Why, towards the end of every holiday do I find myself battling the same ungrateful attitude?  I, whose children know by heart the phrase "be grateful, not grumpy!".  I, whose in laws make my table, dishes and sink turn into self-cleaning items when they are here?  I, who have never had a tendency towards industry and instead better personify the law of entropy… or at least the idea that things at rest remain at rest…. why should I be ungrateful at the end of the holiday???
Because I see so much fun happening with my children that I can’t provide the rest of the year.  And it usually is NOT happening with the mom.  As an aunt of 20 some children, each of whom were incredibly fun and never naughty for me (because I was the AUNT, not the MOM), the aunt who got to summon energy for fun-ness, go to a house (or await their arrival) be INCREDIBLY fun and then rest when it was over, I was SPOILED, and quite frankly, I miss that privelege as a mother.  This time, the one in which I realize that I will be calling both myself and my children back into a regular, not as exciting routine in less than 24 hours, is the one that turns me into a revolutionary.  I want to stand on a street corner, write an editorial for the newspaper and perhaps petition the President for national recognition of my grievance.. and my call to right the wrongs would go something like this:

Mothers everywhere unite!!   I call for an arrangement that allows US to do only the fun stuff at least two weekends a year.

That’s right!  Twice a year, I want to be the one who can afford to focus on only one child or however many are happy and not in need of a nap without also trying to manage the rest of the household (the crabby children and the adults).  Twice a year, I want to be the one who’s in charge of playtime while someone else worries about bedtime.  Twice a year, I want to do nothing but fun things with the children all day while someone else manages chore time and behavior training issues.  Twice a year, I want to feed them ice cream and cake mid afternoon knowing that I won’t be the one trying to convince them to eat veggies at supper tonight.

Twice a year I want it to be someone else’s job to break to my children that tomorrow we go back to an ordinary day.  No extra playmates, not as much one-on-one or even one-on-two attention.  No extra treats, No extra anything.  Just the same old chores, Bible stories, school, lunch, rest, jobs, books, play chores, supper, read, bed routine of the rest of the non-holiday days.  Not that the routine is too hard or devoid of any fun… in fact, I think we all appreciate it.  But right after a holiday getting back into real life again is just plain painful, even for us adults.

Twice a year, I want to be the one that can play favorites once in awhile, to do things just to make a kid smile without thinking about whether the lesson they are learning from whatever it is we’re doing is a negative one or not.  Twice a year, I want to be able to be goofy and fun and have someone else worry about reteaching children that goofy isn’t always acceptable behavior… even though the fun adults in their lives act that way around them.   Twice a year, I want to be able to play video games with them all day while someone else is fretting over what messages they are receiving from the games, what appetites we’re developing in them for entertainment and how to get them to appreciate the not as exciting, not as instantaneous non-blinking, non-sounding rewards that real life in the form of school, chores, interaction with others and projects have to offer.   

Twice a year, I want to be the aunt, the grandma, the next-door-neighbor lady who hand out treats and compliments, feeds raw brownie dough to the one year old or gives $5 to a four year old for no reason at all.  Let someone else teach them about moderation in everything and clean up after the mess and explain to the one who saved for months to get $4 to buy his car that life isn’t fair and he can be happy for the giftee even though he feels that this $5 recipient is spoiled. 

Twice a year, I want to be able to drop everything that I’m doing everytime a child wants something and let someone else teach them to be patient, wait their turn, not to interrupt and to be modest in the sense that they should not be calling attention to themselves and instead be thinking of others.

Twice a year, I want to walk in the door and have them run to greet me and be excited about all the fun things we’re going to do together and let someone else be the receiving end of the ‘what are you going to make us do now!” look they give to their mother when she calls.

Twice a year, I want someone else to help them enjoy cleaning and pick up jobs, someone else to tell them to wash their hands, fold their clothes and hang them up while I play go fish and hungry hippos without any interruptions by a crying baby or a buzzing dryer or a question or a fussy two year old who just woke up.  I want to be the one with hours to spend just listening to their prattle and enjoying it instead of wondering how much time this is taking from what I need to get done before the baby needs fed again.  I want two weekends a year in which I never have to say: "stop, no, don’t, lie still, be quiet, not now, maybe later, I’m too busy right now."

Twice a year, I want someone else to bring them to my house to play and take them home when they’re grumpy and tired.

Twice a year, I want to be the fun person in their lives, instead of the one responsible for them.  

Twice a year, can someone else watch them for all the things a parent has to watch for and let me just enjoy them for who they are instead of working on helping them grow into who they are to become??!? 

Honestly, holidays aren’t the only time I have felt this way.  Truthfully, I think I envy daddies on a lot of levels.  They have to hold it together and be a good example for the kids, what, maybe four hours each evening in a traditional schedule home?  They get to do special events and plan special projects and go camping and what-not ‘when they have time’ and kids buy that because dad’s aren’t home all the time.  When a mom says “when I have time”, immediately she is suspect anytime she sits down… “now, mom?? Now you have time?”  “No, son, I’m waiting… for the baby to go to sleep/for the timer to ring/for your brother to bring me a diaper/for ….”

Dad’s get to impress.  Mom’s get to disappoint.  Then, because we know we’ve already disappointed them eight times in that single day (or hour), we start getting defensive, crabby, irritable.  We hate their asking because we hate saying no.   Then, if you’re me, you start snapping back with “NO CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY!” or some other equally loving phrase and you hate that even more.

So just twice a year, give us the weekend to say “Yes, I have nothing better to do than play a computer game with you!” “Yes! Of course you can sleep in my bed! I won’t have to get up with anyone in the night and I don’t have to get up early in the morning and someone else can deal with you if we stay up all night chatting and you end up being a grouch.” “Yes, I would be glad to let you stay up late and play go fish all night with JUST me because I have several clones of myself for each of you!” “Yes, we can make a mess of the entire kitchen making frosted sugar cookies because I A) don’t have anything else to do now  B) Won’t have any interruptions during said project and C) Won’t need to do anything after we’re done, so I’ll be able to patiently and sweetly make clean-up a fun time for all of us!!!” “Yes, we can watch that four hour movie together with popcorn and apples and I’ll sit with you the whole time because no other interruptions will arise.” “Yes, I can postpone everything I planned to do today and read to you all morning because someone else is taking care of everything else that needs done with/for everyone else.”  Yes, I’m dreaming.  I can’t honestly say I could do any of these things as an aunt, either.  Still, even accounting for a little ‘reverse glow’ on my aunt memories, I maintain that being an aunt was definitely easier and contained a better ‘enjoyable vs unenjoyable’ moments ratio.

Then again… as an aunt, I wasn’t privvy to all their secrets.  Wasn’t on top of all their smiles and developments.  Wasn’t able to tell someone "this is how they will react to that."  Wasn’t able to watch their souls unfolding little by little.   Well, I got to do that for a handful of them for a year or two, but not for any happy reason.  So, despite the expected post-holiday attitude of ingratitude, I am truly happy.  Grateful, even.  And when, someday, I am able to be as poised and calm all day as I wish I were, I’ll be even more grateful.  

Until then, I’ll go drown my ingratitude in exactly three slices of pie and move on to being grateful that my ‘fat’ jeans still fit. 

And to my children, who may someday get ahold of this, now you know that I’m not just a stick in the mud… I’m a stick in the mud who wishes she weren’t, but won’t change because it’s what you need from me right now since the rest of the people in your life are too busy enjoying you to take this role.  Someday, when you’re older, if my three slices of pie haven’t done me in… and they might…, we’ll eat ice cream and cake midafternoon while playing (wholesome, of course!) video games and stay up until the wee hours of the morning goofing off and laughing…  Not every day, and certainly not now, but someday.  I look forward to it.   🙂

Siblings, guard your children, I’m in the mood to spoil someone, and others have already taken the ‘spoiler’ role with my children, so yours are my next logical targets… bwa ha ha ha…