The Startling Truth About Being a Mom During the Holidays

This is my A-game. A day late, a penny short, a little frosting on the back of that card.
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Confession: I just clicked "order" on my family's holiday cards. Well after Hanukkah and less than two weeks before Christmas? You bet. And when, out of curiosity, I checked when I got this task done last year, I saw that it was almost exactly the same timing, almost down to the date. Which is to say, there is absolutely nothing new about how last-minute this holiday purchase of mine is.

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When I finished addressing our cards last year, Jason snapped a picture of the moment and I wrote about it, because it felt momentous and I felt triumphant. What a big job to complete amidst holiday shopping and wrapping and baking and mothering and working.

In the photo, I can see that it was a candle-lighting, eggnog-drinking, music-playing kind of night. I sat at the only corner of our kitchen table that wasn't covered with holiday relics, scraped frosting off the edge, and filled and folded and stamped.

To my left, Brody signed cards for his teacher gifts. Marker held kindergarten-firm between fingers that I daresay are now becoming a whole lot less pudgy and are instead slightly thinner, longer, stronger, older.

Across from us, Chloe was making cards for the kids' joint teachers. At her feet, our puppy, Parker, was chewing on the bone I had bought him the day before to have as his gift that night.

After capturing my triumph, Jason went to the store to tie up loose ends on last-minute gifts in between Kayli's volleyball pick-up and drop-off.

All of this happened on the third night of Hanukkah, the night before the kids' winter break, and six days before Christmas Eve? Yes. Yes, it did.

And you should know that this year, I did not learn from my mistakes, change things dramatically, or beat myself up for any of the above.

This is my A-game.

A day late, a penny short, a little frosting on the back of that card.

Last year, my To Do list started out overwhelmingly long before the holidays ever started, and I was so very proud when I whittled it down. Not because I was crazy-efficient or because I got more done than I expected, but because I did get things done. That's my A-game now.

I don't always know what time practice starts (or ends); my email inbox is never empty; some things move from one week's To Do list to the next's; I forget that I put chicken in the oven until somebody asks where it is; I wonder why no one is moving an activity along until I remember that I'm the one who is hosting it; I have three bottles of dill in my spice cabinet but just ran out of onion powder.

I've come to realize that this is who I am. But more importantly, I've become (more than) OK with it. And even more importantly than that? This means that I'm able to give those around me the gentle benefit of the doubt that they're using their A-game, too.

So you with the tree that has been decorated since Thanksgiving and the candles that were tucked away for weeks before Hanukkah started and the gifts that are planned and wrapped and ready and have been for a while now; and you, the burnt cookie maker and the gift forgetter and the last-minute onion powder buyer -- I see and like and appreciate both of you and your A-games.

May we all be gentle with ourselves and those around us, and may we all ooh and ahh at every single one of our "perfect" A-games.

This post first appeared on Galit's blog, These Little Waves. Galit's book, Kindness Wins, is a simple, no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. Giving ourselves and each other the benefit of the doubt that we are all doing our best is a big part of this.