The holidays always send me into an emotional tailspin. I think it’s part Seasonal Affective Disorder, part non-stop things to do (coupled with five birthdays within 40 days of Christmas), part kids being home from school and fighting with each other non-stop (NON. STOP.), part elf-wrangling (damn you, Elf on a Shelf….I already have so much to do!!!), and, lastly, the reminder of unrealized dreams (that I’ll never, ever, EVER be a Radio City Rockette, no matter how much I love to kick really high…I love you, my sparkly, leggy, gloriously-headdressed, sisters-from-another-mother!!!). This year has proven to be no exception to my seasonal melancholy, for all the usual reasons, plus a few new ones, too.
Allow me to vent a little, if you will, about my holiday fails. As the parent of four, there are a lot of things I am in charge of, and in charge of remembering…to include Christmas lists and wishes, school parties, class gifts, 23 pre-assembled gingerbread houses (oh yeah…I did it, bee-yotch!!!), etc, etc, etc. The list is long and my energy is short and yet these things get done, in the quest to be a good parent or, at the very least, a parent who doesn’t completely suck. The stuff gets done and all that gets sacrificed is a set of gel nails (which, incidentally, CAN be gnawed off…but is NO easy task).
The major holiday disappointment this year centered on Nadia. Her Christmas list, every year, looks like this: real/live dolphin, real/live unicorn, real magic wand, followed by an assortment of various living, breathing animals, many of which there are actual laws against owning. So, every single year, Nadia is disappointed when she gets a FurReal puppy and a pair of underwear with bunnies on them. So, this year, I caved. She got guinea pigs. TWO guinea pigs, no less. REAL, LIVE guinea pigs. Oh yes….this was the year I was going to make her wildest dreams come true! And it was going to be awesome, and I was going to be awesome, and she would love me more than she ever imagined (I could hear the nomination…”And up for Parent of the Year is Kelly Gorreck, for getting TWO REAL LIVE guinea pigs for her animal-loving, animal-deprived daughter, Nadia!!”). And she was overjoyed over her little pigs, in complete disbelief that, FINALLY, she got a real/live something. The euphoria lasted until…Grace opened her iPad. And it was all over. ALL. OVER. As delightful as the pigs were, they were not an electronic device, incapable of delivering her alternate worlds or random videos of Cesarean births (don’t ask). They were merely living, breathing poop factories. How could something so…smelly…compare to the shiny, sparkly iPad?!?!?! Parenting fail. Deep breaths.
I’ve largely shamed her into being guiltily grateful for her critters, but the sheen is off. She’s disappointed, I’m disappointed (in her, frankly), and we haven’t seen Grace since she unwrapped the iPad. Parenting. It’s a thankless, expensive, labor-intensive job. At least Liam was overjoyed over his sneakers. Of all things, sneakers. The kid hugged us, for getting him sneakers.
So, seasonal melancholia was in full force. And then…the unspeakable. An affliction that might as well be called Voldemort…so vile that you don’t even want to utter its name. Lice. That’s right. Lice. So vile, it can only be whispered. Lice. I refuse to say it any louder. According to the pharmacist at the local grocery store, there’s been an epidemic the last couple months. But, of course, who would dare announce it? So, for the first time ever in my life, I am facing lice. Which is vile and disgusting and not very easy to kill. So, over the holidays, while we should be having a good time and whooping it up, we are instead quarantined, fighting amongst ourselves, while we deal with the outbreak. I’ve washed, dried, disinfected, nitpicked (now that I know the origin of the word…look it up), home-remedied, etc, and I am DONE. This is disgusting and I don’t want to do it any more. Ironically, Nadia came up with a new theme song for me tonight, as we hovered over the guinea cage, cleaning it. It went something like this, “Killing bugs from hair to hair, scooping turds from here to there!” And that’s when I realized…my melancholia is legitimate, earned, and fairly serious. If only I could vote myself off my own island.
And as I made my margaritas tonight, nearly crying each time as the lime juice seeped into my bitten-to-the-quick, gnawed-off-gel-nails fingers, I imagined how glorious my life might have been if I were a Radio City Rockette. Surely, my weight problem wouldn’t exist. Surely, my nervous, nail-devouring habit also wouldn’t exist. I’d get everyone gift cards for Christmas and, obviously, I would NOT be nit-picking. My theme song wouldn’t consist of lice and turds, but, whatever the theme song was, it would surely be accompanied by some exquisitely choreographed high-kicking. How different things might have been. Insert giant sigh here.
But instead, my Rockette alter-ego sleeps, while my mom-of-four actual identity is on her third margarita and awake, because she never sleeps. While my Rockette dream is behind me, my dream now is much more humble…to not be fitted in a wrap-around, safety “jacket” and keeping my kids from becoming wards of the state. And getting a new theme song. I definitely need a new theme song.