A Festive Failure

By 9am on Christmas Eve I was in tears. Overwhelmed by the knowledge of being imperfect, floored by a comment made by a friend about their ‘perfect wife’.

My Christmas Eve wasn’t going to be the relaxed, festive affair that I’d planned. After months of planning and organisation, I still wasn’t ready. There were things to buy, a home to prepare, things to do, places to go.

And I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t perfect. This wasn’t the ‘perfect’ Christmas I’d hoped for.

I blame the Christmas adverts I was subjected to as a kid. The luscious and extravagant parties, towering pyramids of Ferraro Rocher, laughing adults with glasses of champagne.

That’s what I want. The Home Alone style house with the 8ft tastefully decorated tree, Christmas carols playing, children giggling.

The hostess with the mostest, beautiful and cheery. A sparkling home, wonderfully cooked and presented food, each little touch designed to make guests say ‘wow’.

But my reality is very, very different.

It’s not a matter of having or not having. I am incredibly grateful for everything I have.

I’m just not grateful with what I am.

I think I should do better. I think I should be better.

It’s the fact that I fail at every single aspect and I feel each failure keenly. The painful stab in my heart as my mind lists each mistake, each imperfection.

I questioned everything, from the way I look to my ability to parent, to adult effectively.

And I know it’s probably stupid. That it’s on of those ‘first world problems’ but all I wanted to do was sit and cry and because it wasn’t working out like I wanted it to.

More than anything, I was worried that I'd let Matt and the kids down. I want to be the Mum that has it altogether - being a wife and mother is all I ever truly wanted from life. Yet, the reality behind the advertising gloss leaves me feeling like I fail at every turn.

I feel like it all the time. It's just that in the midst of Christmas, every feeling is heightened. And with the self-doubt and anxiety heightened, I was left feeling like a Festive Failure.

I'd like to say that I experienced some sort of epiphany that evening. Amidst the glow of hundreds of candles. Of course, I was able to truly appreciate the real reason for Christmas and seek some refuge in my faith. But there was no thunderclap of greater understanding, just a resignation that I'd done my best and that, if it wasn't good enough, there was nothing I could do now anyway.

So I pasted a smile on over the cracks as best I could. We had a lovely dinner and came home to get the kids into bed. They went to sleep, probably with visions of sugarplums dancing, Santa visiting and chocolate for breakfast.

And Christmas Day rolled along. Followed merrily by Boxing Day. I made mistake after mistake. Probably unnoticed by all around me but felt keenly.

Christmas Eve wasn't the relaxing day of peace and reflection before the chaos.

I completely forgot to leave food out for Santa.

I didn't finish setting the Christmas table properly.

My hair was a mess, I didn't put any make up on and didn't want my photo taken.

I forgot to cook my Mum's favourite side dish.

The gammon wasn't as good as last year.

The lemon tart was dry.

I forgot to use the crackers on Boxing Day.

I didn't have time to cook the fry up that Matt looks forward to.

You're probably sat wondering what on earth I'm moaning about. None of if it is a really big thing.

But for me, it was huge. Each small problem an example of how I'm a rubbish wife, a rubbish mum, a rubbish friend.

And now, in the midst of Chrimbo Limbo, I'm attempting to work out what I can learn. What I can change. What I can do better next year.

I don't have any words of wisdom yet though. Perhaps attempting to understand my feelings in the midst of an exhausted, sugar-overloaded fog is the most ridiculous part of this whole situation but I know that something needs to change by this time next year.

I know that sooner or later I will need to let go of this search for perfection. That I need to find a way of accepting something can never be perfect without beating myself up over it.

I need to stop comparing - either to the wives and mums who seem to have it all together and appear perfect, or to the adverts on TV that I aspired to as a child.

I need to balance my desire to do a good job, to make people happy, to do the best for everyone and everything with a healthy reality check before I get to the point of self-loathing.

I know that my ability to do something well doesn't actually have anything to do with how I look and I need to stop thinking (bizarrely) that everything I get wrong is linked to me being 'stupid, fat and ugly'.

I've never been one for New Year Resolutions but I need to promise myself that I won't get into a state like this for Christmas 2019.

Wish me luck.
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