Bah, Humbug.

Somehow, I need to just relax. Or something.

The season came too fast… what with holidays, birthdays, teaching, trips to Emergency Departments, plans for the back addition, The Defense, and everything in between. I haven’t finished the whole Christmas thing yet (my brother and sister-in-law arrive in Mobile later this weekend) and am still hard at work at the Christmas project I started over a month ago. Santa came, the kids were thrilled, and we went through the motions… but I’m just still not there. I just feel like the whole holiday has been completely missed.

Part of it is that Paul has been working nonstop on the back of the house, which has meant that any celebrating we have done as a family has been incredibly short, pressed for time even within its allocated cut-offs, and unfocused. The holiday has been, for us, a time to use time off from work to do all the other work we do. We both have been like machines. I think the time outside and the physical demands of the building have been both tiring and exhilarating for Paul. He looks great and although complains of understandable soreness, seems energized by the challenges. I feel trapped and overwhelmed by the demands of the holiday, the needs of the kids, and my desire to do it all. I’m jealous because I want to be doing something that recharges me… reading, painting, yoga… anything. But this is impossible unless someone else watches the kids, which isn’t happening. We are trying, as always, to incorporate these things into our play, but it doesn’t serve to energize me.

Maybe part, too, is the way we entered this holiday. Trying to play catch-up.

The morning of the Friday before Christmas, I rushed to get gifts for the teachers together. Paul had the delivery of lumber coming that morning and didn’t want the hassle of finding help he could trust to move the thousands of pounds of valuable wood to the back… so he spent all morning carrying heavy beams and missed the holiday party that morning at Abeona House. I was planning on going and was so excited to be going — Will was part of a play the preschoolers were presenting. He had been talking about it, working on costumes at school and practicing. That morning, he asked if I was coming to his performance. “Yes,” I told him, “I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world.”

Do you see where this story is going?

Problems with getting everything together, my mistaken memory of the events at the school, and just stuff that happens when you are in a hurry… all collided and I arrived at the school at around 10am — rushing in because I thought the show was just starting. But it was already over (it had started a half hour before). Will saw me from his seat at the head of the snack table, “Mommy,” he said, “you weren’t there.”

I have never, in my life, felt so strongly towards simply Not Being. I just wanted to disappear, evaporate, melt away. This couldn’t have happened. It couldn’t have. Just then, Emmy came in and so sweetly commented on Will’s finale: “Where he gave the sweetest bow.” I went to the back of the kitchen so that no one else would notice my crying, my fighting to hold it together. Maybe, at least, I can take pictures? The one thing creative thing that I have, that I can do? I opened up the camera bag to find that all the memory cards were at home — victim to my rushing and holiday madness. I couldn’t take a picture of anything. I contemplated just leaving the party right then and going back to bed. Maybe I could forget the morning ever happened?

A few moments of talking with another parent helped me push back into reality. The party went on and no one noticed that I was without my camera. I began to feel my identity without a lens come into being and picked up with life. Later that night, Will recited the performance to me. Here’s the jist: Out of an egg comes a creepy, crawly bug who is determined to go to Mexico (“I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go to Mexico”) despite being told by many that it’s an impossible prospect. Eventually, the bug turns into a butterfly and joins the millions like him in Mexico, where he lays eggs to continue the cycle. It wasn’t the same as being there, but it made me feel a bit better.

I realized something else then. That I am human and because of this, I cannot promise my kids that I will always be there. Because I am human and real and flawed. I make mistakes, I forget things, I am sometimes late. Things happen. But I always try my best — that is a promise I can make. Unfortunately, my best sometimes totally screws things up.

Like, when despite my best intents, I completely blow the surprise I’ve been working on for Paul for over 4 months.

On Saturday, I picked up the commissioned painting of the kids I had been planning with an artist friend for months. He used a photograph I took of the kids and interpreted it in his own style; the result is unique and sweet. It’s just our kids: imperfect, playing, real, fluid, and completely themselves. I had been swiping small amounts of money away for almost a year (surprising Paul with anything is next to impossible due to the way we use Quicken) so I save little amounts of petty cash. Paul knew something was up, but was completely in the dark until I began to tell him, over Saturday dinner, about my visit with that particular family (the painter is Will’s friend Aya’s father). Coupled with my disastrous recovery, Paul put it together. I felt so defeated that I just gave him the painting (I figured it saved me the hassle of figuring out how to wrap it without endangering the unframed piece.)

So broken hearts and ruined surprises brought us into Christmas-time 2007. Haven’t I mentioned how 2007 sucks? I cannot wait for 2008. I’m tempted to crawl into a hole and hibernate until 2008; I don’t feel anything will be safe until we are finally out of this terrible year.