Yesterday was the last day of Preschool for the semester, which means it was jam-packed with business, and busy-ness. The night before, my husband helped me dip gingerbread and buckeyes into chocolate while I double-iced cookies, which kept us up late late late. But thank God for his help, because in years’ past, this would have been all on me, and I have some very firm rules in life, one of which is, “Christmas doesn’t happen by itself.” Christmas isn’t a Mommy-game, where only Mommies play, judging happens on Pinterest, and by December 26th, the country is filled with frazzled, angry women married to men who can’t figure out why the holidays seem so stressful to their wife.
The cookies had to set overnight, so the next morning, we got up early, and packaged them up, and then packaged up secret Santa presents for their class exchange, got the kids wrestled into outfits appropriate for Church, got ourselves into outfits somewhat appropriate for Church, and off we went. The kids are in a Parochial school PreK, which means lots of going to mass for them, not so much ever going, for us. But yesterday they were in the Xmas pageant at 8:30 Mass, so we headed over to the church after dropping them off in their classroom, and waited.
There are a surprising number of parishioners at 8:30 mass, and they seem to really loathe the days the school comes over and ‘ruins’ their morning prayer. There are a lot of dirty looks, long-suffering sighs, and outright “harrumphs” in the back half of the church, and it makes me laugh. I am not Catholic, so I follow along as best I can, sing when I should, and I wonder, as I do, where do these grumpy old people think new Catholics come from, if not the Parochial schools? I do my best, and get my Catholic-Aerobics on, because, Man! These people really do a lot of up-and-down, up-and-downing in their worship.
After, we dropped off presents: teacher, teacher’s aide, Kindergarten teacher (she is writing her thesis, so we wanted to fuel her with a little coffee), Principal, School Secretary, etc. The kids have not been as well-behaved as I would expect, and so these were half-present, and half a subtle demonstration that we are not a family raised by wolves, that we know how to Do Right, and that any naughtiness is some kind of astonishing aberration. For their class party, I did fancy double-iced gingerbreads, with elaborate snowmen and reindeer designs on the top, also as a way of demonstrating what naturally good people we are, who Make Effort and Try Hard, and Are Involved In Their Kids’ Educations.
I also made up a bigger batch of cookies for another mom whose daughter was in my kids’ class last year, and stashed it in the car, hoping to flag her down at drop-off, or during the day. She lost her husband just before Thanksgiving, and I figured holiday baking wasn’t at the top of her to-do list currently. And she and her daughter are both sweethearts – the whole thing just breaks my heart. I caught up with her after Church, luckily, and was able to do a cookie drop-off and set up a preliminary play date for over the break.
While the kids were in school, we both ran around getting food for our Xmas dinner, last minute batteries, and a special Xmas tree ornament with the year engraved on it, a tradition we do every year, including the part where we leave it to the last minute. After school, we herded the kids to ballet, which was a demonstration class, meaning parents got to sit in, and where my kids did that thing that reinforces publicly what a great mommy I am, in the Sanctimommy sort of way. The teacher asked each girl what her favourite dessert was (so they could dance like their favourite desserts. Really. PreK ballet is awesomely funny), and she asked my Vivi, first, and Vivi couldn’t answer the question. “Dessert,” she seemed to be saying, “I am unaware of the concept.” Then my other daughter, after much prompting, said, “Apples!” And Vivi, asked again, concurred; apples were also her favourite dessert. There was much praise from their teacher for these healthy choices, while I composed my face into a form of beatific sainthood. I am the mommy whose 4 year old twins think healthy apples are the best dessert, and other parents, whose children shouted out things like ‘cake’, and ‘cupcakes’, and ‘cookies’ seethed in silence a bit.
Never mind that my kids eat ice cream after nearly every dinner, and I am really just an average sort of parent. In public, where it counts, we are all-apples, all the time, apparently. I win at the game of Mommy!