Actually, if I'm going to associate enjoyment of the holidays with an animal name, I'd have to say the holidays are for the kids. In case you didn't spend a good chunk of your childhood reading books about zoology, "kid" is a term for a baby goat.
Back to my original point. With the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and the trimming of the family Christmas tree in my rear-view, it is clear that the bulk of my personal holiday enjoyment is behind me as well. The truth is, once you have children, it's really not about you anymore at least until you have grandchildren.
Thursday Was Nice
The wife, the kids and I awoke around 6:45, which is customary in our household. We ate breakfast and spent some time getting the kids cleaned up so they could be presentable. We headed over the river and through the woods - really, it was more like over the Mississippi River and up 35E - to my Grandma's house. There, we were joined by aunts, uncles, cousins, and the like. We enjoyed a 1 p.m. meal of turkey, ham, and all the sides one would expect.
Yes. Ham. I'm 32 years old and don't have to eat turkey anymore. Not only is it fowl, it's foul.
Then Came Black Friday
Since I view Black Friday shopping as an activity reserved for those lacking moral character and self-respect, the day-after-Thanksgiving is actually a pretty relaxing day in my household. At least it used to be prior to the arrival of our two bundles of joy. Speaking of the boys, one of them stayed over at my Mom and Dad's Thursday night so it was the wife, the baby and I for most of Friday. We began the day by grabbing breakfast at the local diner before spending the rest of the day handing the baby back and forth in between his naps.
The Saturday Slog
By Saturday, keeping up with the needs of an 8-month-old and the whims of a 3-year-old was beginning to take its toll, at least on me. It doesn't help that due to a combination of teething, night terrors and sleep-regression, the little one isn't yet sleeping the night.
I spent some time removing the display of gourds and hay bales from the front steps and wrapped the trunks of some of my younger trees to prevent the possibility of sun-scald this winter. It bought me 20 minutes to myself, although I shared some of that time with the large colony of Boxelder bugs that had set up shop under the bales these past two months.
Sunday Bloody Sunday
There actually wasn't any blood, although I did get a couple drops of berry pie filling on my sweatshirt after church.
By Sunday I was completely devoid of emotional reserves, patience, and the ability to complete basic tasks like untangling strands of lights without wanting to scream. As a result, I took frequent breaks from decorating the tree in order to spend some time recharging my introverted batteries. During one of these breaks I once again scrubbed every surface in the downstairs bathroom, trying to remove the persistent smell of urine that has made itself at home there since the 3-year-old decided it's more fun to stand up. Fun? Yes. Accurate? No.
At some point after dinner, my wife asked me what I thought about the weekend being almost over. It dawned on me that I was actually looking forward to Monday, because going back to work seems like a break compared to being with both kids all-day for nearly four days. I spent a couple hours after that moping about how bad of a person and parent I am for thinking that way. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids and would do anything for them, but sometimes I just need some peace and quiet, or a little time to sit on the couch without immediately being summoned to do something.
After I helped the 3-year-old brush his teeth and read Fox in Socks, I asked him if he had fun decorating the tree. "Yes. Tree was fun." He said his favorite ornament was his new Spider-Man ornament. I gave him a hug and asked him if he had a nice weekend. "Yes." I asked him if he was ready to play with his friends at daycare on Monday. "Yeah. Daddy, are you going to pick me up tomorrow? I like it when you pick me up."
There it was. That's why I do it. The diapers, the early wake-ups, the urine scrubbing, the constant picking up of toys, and even the decorating. I do it because at the end of the day the little wieners enjoy it and they even like me for some reason. The Holiday season may be just another list of to-dos for me, but it can still be a magical time for the kids.
My hope is that sharing this will help other parents realize they're not alone in occasionally losing it or just wanting some time for themselves; that parents who only post the highlights to social media are lying, just curating moments that paint the perfect picture of a happy home life.
My fear is that I'm wrong and that sharing this is only exposing how ill-equipped I am for parenthood.
My suspicion is that my hope is accurate and my fear is unfounded.
What do you think?