Two days before Christmas, I yelled at my daughter.
It was one of those moments that came so suddenly out of the blue with a fierceness that surprised me. We had just finished our dinner and I brought the laptop to the table. I wanted to do a family activity where each kid came up with quotes that we could put into a book. The hubby and the boys were willing to go along with it. My daughter rebelled. She didn't want any part of that "family" activity and she made it quite clear.
I lost it. I raised my voice and lit into her. I wasn't even sure where all the words were coming from, but I slung them without care. This evil, "mean" mom evolved and I hardly recognized her. My daughter quickly left the table and locked herself in her room.
It took a while to sort out my feelings, calm myself down and become rational again. But the tears kept falling.
Without realizing it, I had let the pressure of the season build up inside of me. Christmas was a time of very mixed-up feelings-- of wanting to heal a fractured family-- not my kids--but my siblings. We could no longer get together as one big family because of old, festering feuds that remained unsolved year after year. The last time our entire family gathered together was a miracle; my father was battling cancer and we captured a rare picture of all of us together. It was the last Christmas before my father was bedridden; a time where hope still remained a possibility.
Deep down, I was missing my dad once again. His birthday was on the 22nd and it passed without much notice--just a quick text between my brother and me; then another from my sister.
To top it off, I was simply juggling of too many plates at once with some of them crashing down-- and I was harboring stress inside. Stress which had nowhere to go but out.
My daughter and I ended the evening with some much-needed hugs, but I can't take back the outburst nor the hurt in her eyes before she left the room. The ebb and flow of emotions is a very human thing and as a mom, I'm going to stumble now and then and royally screw up.
So on Christmas morning, we gathered in the living room to begin to open the gifts. I gathered the kids in front of the tree and they began to goof off. All I wanted was a memorable picture of them standing in front of the tree. Well, I got a memorable picture all right; the kids lost their balance and fell smack into the tree. For a brief second, I stifled the instinct to yell. Instead, I began to laugh. Really laugh.
This is the stuff that memories are made of.