Picture this: I was in New York City, with my two daughters, single moms, it’s winter time and the seasonal expectations were weighing heavy on my shoulder. I was too busy working to support my girls that I was not on top of planning gifts, dinner, etc. I’ll admit, it’s not a fun feeling when you feel like you aren’t fulfilling the expectations of motherhood. I mean, it’s it up to us, as parents, to start and uphold family traditions.
We weren’t going back home for the holidays because financial times were tight and who can afford 3 round-trip tickets and Christmas gifts in the same month? Not me, not then at least.
Well, the whole experience of the holidays away from family, by myself with just my girls, got me thinking and doing some internal reflection. What’s stopping me from being happy right now? Yes, that Christmas was different than every other in my life, that’s 35 years, but so what. Can’t we always make a choice on how we want to enjoy our lives?
What I realized is that I had society to blame for my (temporary) bad mood. Ha! Just playing, but not really. I did start to realize that all these seasonal expectations…fly home, eat dinner with family, buy gifts for everyone, have a tree….all of these things are societal norms. Expectations that we were raised with but don’t necessarily have to own, especially if it doesn’t fit in our life.
For goodness sake! Was the magic of the holiday season showing my daughter what mommy looks like totally freaking out? No!
And it’s when we as moms fall short of these norms that we can start feel inadequate and down right sad.
So, what I decided to do was, ditch the formalities. We didn’t have a real tree. We had a cute little tinsel tree from Target. It kept the toddlers safe and my mind at ease. I didn’t cook a 7 course meal; I ordered food from the local grocer. Done and done. And we didn’t do a lot of gift exchanging. We went to a neighbor’s house and just laughed together while the kids ran around.
Seeing our blessings is the point of the holiday season. Not running ourselves ragged trying to live up to the expectations of others and society.
I considered this “ditching” a step of personal growth. I had to chose happiness for myself and not let others or society take it away.
My question to you is: When have you and your family ditched the formality of the holiday season/holiday traditions and just had a blast?
*This post was completely inspired by Chicago’s Children Museum and their current warm winter family fun programming, where families are invited to answer questions about traditions and experience fun activities with their children. Plan your visit today at http://www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org.