I once told a friend who was pregnant that the hardest things about parenting are not laughing and not crying.
I forgot to mention not being Godzilla at the egg hunt.
Most days, I’m pretty relaxed. I’ve mentioned before that someone once correctly labeled my parenting style as “Lazy Fair.” Roughly 300 days a year, I’m getting pretty good at this going with the flow thing.
However, I am one of those parents with the horrible habit of taking holidays so seriously that I often suck the fun right out of them. I go big or—more often—go home. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, Valentines, Arbor Day; I can ruin anything. Turkey overdone? Presents accidentally unwrapped early? Child not assertive enough saying “Trick or Treat”? I am capable of throwing a fit over minor details that can make my husband and daughter wish there were no holidays.
I am not proud of this.
But Easter is a special challenge, because it involves other families. For the most part, it is only my own people that must worry about my needs to make all holiday related things Norman Rockwell perfect. But egg hunts are my special domain of terror.
You see, I need things to be fair.
And fair is impossible to achieve with a thousand children.
I soothe myself by claiming that it’s okay because I don’t want her to have more eggs than the other children. Just exactly the same. Exactly.
Well, that’s doable with a group of ten kids whose moms all bring a dozen so you know that each kid can find twelve. It’s a little less possible on the lawn of city hall with 30,000 eggs and an unknown number of kids.
Last year, five minutes before the hunt, I’m ashamed to say I made my daughter cry. I snapped at her that she wasn’t focused, that she needed to be ready to run out there as soon as the horn went off so that she could get “enough” eggs.
My daughter, not being a crazy type A holiday nutso, burst into tears.
And my response? To be even more irritated that she was wasting additional prep time crying instead of getting warmed up to run.
I do wake up the next morning ashamed and apologetic. But that does not change the basic horridness of my holiday behavior.
So I’ve been working on it this year. For Christmas, a store bought pie was… fine. Halloween saw me leaving the basket out on the porch after my daughter went to bed, allowing people to take what they thought was the right amount of candy. On Valentine’s Day, I didn’t even count my girl’s haul to make sure she had one from each classmate.
Slow and steady breathing. Smiling instead of coaching. Allowing her to have her own pace of fun. Clenching my fists behind my back to keep from yanking eggs out of the grass myself to slip in her basket to reach some unknown correct number. Holding my husband’s hand to keep myself from body checking the older kids when they spot a golden egg. Trying to enjoy the event and let other families do the same.
If you see me there, a kind smile would be appreciated. But if you back away instead, I will understand.
We’ll see how it goes.