Christmas Eve morning, I was sleeping, my man was out Christmas shopping and the kid was watching cartoons in my room. I nodded in and out trying to catch as much sleep as I could while “listening” out for the kid. I woke up and she wasn’t in my room. The house was too quiet. My Mommy senses were tingling. I dragged myself out of bed and went looking for her. I found my 5 year old in our guest room, elbow deep in a Toys R Us bag playing with her Christmas gifts.
I wish I’d laughed. I wish I’d laughed and shooed her away from the bags. I wish I’d grabbed her hand and reminded her how nice it is to be surprised on Christmas morning. I wish I’d shared stories of the years I searched for and found my gifts and had to pretend to be surprised Christmas morning. I wish I had taken her hand and climbed in my bed with her and watched cartoons. I wish I was writing a post where we would laugh about bad hiding places for gifts and how kids will always look. I wish.
I did none of that.
I did this.
I spazzed. I was angry. I was so angry. Angry at her Dad for not hiding the gifts better. I was angry that the surprise was discovered before I was ready. Angry that the bag of gifts that I saw her in contained the “secret gifts.” The one my doubtful little girl didn’t tell Santa about. The ones she whispered that she wanted when she was alone in her room because, “Santa is supposed to be watching right Mommy?” I was so angry. I had gotten both of those secret gifts with money I didn’t have to give her maybe one more year of “belief.” I was mad Mommy.
My voice boomed at her. Her little body jumped. The smile that had been on her face as she discovered her toys died abruptly. Her eyes filled with tears. That didn’t stop me. I kept yelling. Even as I saw her body jerk with each word. Even as her tears turned in to full blown sobbing I kept yielding that stupid ass question like a weapon. “WHAT.ARE.YOU.DOING?” She’s a crumpled mess on the floor. She’s apologizing over and over. Her eyes are big and scared and sad. It should have stopped me.
I kept yelling. “YOU FOUND THE GIFTS FROM ME AND DADDY! NOW YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SURPRISES FOR TOMORROW! YOU BETTER HOPE AND PRAY THAT SANTA STILL COMES. WHO IS GOOD ALL YEAR LONG AND RUINS IT THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS?!?!?!? ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? I’M NOT WRAPPING THOSE GIFTS! YOU RUINED IT!”
I was so angry. I was so ugly. I finally realized I needed to retreat. None of it was her fault. But she was here. She was here so she bore the brunt of my anger. I stormed away from her. The anger was twisting and turning and boiling inside of me. I finally saw her. I really saw her. I saw her and I was ashamed of myself but the anger? The anger was in charge. I needed to back away from my baby. So I did, quickly. She ran to me. Nose running, sobbing, screaming how sorry she was. I unfurled her arms from my legs and ran upstairs.
I could hear her crying. I could hear her begging me to, “Just listen Mommy.” I couldn’t. I needed distance. I reached out to some Mommy/Sister friends to confess my sins and vent my rage. They got me straight immediately and moments later I was on my way back downstairs to apologize to my princess. I already knew I fucked up. They just confirmed it. The anger was already being replaced by regret. She’s FIVE! She’s smart as hell but she is FIVE! She’s a kid. Shit, I’m grown and I’ve been known to peek in a bag or two.
I messed that all up. I did every single thing wrong. Here’s the thing you won’t find in a single parenting book or blog: When you have a child they are ALWAYS there. ALWAYS. They see everything. They experience ALL of you, good and bad. There is not always time to think about the best thing to do or time to process your own emotions. Life is happening all the time and your child or children are always there. Front row seat to all of you. It is not always pretty. Sometimes it is downright shameful.
I am an emotional person. I’ve learned to pause when I feel intense emotions. I’ve learned not to react in the moment until I can process. But my baby? She doesn’t always give me time. She won’t always let me pause and sometimes I don’t even try. Life is happening and I’m reacting and sometimes I set her on fire with my mistakes. No one tells you that. No one.
I went downstairs. She had stopped crying. She was sitting on the floor in her room preparing to write a letter to Santa. As soon as she saw me she said, “I’m sorry Mommy. I’m writing to Santa to explain what happened.” I sat next to her on the floor and I opened my arms. She climbed right in and snuggled up to me. “Mommy is so sorry baby. Mommy got very angry, huh?” I kissed her head softly. “Me too, Mommy,” she said quietly. My heart broke. “You have nothing to be sorry for baby. I’m sorry. I lost my temper. I wanted to see your face when you opened your gifts. I wanted to be there. It’s not your fault and I am sorry that I yelled at you. I’m so sorry that I made you feel sad and scared. You are a kid. You did what kids do. You didn’t do anything wrong. Mommy was wrong and I am so sorry.”
She forgave me immediately. She asked if I thought Santa would still come. I told her I was certain that he would. She hugged and kissed and reassured me that, “it’s okay Mommy. Sometimes we all make mistakes.” And I felt worse.
I messed up this Christmas Eve. I messed up big. I was forgiven immediately. This parenting thing, ya’ll. It’s so damn hard every single day.
Let’s be honest about it. Have you ever gone full Hulk on your littles?