Before the new year begins, every mom needs to hear these simple words to preserve her sanity: good job. “Good job” may seem simple and a bit trite, but Christmas has a way of leaving mentally ill mamas strung out, exhausted, and defeated (Stressed Out! Stress, Mental Health, and Our Sense of Control). After all of the efforts spent making Christmas magical for everyone else, the house is a big old mess, the kids are exhausted, and daddy’s gone back to work. Mama’s left, again, to put it all back together, take down the decorations, and get the family ready for a brand spankin’ new year. It all seems a bit impossible. So Mama, before you start undecorating, washing dishes, and folding another load of Christmas pajamas, hear me out. Let’s talk about what every mom, mentally ill or not, needs to hear before the new year begins.
Mentally Ill Moms Need to Hear These Things to Preserve Their Sanity
The Week Between Christmas and New Years Can Seem Impossible
Every year, I try to remain mentally healthy during the holiday season, while still managing to accomplish months of tasks in a matter of weeks. It’s an impossible balance. I try my best to not lose my temper with my kids as I rush around cleaning and wrapping. All the while, they just want to sit down and read Christmas books with me. I try to swallow the growing sense of urgency that feels so much like panic, trying to tell myself that Christmas is coming whether we read those books together or not. Christmas comes whether my list gets done or not. Those little faces keep growing and changing with each new Christmas, whether I’m accomplishing what I think I should or not.
Christmas Morning Brings the Truth We Need to Carry into the New Year
Christmas morning comes, and year after year I am amazed at how my children forget about the commercials on the cartoon network teasing them with toys they didn’t know to ask Santa for. We all forget about the temper tantrum our little one threw on Christmas Eve after church. We forget that the Christmas cards were never sent and that the mentally ill mama has been stressed out and short-tempered for weeks.
What we remember on Christmas morning is that we are all still here, together. We realize that we have made it through another year, through all the obstacles and beginnings and endings we have faced. We realize that the love and goodwill Santa Clause represents lives in this home, between our hearts. Generosity of spirit abounds in gifts given and received. In this brief moment sandwiched between the craziness of pre-Christmas and the mess of post-Christmas, time stands still. And in this moment, I can finally exhale.
It may not be perfect, but it never had to be. I did the best I could to balance mental wellness and the craziness of Christmas with the joy of just being a mom (The Best Gift the Mentally Ill Can Give Their Families).
So before you feel defeated, looking around the house at the piles of wrapping paper and new gifts requiring new places in your already jam-packed home, take a moment to exhale. Breathe in the beauty of that singular moment when you forgot to berate yourself over all the imperfections of your family Christmas.
Mentally Ill Moms Need to Take Stock of All They Have Done Right Throughout the Year
As the year winds down, maybe we need to take stock in every beautiful moment we’ve had with our families and resolve to let the rest go.
Forget all the times there wasn’t enough of you, Mama. Forget all the times when you felt like you were falling short, blowing up, and failing. Remember the times when you locked eyes with that partner of yours, and knew you’d make it. Count up the times you held your sick baby in the middle of the night and sang one more lullaby. Remind yourself of every lunch packed, school paper signed, birthday cake baked, shirt ironed, conference and game and meet attended. Remind yourself of every single way you have shown up, cheered, and pushed through for your family over the course of this year (Bipolar Mom: You are a Super Hero).
Carry Your Amazing Feats of Motherhood Forward into the New Year
Write your amazing, everyday feats of motherhood, in spite of mental illness, down on paper. These acts of love that you and I chock up to duty and mundane routine could fill pages upon pages. When written down, it becomes so plain to see how our lives are spent loving and living for our families.
So before you feel defeated, looking around the house overwhelmed, look at that list of love again, Mama. And remind yourself that no matter what new year’s resolution you make next week, you’re already doing pretty good. You’re already loving at full capacity. Merry Christmas, and have a beautiful, healthy New Year.
For more of what you need to hear before the new year begins, view: