Bad Momma Meltdown


Tis the season to be jolly…

It is the season of

 Christmas carols,

holiday greetings,



and of course the annual Bad Momma Holiday Meltdown.

A few days ago I hit “The Wall.” That invisible barrier that separates sanity from crisis. Every year I find myself flirting with danger as I creep closer and closer to the danger zone. It starts innocently enough with dreams of a perfect Christmas. My intentions are always noble but my expectations unrealistic. I take on weeks worth of good and worthy projects forgetting that I’m not filling in an empty schedule. Instead, I am trying to add all these holiday traditions to an already filled schedule. While I am trying to make homemade gifts and create elf magic my family still expects 3 meals a day and clean socks. As I try to bake 8 dozen cookies the school still expects me to teach my children. There are all the regular demands on an already full schedule and yet every year on December 1st I naively run full speed into the month tripping over my six-foot long holiday “to do” list which inevitably leads to our most beloved McCleery tradition…the Bad Momma Holiday meltdown. The trigger is different every year but the formula is always the same..

Unrealistic expectations + limited time + overly tired children + stressed out momma + 1 more thing being asked = MELTDOWN.

This year it was triggered by an innocent phone call by an unsuspecting woman from church asking me to do one little thing, but it was that proverbial straw.  I, of course, said yes in my appropriately cheerful holiday voice and then hung up. As I hung up  the phone disaster was looming in the other room in the form of an argument between the kids. It was then that I lost it. I stepped into the kitchen and informed my children that I was running away from home…that I was headed to Las Vegas to deal blackjack for a living and I wasn’t coming back.

Tyler quickly responded with, “Can I come with you?”

Frustrated by the lack of affect my words were having I tried again.

“Nice Momma is gone. Her evil twin has taken her place.”

“What does that mean?” Tyler asked

“It means things are changing around here. It means you will obey immediately, you will obey with a good attitude. It means more punishments and less second chances. It means…”

Tyler interrupted my lecture for clarification, “So evil Momma is kind of like Daddy?”

I quickly walked away so the kids didn’t see my smile. Evil Momma doesn’t smile.

I went into my bathroom and started the bath water. I turned off the lights and listened to the bath fill as I pondered my own inadequacies as a mother. Every year I tell myself that this Christmas season will be the year I find that balance. This will be the year that I will meet all those obligations and do so with a happy, humble, grateful attitude. This will be the year I will break the annual family tradition of the Bad Momma Holiday Meltdown but inevitably the stress kicks in, the list gets longer, the guilt gets heavier and world gets noisier. All I want is quiet. I crave the silent night that we sing about. And every year I break.

Then I cycle through the next series of emotions..

Anger + resentment + guilt + sadness = RENEWAL

I have my meltdown, I feel guilty that I am incapable of making it through the season without a meltdown, I am humbled as I am once again reminded of my inadequacies as a wife and mother and THEN I remember…I remember who can help. I remember who the source of energy and gratitude and Christmas spirit is. Somehow in the noise of Christmas I had shut out the voice I most needed to hear.

I needed quiet…I craved stillness…I longed for silence so I could hear my God.

In the darkness of the bathroom I slipped down into the bubbles of the hot bath. I submerged myself so only my mouth and nose lay above water. There in the cocoon of water noises were muffled. I couldn’t see the messes that needed to be cleaned up, I couldn’t hear the bickering of children.

I lay still and I found peace.

Perhaps I am the only one  out there who struggles with the annual Bad Momma Holiday Meltdown but if you find yourself teetering on the brink may I suggest submerging yourself in a hot bath. It is blissfully silent.

Just make sure you keep you nose above water.


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