Uber Mommy Guilt — The Christmas Edition
I know….it’s not even Christmas. But I thought that we were being smart by leaving the Toys ‘R Us catalogue around, so that we got some decent Christmas Lists to share with Santa. Previous years’ lists read like this: a Canary, Purple Soap, nice Socks, a doll that waves Good-bye. In other words, stuff that doesn’t exist. Or we aren’t getting (we have enough feet in the house with 8 people, without adding paws and talons, thanks.) Even this year our 8 year old told us that she wanted an orange for Christmas. She was reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and learnt that oranges were a very prized gift back in the day. The day being over a century ago. And yes, she did ask for an orange as she was standing in front of a bag of oranges on the counter. So to help us adults out, we “leave” the catalogue around so that the Christmas Lists are a tad more accessible for those of us who are at Walmart at 10:37 on a Friday evening. Or packing up the sled at the North Pole. Right.
But, there is a time limit on how long the catalogue should be hanging around. When the lists have a good 5-10 items with 3 super-really wants on them,the catalogue should magically return from whence it came. However, that is it should disappear. It didn’t. The kids’ lists are now 30 items long. and the catalogue is in a place of pride in the children’s books — a classic to be thumbed over and over. A scripture of materialism for the young and greedy.
I totally know that things have gone too far when I get the “Litany of the Gifts” thrown at me. The Litany of the Saints is the part of Mass when the Priest asks for the prayers of many of the Church’s oldest and greatest Saints, and the people respond “pray for us.” It is usually chanted in the Benedictine tradition. The Litany of the Gifts however, goes like this :
R. I want that
R. I want that
R. Give that to me
Part of me is, of course, terribly upset by my children’s greedy, gimme ways. But the other part is guilty: guilty because when I look through the toy catalogue, my dream shopping list doesn’t sound that much different from their Litany of Gifts. Chip meet block.
I had similar pangs while on-line clothes shopping yesterday. It reminded me of a tradition that has fallen (excuse me, been pushed) to the wayside around here: new Christmas Eve PJ’s, and matching fancy outfits. When we had just two, it was so much fun to match everyone up. When we had three — triple fun. Cost was totally worth it. When we had four — really, really cute, but OMG that cost a lot more than I thought it would. But with five and over — too much money for a whole lot of unnecessary laundry. Never mind that we already have tons of sleepwear, and dressy clothes. Yet I still feel a pang of regret, that we aren’t shelling out $300 plus tax for nothing more than the chance to take some really cute pictures. While it’s totally irrational, I still can’t shake the feeling that I should be doing these things. This new clothing angst was compounded when two of my kids came down for school, several days in row, dressed all in hand-me-downs. Sweetie Pie (8) started recounting how proud she was that while completing an assignment to visit one of those “Earth footprint” websites, she could check “Wearing all hand-me-downs” in the clothing section. She smiled. I faked it.
I doubt that I am alone in my guilt. Maybe the trigger is different, but the guilt is the same. We have good lives. We are happy. We are blessed in a multitude of ways. We have tons of material comforts and diversions. So do our kids. So why all this angst?
I have since hidden the catalogue. It is nice to have all those web order numbers handy or I would have tossed it. And I am trying to think of a new tradition for Christmas Eve that involves something new but small and cost effective (fluffy socks? ornaments? any ideas would be appreciated.) As to the guilt: I’m ignoring that, too. Because I finally learned, that no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, when it comes to kids, it never goes away.