Today was St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday I had completely forgotten about until Jafta stumbled into the living room at about 11:30pm last night while we were watching SNL. “Can I help you guys hide the gold coins?” he asked. The WHAT? “The gold coins. I know the leprechauns aren’t real. I know it’s you, like Santa. So I want to help you. I can make the leprechaun trap, too.”
We told Jafta to go to bed and then looked at each other with exasperation. Gold coins? A leprechaun trap? Is he serious? When I was a kid we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing something green. THE END. I had noticed that over the past few years, our kids were getting some grander ideas from school. But I didn’t think that we needed to replicate these experiences at home.
Apparently, the children believed that we did.
All of them woke up and came into our room like it was Christmas morning.
Did a leprechaun visit?
Can we search for him?
Did he leave a pot of gold?
Let’s go find the gold coins!
I bet he left chocolate!
So. Many. Expectations.
All of which were dashed.
I had four seriously disappointed and grumpy kids on my hands. At one point India went into full-blown meltdown mode, kicking random items in her room and yelling about what a LAME HOLIDAY this was.
And in my overly-tired impatient state, I might have yelled back, “YOU’RE RIGHT. This IS a lame holiday. It was never my favorite. All we did was wear green. That’s all we’re doing today. I’m sorry if you do more at school. That’s not what we do here. I don’t know where you are hearing this stuff but it’s not happening here.”
People. St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be a “phone-it-in” holiday. Yes, I’ve turned into a bit of a grinch, but SERIOUSLY WITH THE HOLIDAY OVERKILL. As if Christmas wasn’t already hard enough as a parent, someone also decided that we have to move an Elf around every day, into creative tableaus? And then someone else decided that the Advent Calendar was A Thing beyond a simple religious observation and now involves some kind of gift each day leading up to Christmas?
And less than a month after having survived that whole mess, we’ve got Valentine’s Day which has became The New Halloween, because God forbid you send a simple store-bought card. You’d better include some candy or your child will be shunned. Shunned! One of my kids came home with not just a candy from each class, but a WHOLE FREAKING GOODIE BAG from each student.
Hey, overachieving parent who started this goodie bag trend . . . I’ve got a message for you. It’s a homemade Valentine card that Karis made. I’d originally pulled it out of the rotation, but I’d like to use it now.
And then, I think I’ve got a break for a month BUT NO. Surprise! We’ve got 100 Days of School to celebrate. And by “celebrate” I mean the kids sticking 100 things on a hat. And by “the kids” I mean me.
And suddenly Pi Day is a thing? My children expect to be served pie because someone at school told them so? And Dr. Suess’s birthday and Johnny Appleseed Day . . . all things I didn’t even know existed but am now being asked how we’ll be celebrating at home.
And do not even get me started on what Easter has become. When I was a kid my mom went to the store and bought us a new dress and a pre-made plastic Easter basket for $8.99. THE END. There was candy and we loved it. Maybe we would die some eggs from a kit sitting in the check-out lane at Target. They would look like crap.
Now we’ve got to leave footprints from the Easter Bunny and make artful, Pinterest-worthy eggs with stencils and ikat prints and probably some that are hombre.
I don’t like the feeling of disappointing my kids. But I refuse to give into this holiday overkill. I’m overwhelmed enough as it is. Today I gave all of my kids a bath. We read with each of them for the recommended 20 minutes. We reviewed our Math Facts. We practiced guitar. We sat together at the table and ate a meal that was NOT procured at a drive-thru. We played outside. Most days, I’m struggling to achieve all these things. I can’t have these haphazard, once-monthly overblown holidays take over my life. I can go big for Christmas and Easter. That’s all I can handle.
But I can’t do this alone. Fellow parents . . . teachers . . . sunday school workers . . . I beseech you. BRING IT DOWN A NOTCH. Y’all are setting up expectations that I just can’t maintain. Wouldn’t we all be just a little happier if we returned to the slacker days of store-bought valentines and kit-dyed eggs and JUST WEARING A GREEN SHIRT AND CALLING IT A DAY?
For the sake of overwhelmed parents like me, I beg you. Stop the madness.
Obviously this post has struck a nerve with many of you . . . according to my stat counter, about one out of every four readers shared this on facebook, so I guess I’m not alone in my overwhelm. But some commenters have taken offense, so I want to add some clarification: I am not judging what other moms do in their home or asking that everyone stop celebrating/crafting/creating in whatever way they find fulfilling. You like doing Elf on the Shelf? Great! Knock yourself out. I’m not trying to tear you down. This post was about what's being presented in public - at school, church, etc. I'm not passing judgment but rather sharing my own process. It wasn't an "us vs. them" but more of a collective plea that we all (myself included) simplify a bit in terms of what we do in public spaces. This wasn’t about finger-pointing at a certain demographic of moms (with the exception of the inventor of the goodie bag WHICH WAS A JOKE), but more of a “we’re all in this together, let’s simplify!” manifesto. Trust me, I have been prime offender at going overboard. (Obnoxious homemade Valentines? Guilty as charged!) Please don't read this as another mommy war because that wasn't the intention. I don't care what other moms do at home - just sharing my exasperation at the expectations that my kids have based on the things presented to them in our culture. Ultimately this was a critique of American culture, not of other mothers. This post was meant to be a funny, sarcastic lament OF MY OWN LIFE, heavy on the sarcasm and hyperbole. If it doesn't resonate, no big deal. If you are feeling offended, that wasn’t my intent. But it might be wise to consider why the offense is there, and in what ways we all (myself included) might be contributing to a culture in which mothers feel like the need to “do more” is distracting from the main event: quality time with our kids.