We all make mistakes as moms. We all find ourselves in big messes at one point or another. I have always felt called to encourage other moms in their mess by sharing my mess.
These two royal mess-ups involved magical childhood tales being unraveled and me being caught red-handed.
At our house, we wrapped gifts from Santa in a special wrapping paper. My daughters always knew which gifts came from us and which came from Santa by the paper. It was always fun on Christmas morning to see them rifling through their gifts, calling out who they were from. My kids were pretty young, so I stored the special wrapping paper in a basement closet.
Then one day, my daughter needed something from the closet. I took her down there to find it. When we opened the closet door, there was the Santa paper. She looked at it, then she looked at me. Her eyes were wide and she said, “MOM???”
I just died laughing.
I was so surprised and caught off guard that I could do nothing but laugh. Obviously, I was busted. Santa was no more for her. Later, we talked about the spirit of St. Nicholas, and she got to become a part of “magic” until we let her sister in on it.
The Tooth Fairy
When my kids lost teeth, I did the normal thing. I snuck into their rooms late at night, took the tooth, and left money behind. One night when I was particularly tired, I grabbed the tooth and dropped it in my bedside table drawer as I fell back into bed. A few days later, my daughter came to me with the tooth. She wanted to know how it got in there and if I was the tooth fairy. This time I was not caught off guard, so I lied. Right through my teeth.
Thus, Tootheteena was invented.
I told my daughter that Tootheteena, her tooth fairy, had asked me to help her out because she couldn’t make it that night and she didn’t want my daughter to be disappointed.
She seemed skeptical; so, I doubled down.
During my planning period that day, I gathered some teacher friends and crafted a letter to my daughter from Tootheteena. Tootheteena explained she had been caught in the North Pole helping Santa because the elves had eaten too much candy and had gotten sugar bugs. She said that she had asked me to help her out so that my daughter would not have to wait. Tootheteena then asked my daughter to put the tooth back where it was so she could come by and pick it up on her way back from the North Pole.
My daughter bought it hook, line, and sinker.
These are just two times that I have found myself in a monumentally messy place as a mom. They are two instances where I may or may not have made the best choice when confronted with a challenge. Believe me, there are many more!
I share these because as we head into the Christmas season, many of us are feeling the pressure to make it magical or special. We might be feeling that there is only one formula for creating those magical and special moments. Maybe we believe that perfection (even if we wouldn’t use that word) is the key to success. We could be feeling guilty for lying to our kids, or hoping the magic lasts just a little longer. Essentially, we may feel stressed about how we are messing up our kids with our version of Christmas.
Despite my two big mess-ups, and many more, my kids are happy and healthy.
These few holiday weeks have the potential to create magical memories, and that is a wonderful thing. But I want to encourage you that the time we spend with our kids, just listening and being with them, connecting and laughing together, will shape them so much more than the experiences we manufacture with Christmas spirit and magic. And unlike holiday spirit, we can do these things all year long.
I want to take it a step further.
Not only is there no magic formula, there is no one right or wrong thing that will make or break our kids. Parenting is so deep and nuanced that there is no one guaranteed way to create a “perfect product.” Even though we know this as moms, don’t we all secretly search for it? Aren’t we often searching for a magical formula that will ensure we will present to the world well-mannered, compassionate, successful, and well-liked adults?
Let’s remind ourselves, yet again, that perfect formula doesn’t exist. For most of us, success as parents is found in the small interactions we have daily with our kids. One-off events alone don’t shape them. It’s our steady presence, support, and guidance that will shape who our kids become. So, let’s all try to take some of the pressure off ourselves and enjoy this season!