I have failed my children miserably and I’m having a difficult time moving past it and forgiving myself.
Let me explain ~
I’m not much of a tradition person. A severe lack of family will do that to a person I think. There is one thing, however, that I have done year after year, without fail, since my children were born.
Purchase a custom ornament for the Christmas tree.
Now it may seem silly and a waste of money, but it is something that I take great delight in. My heart skips a beat when I see the mall kiosk open up towards the end of October because I know it’s THAT TIME again. Time to decide which activities or personality traits of my wonderful family I plan on immortalizing in an ornament with their name and date on it for all eternity.
See, my grandmother started this tradition with the Hallmark ornaments for me. Every year, regardless of what else (or nothing else) was under the tree for me, there was always an ornament. Once my oldest daughter was born, those ornaments shifted from me to her, and they have been carefully packed away every year in their original container, with names and dates on them so they can be passed on when the kids are adults. My grandmother started my tree out with a few of my childhood ornaments as well as some of her most precious ones that I remember, and that was always the intent of my purchases. A keepsake of their childhoods to look back upon and smile when unwrapped once a year.
Now that I’ve given you the back story I can explain my massive failure.
I didn’t do it this year.
Somewhere along the way, the holiday season got the best of me and I threw my hands in the air. We didn’t decorate outside; we barely got a tree up this year. But surely I would make time to get the ornaments?
Dropped the ball.
The custom ornament company has even made it easy for me – I’m on their mailing list. They send me a catalog that has been sitting on my desk for three months. I’m actually looking at it as I write this post. And nothing. I couldn’t get my shit together enough to get it done. I didn’t even have to leave the house, and still nothing. Even now, weeks after the holidays have come and gone, the catalog still sits on my desk, holding out hope that I will open it and scramble AFTER the fact. Just to create the appearance of not screwing up the tradition.
I imagine my children sitting around as adults with their family, getting ready to decorate their own trees. As they unpack and lay out all of their favorite childhood ornaments, they wonder what happened to 2016. “Did we lose it?” “What was wrong with Mom that she didn’t get it?” “Didn’t she love us enough to make sure we had a complete set?” “What were we doing then because we can’t remember without a twelve dollar ornament with our name and the year on it!!!”
This is the story that is playing in my head, and the guilt is crushing me. I wish that I was kidding, but sadly I am not. In reality, the kids don’t even realize that they didn’t get an ornament this year because we didn’t put ANY ornaments on the tree. Remember I said I barely got one up? Yep, it had lights and the angel on it. Oh, it did have two ornaments on it because I had purchased them while traveling throughout the year and they were sitting within reach of my desk. But that’s it.
No, this is all in my head. The mom guilt. The story we tell ourselves about how we are not good enough and don’t do enough, or just not enough of the right things and how we are SOCLOSE that if we just made more effort, gave a little more, got less sleep, did more for them and less for ourselves then we would succeed and not be such a failure. . . . .
I say “we” because I don’t feel like I am alone in this insanity. It might not be a Christmas ornament, but SOMETHING is rolling around in your head, pummeling the inside of your brain and your heart for no good reason. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can we, as mothers, not just move on like everyone else does and instead carry an elephant of guilt and failure around with us, crushing us bit by bit? I ask this as a genuine question and I hope, dear readers, that you have an answer because I have none. I just know that it feels like crap – the inability to throw away the ornament catalog and move on (so to speak) – and I’d really like to figure out how to make it stop.