Holiday Links for Stressed Mamas
posted by Amy

December, with the shopping and the family celebrations and the traditions and the school holiday performances, can wear me down. I've learned the hard way (really, have I ever learned any other way?) not to plan too much. I was the kid who cried at every one of my own birthday parties for years because nothing could have ever lived up to my expectations, and my first few Christmases as a parent were similar.

Now I try to think about all the things I want to do for the holidays, cut that list in half, and then plan to do about HALF of that list. Maybe. And I don't make announcements to the kids about what we'll be doing. If it happens, yay. If not, I'm the only one who knows it was even on the list.

It helps, in an odd way, that my job as a teacher is particularly time-consuming right before Christmas. I'll be grading portfolios right up until December 21, so if I'm taking time from that to do something holiday-related, it better leave me feeling refreshed and joyful. If not, it's a tradition I can do without. (Edited to add: Hey! Those essays from my Hmong students I've been reading for the past two years? The New York Times has plagiarized them. I know many people who will be thrilled that this story is getting front page treatment.)

This is the to-do list I can get on board with. (Lori's got another post about why she's not taking the handmade pledge this year which I love, too. If I could build a Wii game myself, I would. But I so can't.)

Finally, if you're desperately looking for the perfect gift for a mama you love, Brain,Child magazine is always a good choice. I'm particularly loving "The Quiet Years: Fade to Teenhood" by Kristen Kovacic in the current issue. (While some articles are accessible online, this one isn't.) "Things get really quiet," Kovacic writes. "The kids become secretive, closing the doors to their rooms as thoughtlessly as they once climbed into your lap....Most noticeably, other parents stop their happy babble."

(Hmm...that doesn't sound particularly happy and holidayish, does it? But it sure sounds familiar to me, and that's comforting--knowing I'm not alone as I go into this world of parenting a teen.)