Choosing Mental Health Over Perfection During The Holidays

The first quarter of school is in the rearview mirror. We survived. Well, sort of. The return to full-time, in-person learning has been nothing short of a hurricane. Now we enter into the frenzy of the holiday season. It is a time of high expectations, gatherings, and mandatory extras for children and parents alike. Most years I savor this season. I love the smells and tastes, friends and family, but this year I am struggling.

Yesterday I spent the whole day in bed. When I finally left my room at 3:00 pm I realized only two hours of light remained. Upon going downstairs my first thought was the four dozen cupcakes that I needed for the soccer banquet on Monday night and the green bean casserole for the office Friendsgiving also Monday. I gathered my two oldest and headed to the grocery store. At which time I remembered the dishes I am to bring to my mother’s home for Thanksgiving. We came home, decorated the tree, watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, and played Uno. Phew.

To be clear I never. I mean never stay in bed all day. The cumulative toll of the last many weeks has taken over.

My baby doesn’t want to go to school because he “can’t speak English” (his words). He has a speech issue and has an IEP for help and for other phonological awareness and anxiety services. Come to find out his IEP has not been implemented. Getting him to school is nothing short of a herculean effort.

My daughter had a doctor’s appointment and was referred to as “it” when asked what her gender was. They had been prepped that she was trans before scheduling the appointment and assigned her as male in the system despite my answer. I changed it when we arrived and they changed it back again in the portal.

My oldest shared he has had dark thoughts and my other child…well, they are all struggling. 

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Perhaps your struggles are not exactly the same but we all have stressors as parents and caregivers. So when writing the letter to the doctor about referring to my daughter as “it” and emailing the principal about teachers grading in a timely manner, I felt like my heart was going to come out of my chest. Literally couldn’t breathe. 

This makes me think. It was important for me to stay in bed until 3:00 pm. I needed the time to sleep and cry and curl under a warm blanket. It is okay for me to step away from work temporarily. My children need me right now, they are hurting and scared. Their sense of safety and security in the world has been rocked. As for the holidays, it is important that we give ourselves permission to let go of perfection. I have compiled the following list for your consideration:

If you put up your Christmas tree but don’t add a single ornament…you have my permission.

If every single thing your family eats this holiday season is store-bought…you have my permission. 

If the cards go unsent…you have my permission.

If you choose cozy jammies over cocktail dresses…you have my permission.

You don’t need my permission, but just in case you want it, it is yours. Sometimes we just need one person to say, “This holiday hoopla is bullshit, let’s just pass on it this year.” Friends, if you are like me and feel like you are unraveling a bit, please take my advice and just let it all go. 

Instead of putting up all the lights, drive around and look at other people’s. Instead of baking all the cookies, buy them. Instead of buying tons of gifts, do gift cards. Whatever it is that is keeping you up at night, you have my permission to let it all go.

3 thoughts on “Choosing Mental Health Over Perfection During The Holidays

  1. […] Choosing Mental Health Over Perfection During The Holidays […]

  2. Amen. Thank you!

  3. […] to your spouse or best friend about this, but never your child. Put the pictures away, pack up the Christmas bulbs and go all-in affirming your precious gift, your child. The person you brought into this world is […]

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