I hate Thanksgiving. I always have. I love my extended family. Well, more accurately, I love most of my extended family most of the time, but Thanksgiving makes even the best relationships a challenge. And, honestly, it's a hundred times harder once you start a family of your own. So yeah, I'll say it; Thanksgiving is the worst when you have kids. Seriously the worst.
In an effort to live up to our culture's ideals about what the holidays are supposed to be like, we put ourselves and our kids in impossibly difficult situations. Long car rides, breaks in routine, large family meals full of new foods and new people, expecting kids to keep themselves clean and to act like tiny adults under the gaze of people they don't know. Add cranky relatives to the mix — the ones demanding that children act a certain way, clean their plates, or give them unwanted kisses — and our poor little ones really don’t have a chance.
Not to mention the fact that you, yourself, are probably also stressed, tired, hungry, and expected to perform impossible feats of motherhood. You're also acutely aware that time with extended family members means subjecting yourself to the following questions:
"Have you gained weight?"
"Are you planning to breastfeed?"
"When are you going to have another baby?"
"When are you going to cut your son's hair?"
"Did you hear what your daughter just said?"
"Are those yoga pants you're wearing?"
Under that kind of pressure, anyone is bound to crack or hide in the bathroom with a bottle of wine. So, yeah, Thanksgiving is the worst when you have kids and, um, is it December yet?
Are we there, yet?
I have to go potty.
I threw up.
Mom, she's touching me.
I didn't touch him.
Yes, you did.
Mom, he's looking at me.
My phone just died
Are we there, yet?
I have to go to the bathroom.
Thanksgiving = tantrums. In my experience, most tantrums are due to H.A.L.T: kids are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Thanksgiving means all of those things will probably occur. Thanksgiving dinner will likely not be ready when your darling child is hungry, and they won't want to eat it anyway when it is. Your kids will have to either interact with new people or a new environment or both. Or they may have to let other kids play with their things in their space, which will lead to conflict. You won't be able to pay attention to your kids the whole time, which will probably make them lonely, and the day itself is gonna be long, so everyone will be tired. #FML
My kids are picky eaters, and there's just no way around it. Two of them are vegetarians, and one of them has food allergies, so our options are limited in the food department. Holiday meals are full of negotiating with tiny terrorists about what they will and will not eat, preparing and bringing food they will eat, asking for the ingredients to avoid anaphylaxis, and enduring judgment when I don't make my kids clean their plates or can't make them at least try everything.
So boring. Even for adults it's boring, but when kids are bored, they turn into tiny little jerks. (See my previous note about tantrums.)
Since becoming a mother, I find holidays to be so isolating and lonely. I spend most of my day resolving conflicts, negotiating with my kids, enduring stares and comments, and trying not to cry. When we host, I have to clean, cook, and chat with everyone, too. I have a great partner to lend a hand, but sometimes it's more than even both of us can handle.
Whether it's getting your house ready for company and trying to keep it clean or trying to keep your kids from messing up someone else's home, this is simply impossible.
I don't make my kids to show or receive unwanted physical touches or affection from others. No exceptions. Not even for grandma. Their bodies belong to them and they have a right to absolute bodily autonomy and to give or not give consent prior to receiving any touch, including hugs and kisses. As much as I hate conflict, I will defend their rights forever, which often leads to more conflict. Ugh.
Breaks from school suck. Kids love them, but I just want my clean, quiet, stress-free home back. When's Thanksgiving break over, again?
Nothing makes you feel like a bad mother than facing the critical stares, comments, and questions from relatives about your parenting. I remember one family gathering where I was shamed both for breastfeeding and bottle feeding on the same day. Then, of course, there's the difficult choices about which family gathering to attend. Moms just can't win.
Around Thanksgiving my kids bring home racist artwork and costumes, historically inaccurate information about the relationship between the pilgrims and Native Americans, and a false sense of patriotism. Yuck.
Prior to having kids, when Thanksgiving got too hard for me to handle, there was always the option to drink away the pain. Now? Well, now I can't just give up. I have kids to parent, feed, and try to keep clean, my share of the driving and/or cooking, and this year, I am pregnant. I miss you wine. See you next year. This Thanksgiving I think I will start a new tradition of hiding in the bathroom with pie.