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The Holidays Are Coming: What That Means For Parents

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I have some alarming information, you guys. Is everyone sitting down for this? Have a seat, pour a drink, lather your entire torso in CBD ointment or whatever the kids are using these days.

In approximately two months, it will be 2022. Let that sink in for a second.

Is that mind blowing for anyone else? I still remember the end of 2019 as if it were yesterday. I was getting over one of the worst cases of the flu of my lifetime (or was it actually the RONA??? Yes, I probably definitely had the rona… says every single person who had a cold in the second half of 2019.) Also, I was pregnant, so that surely didn’t help things. Just as I got over the flu, 2020 rudely rolled in bringing with it news of Kobe Bryant and his daughter’s tragic deaths. As a pregnant hormonal lady with two children and chronic health/death anxiety, I was NOT OKAY. I couldn’t stop thinking about Kobe’s horrifying last moments with his daughter. I even told Barton I needed therapy to get over it.

But here’s a little secret: the better (and cheaper!) way to get over a tragedy like that is just to move on to the next overwhelmingly distressing issue that keeps you up at night and makes you wish you did hard drugs. Lucky for me, I had a wonderful contender for that: Coronavirus!

Side note: I kind of want to say “I told you so” to everyone in my life, but I realize that’s childish and petty of me. So I’m going to type it instead: I told you so. Let me explain.

I tried to warn everyone about COVID, but no one listened. On Valentine’s Day night 2020, I remember sitting there googling the latest Coronavirus news out of China and just crying the rest of the entire evening. (I really know how to sex up a February 14th, eh?? Bow-chicka-bow-wow, babe. Now can you hand me a tissue to soak up this mix of tears and snot running down my chin?)

I was 100% convinced the virus was going to make its way over to the US—and quickly—and I was so confused but mainly horrified by the fact that none of my friends or family were worried or concerned or in the fetal position weeping violently about it on Valentine’s Day. I went around warning everyone within a two-mile radius of me of the impending doom that was coming for us all, and I spent my nights fervently researching this frightening foreign foe. Everyone told me I was crazy (a claim which would normally hold up fantastically in any other frantic situation I’m panicking about, but NOT THIS ONE, you guys).

When it finally began to hit here, I took matters into my own hands trying to save us all. Barton kept yelling at me, “Hayley, you don’t have to solve Coronavirus! You are not the head of the CDC!” Maybe, just maybe, he was right… (*me looking far out into the distance at nothing in particular*) …but I couldn’t take that chance. So I foraged on, fighting the good fight, soaking my family’s extremities in sanitizer and feeling prudently proud and wise beyond my 32 years that I spent several extra months worrying unnecessarily about Coronavirus before it actually became a real, tangible problem in the US!

Anyways, cut to today and we all know how the COVID story turned out. We trucked on through 2020 and somehow made it to 2021. We parents, specifically, survived schools being in and out (and in and out), and somehow made it through another long, hot summer full of our spawn yelling at us that they’re bored every 11 seconds as we are sweating our asses off at the pool and buying them their seventh snow cone and figuring out how to hide our flask of tequila under the beach towel so the 16-year-old lifeguard won’t strip us of the only joy we have left. (If you missed my summer survival guide, bookmark it now for next year.)

But this is not a piece about COVID. Lord knows I do not want to open that can of polarizing, PTSD-inducing worms. No, this is a piece about what looms before us now as we near the end of 2021…

The holidays are back again.

It’s no secret that most people have a love/hate relationship with the holiday season. If you’re a parent, as I am, this sentiment rings even more true. So as the daunting (but exciting, but daunting AF) task of getting through the holidays with kids emerges on the horizon, I’m explaining what it REALLY means for us parents.

Halloween: This is the holiday where you start off naively excited about things. Fall is in the air, the weather is turning crisp, cheery pumpkins are on every corner. You’re feeling fresh and ready to dive into the festivities head first. You beat the rush and got all your kids’ costumes early, planning every detail out to a T. You bought a haunted gingerbread house with plans to construct it together as a family while listening to “Monster Mash” and telling spooky stories. You plan out your Halloween Movie Marathon Month and watch a new scary movie every night huddled under blankets. Life is good, you think; this year the holidays are going to be different.

But as the main event finally approaches, things take a dark, yet familiar turn. After being downright ecstatic about their costume all month, your kid suddenly no longer wants anything to do with the intricate character you had planned for him. So you find yourself on your laptop at 2 am with beads of sweat rolling down your furrowed brow, searching for a last-minute back up costume you’ll end up paying $72 to get rush-delivered in time for trick or treating. The haunted gingerbread house walls didn’t stick together with the stupid f**king frosting they expect houses to be built with and you spent the entire time cursing the crumbling exterior while your kids ate all of the candy decorations and then complained of a stomachache all night. And the scary movies majorly backfired, because every night your kids are taking turns getting into you and your spouse’s bed and sleeping with their feet wedged in between your ribs, claiming they’ve had nightmares from the movies you made them watch. (The movie was called Spooky Buddies! and was about a pack of adorable golden retriever puppies trick-or-treating dressed up as puppy ghosts—you need to get your shit together, Liam.)

Also, it’s important to add that you didn’t even really get to enjoy Halloween because all anyone is yelling about these days is how you have to get all of your Christmas shopping done NOW because all the toys are going to run out this year or something. And every aisle at Target is already loaded with Christmas decorations when it’s still 87 degrees outside and that fills you with inexplicable rage that you should probably see a counselor about.

Thanksgiving: You’ve recovered a little bit after the chaotic blood sugar spike known as Halloween, and now you’re moving on to the calmer, less exciting, sometimes-forgotten middle child of the holidays: Thanksgiving. For parents of small children, this holiday mainly just consists of volunteering to supply some sort of potluck dish for your kids’ Thanksgiving school parties, and then forgetting the night before and buying a pack of hotdog buns at the gas station on the way to school.

Maybe you’ll make a turkey by tracing your kid’s hand or tell them all you’ll bake a pie together (disclaimer: I do NOT condone baking with kids. Ever. Anyone who says it’s fun and enjoyable is a dirty liar.) But you’ll mainly just spend this month cleaning up moldy, mushy pumpkins off your porch, trying to detox your family’s bodies from the masses of candy corn you’ve all injected into your bloodstreams and mildly panicking about the impending days (and days… and days…) your kids are about to be off from school.

Also, you still cannot enjoy this holiday because now, even more so, people are screaming at you at the top of their lungs that you have to have every morsel of your Christmas shopping done by this point, and then they begin shaming you if you haven’t. Oh, I almost forgot: it all culminates with you eating your feelings by gorging on turkey and dressing and getting too drunk off of pecan pie martinis while your extended family debates whether or not masks should still be worn in schools.

Christmas: You’ve gained upwards of 12 pounds at this point, but the stress is still palpable so the calories are still flowing. You waited too long to buy your kids the gifts they really wanted, and now everything is backordered so you settle for a stripper-looking doll wearing fishnet leggings and the word “Bae” written on her crop-top shirt because it’s the only thing Target had left. Any gifts you DID have early, you wrapped in pretty paper and bows and put under the tree but that was a huge waste of time because your small child already ripped into it five minutes afterwards while you were taking a shower.

There are countless school Christmas parties and ornament exchange parties and cookie decorating parties, which are fun but exhausting, and even your insatiable kids are getting a little burnt and sugared out. But you cannot show any signs of weakness; you see a light at the end of the tunnel and you’ll be damned if you crumble now.

And don’t forget waiting for two hours in a line at the mall with small children to see Santa, just so they can sob in his lap for 30 seconds and you can pay $45 for a photo of it. (But you get a small, blurry magnet photo of it too, so it’s worth it, obviously.)

But hey, you aren’t Scrooge! The hustle and bustle is honestly fun at points and you really DO have some Christmas spirit—until you’re faced with the aftermath of three kids opening 456,789 presents on Christmas morning, and your living room looks like a rainbow-colored landfill. And an hour later, the kids are asking to watch their iPads because (you guessed it), they’re bored. Time to get drunk on mistletoe martinis now.

New Year’s Eve: You’ve almost made it! If you’re like me, you ripped all your decorations down the day after Christmas (FEELS SO GOOD) and your life is showing signs of resuming a semblance of normalcy again after these three crazy months. You buy a bunch of celebratory headgear for your kids that says “Happy New Year!!” in sparkly letters and you’re trying to get into the festive spirit, but all you can think about is “how is it already 2022 when I can’t even process the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual trauma I endured in 2020?”

You quiet those distressing thoughts with cheap champagne while your kids do a fake “ball drop” at 6 pm while you make your New Year’s Resolution list consisting of things like “be a better parent” and “make self-care a priority,” and in the moment you really admire your delusional optimism — you really do.

You and your spouse fall asleep on the couch at 9:30 pm while debating whether Ryan Seacrest is gay or not and laughing maniacally about the resolutions you made, and you wake up in 2022.

Written by Hayley Simmons

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