I’m going to be on the Momtourage live podcast! I’m so excited — the hosts, Ashley & Keri (formerly of Scary Mommy Speaks) are tons of fun (self-proclaimed ‘mommy group rejects’) — it should be a good time. The podcast streams live (in video, too) at 9PM EST.
Zoom holiday party? In our Sunday night newsletter, the TME team is pulling together outfits for our upcoming zoom holiday party, if interested. If you haven’t yet subscribed, we’d love to have you.
Art prompts? I’m a huge fan of Tinkerlab, and her latest book, Art Starts, is such a handy one (also at Independent bookstores). The book contains 52 projects for open-ended art exploration. Tinkerlab’s IG account was a saving grace when my boys were younger, and I used her ‘art starts’ almost daily (and eventually could create my own). This book is geared to younger kids, but, truth be told, most of her projects are so open-ended that if I set one up now and walked away…I’d return to find my boys working away. There’s also a section on how to best organize art supplies, and introduce these ‘art starts’ to kids. Highly recommend.
Hot cocoa for crazy kids. Pax is….shall we say…caffeine sensitive. If the kid has hot chocolate after school…he’ll be both crazy and up ALL NIGHT. I’ve started making peppermint steamers instead. I warm milk (ours is non-dairy) with a bit of sugar, peppermint extract, and serve it up like hot cocoa. The secret? These insanely delicious Smashmallow peppermint marshmallows. SO GOOD.
I DON’T KNOW WHO NEEDS TO HEAR THIS, BUT: Love, Actually, is decidedly NOT a kid’s movie. We were going to watch it this weekend with the boys, until my brother reminded us: That scene? With the, um…porn? Riiiiiight.
That’s it! We have a night of popcorn and champagne planned, with a little old movie watching (in place of Love, Actually). My boys are huge White Christmas fans, and we might be adding Holiday Inn into the mix. Has anyone seen it? Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby…I think I watched it with my Grandmother eons ago, but can’t remember a darn thing.
Cheers to keeping that bar LOW.