Accountants are notoriously increasingly busy leading up to the April 15th tax deadline. Teachers' schedules ease up over the summer months. Various other professions are well known for hectic stretches during the year. As a stay at home mom to six kids, I maintain a jam packed pace throughout the year but the month or two leading up to the Christmas holiday are particularly chaotic.
This year's list making, gift shopping, cookie baking, card designing, gift buying, envelope licking, gift hiding, card mailing, menu preparing, well-hidden gift searching, kid's church performance practicing, house decorating, gift wrapping, dressy wardrobe organizing, and sleep deprived surviving just about put me over the edge.
Coach maintains his typical work schedule. Long hours. His confidence in my ability to manage all of the extra holiday themed tasks along with my usual making dinner, doing laundry, carting kids to practices, and cleaning up after everyone is clear based on his ability to relax while I get it all done. My Christmas gift from Coach in 2005 was a book titled, 'Happy Housewives: I was a Whining, Miserable, Desperate Housewife - - But I Finally Snapped Out of It . . You Can, Too!' In response to my disgust, he swore that one of his patients found the book entertaining and recommended that he pick up a copy for me. I was over 8 mos pregnant with Reggie at the time and had just lost a 36 year old cousin in a tragic car accident. I couldn't believe he was unable to choose a more sensitive gift for me. I was quick to point out that accepting gift suggestions from patients was dangerous considering majority of these virtual strangers don't know me at all. Ever since that disastrous, insulting, thoughtless gift, I have selected a gift that Coach can present to me in front of the children that won't cause my head to spin around. Just one more duty to add to my long list.
My envy of Coach's responsibility free approach to this annual frenzied season grows each year. In December, a few of his comments or assumptions boiled my blood. I came to realize that he really can't grasp how I get it all done. It calls to mind an Oprah Winfrey episode that I saw years ago. Oprah awarded a busy mom with a spa day and designated the care of the couple's three young children to her typically very busy husband. Certain assignments had to be accomplished, one of which was purchasing a birthday gift, wrapping the gift, and delivering said gift and child to a birthday party on time. The experience proved to be an eye opening one for the dad, who was exhausted and befuddled by the end of the day.
In all fairness, I suppose I should mention that my hubby does
contribute to the holidays by hanging a few strands of Christmas lights
each year. In addition, he reluctantly shops with us for our fresh
Christmas tree. He prepares the tree, and sets it up in the stand.
Last year in the middle of the night, about a week after we had place it
in the living room and decorated it, the tree crashed down. Not only
did this create a giant mess, but we lost several ornaments. Coach is
opposed to the live Christmas tree, because it requires him to
participate at a level he is not accustomed to. This year after setting
up the tree, he shared with me that he would like us to purchase a fake
tree to use in the future. I consider myself a sane holiday person.
Translation: I don't set up decorations in early November - in fact I
am lucky to have them in place by mid December. Our home is not
transformed into a winter wonderland. I tackle the additional
decorations with a minimalist approach. For this reason, I feel that
continuing the tradition of a real tree is not asking too much. I
informed Coach that if we don't get a real tree next year, I will
convert to Judaism.
One day a few weeks before Christmas, Coach and I attended one of Eddie's home freshman basketball games at the high school. In order to fulfill our family's volunteer requirement one of us needed to work the concession stand during the varsity game. I sent Coach home and offered to relive my Burger King days by serving people drinks and food, and making change for them. Tetenka hung out with me to lend a much needed hand. I had opted to stand during Eddie's game, because the lack of support supplied by the bleachers would result in unwelcome back pain. After shuffling around the concession area on my feet for another couple of hours, I collapsed on the couch when I returned home. Eventually I moaned about my intention to whip up a batch of cookies before bed. Coach rolled his eyes at me. Why had I flopped on the couch and not started cookies right when I walked in? Why wait until it was almost 10 pm to start baking? I didn't respond. Clearly this is a man who wouldn't grasp my need to refuel.
A little over an hour later, my perfect cookies cooled on the drying racks. I cleaned up the kitchen and loaded the cookies into dated with sharpie freezer bags. The kids complained all month that I was depriving them of cookies, but I refused to spare even a half dozen despite their gripes. My master plan was in motion. My stockpile of frozen cookies would be ready when it came time to defrost them and deliver them to the kids' teachers. When school dismissed for two weeks, my kids marched into school with several festive goodie bags loaded with my infamous chocolate chip cookies. Coach did apologize for scolding me about my baking timeline. I knew it was because he had no idea what I accomplish 'behind the scenes.' And by 'behind the scenes' I mean: what happens right in front of his face.
The next issue that cropped up isn't really a holiday related incident. I audibly made mention to Coach and Mini of the practice that Mini needed to attend at Church at 6:00. More than once. I was returning from another errand when I called the house and asked Coach if anyone had dropped Mini off at the 6:00 mandatory readers' practice. No. She was still home. It was 6:15. Coach's ability to tune me out when I am speaking is not exclusive to the holidays. He gets lots of practice all year long.
A week and a half before Christmas, I took our minivan to the mechanic. One of the tires had been losing air. Coach discovered a screw in the tire, and we were hoping that the mechanic could patch the hole. I learned after a few minutes of arriving that all four tires needed to be replaced. Don, our trusted mechanic, showed me the evidence. They weren't bald yet, but it wouldn't be long. Additionally the damaged tire was housing a screw in its wall, which meant it wasn't eligible for a patch job. Swell. Don did some searching on the computer, and was able to get the necessary tires to the shop by the next afternoon.
That evening I discussed our options with Coach. How would we handle being down a car for the day? I suggested that one of Coach's employees follow him to the shop over their lunch break, and drive Coach back after the drop off was complete. After all, the shop was only a few miles away from the clinic. Coach had another plan. Wasn't there something I could do while sitting in Don's waiting area for 3 or 4 hours? 3 or 4 hours!!! There it was. Yet another way that Coach proves he doesn't understand how I get it all done. How could I accomplish anything on a day when I wasn't babysitting by sitting in a waiting room for hours? No oven to bake in. No gifts to wrap. Christmas cards had already been mailed out, so no cards to stuff, stamp, and lick. I was baffled.
Where is Oprah when you need a spa day and a learning opportunity for a husband to attempt to accomplish a fraction of what I do leading up to Christmas? I'm just too busy to reach out to her, as I continue to get it all done.