There’s nothing quite like a holiday to trigger all your perfectionist demons.
I love the reasons we celebrate Easter: the resurrection of Jesus, if you’re a Jesus person, or the coming of spring if you’re not. But like many holidays, it comes with a ton of cultural pressure that mostly lands on Mamas. And whether I can meet a holiday with joy or dread mostly depends on whether I’ve been taking good care of myself emotionally or not. If my needs are met – joy. If the well is dry – dread.
The pressure to make a holiday is unique, because it comes at a set and arbitrary time – whether you feel like holidaying or not. During Easter I feel pressure to make sure everyone has an outfit that’s appropriately springlike but in which they will not freeze to death, since it’s still 30 degrees where we live. To host a big dinner and/or a family gathering with all the attendant cleaning, shopping and cooking and which, like most holidays, will fall short of the expectations for at least one, and possibly more, of the people present. And do that ON A SUNDAY, when I have to go to work the next day. Oh, and don’t forget to make it look effortless and be sure you look good doing it.
This year, the well is dry, and I was filled with dread. I started a conversation with Anthony about this with my usual subtlety: “How can we make Easter not SUCK?”
The critical part of what we came up with was his idea: a) decide what our little family is doing; and b) invite anyone else to join us IN WHAT WE ARE DOING. Or not. Those are the only choices. What we’re doing is not up for debate.
This short-circuits the people pleasing, hustling-for-approval thing that happens when, instead of making definite plans for our family, I try to come up with something that everyone is happy with. All of that is lifted when I can say we are doing X, and leave everyone else with the choice to join us or not. If it’s not what anyone else wanted to be doing with their holiday, it’s on them to decline, and if they do join us, it was their choice and they are responsible for their own good time. It seems like a small change, but it created a big internal shift for me.
Full disclosure: Anthony has tried to lead me to this before, with mixed results. Clearly I’m a bit of a slow learner when it comes to this kind of thing. The pressure I put on myself makes so much noise, it can be hard to think clearly in its presence.
So what are we doing?
Easter baskets and coffee.
And then a midday dinner – not brunch or an Easter buffet, but one of our very favorites: Italian. There’s wine! And going out means it has a definitive end point at which I can go home and put on pajamas.
A day of enjoyment and rest for EVERYONE, including Mama.
That’s what I call a holiday.