Allison Sharkey

My Anxious Christmas

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It’s Sunday. I’m sitting on the couch nursing the baby when our 5 year old sits next to me. She pauses, drops her head and frowns. I roll my eyes without her seeing. I can only imagine what she’s about to say.

Today has been a good day so far. Granted, it’s 9:12am but waking up feeling genuinely good these days is a celebration in itself.

We’ve already made pancakes, not box mix but from scratch (only because we ran out of the boxed one), and watched the movie “Elf” while eating them.

“I’m sad because we didn’t put up more decorations for Christmas..” she says, still frowning and about to cry.

Big thanks to Will Ferrell and postpartum anxiety for this moment.

I look at her and answer the only way I know how to lately, through half sincerities, “baby we’re going to put more decorations up just not today.” Total lie. I have no plans on putting up more.

“I want to right now,” she says.

“We can’t right now. I’m feeding your sister,” I answer.

The baby has recently foregone napping anywhere except my arms, usually 10 min after nursing, leaving me paralyzed.

As my daughter was yelling at me about decorating, my bladder was also screaming. I had to pee for the past 20 minutes yet was also unbelievably thirsty since I forgot to grab a water before sitting.

For the 500th time this week I think to myself, “I really need to get her to nap in her crib already…”

There’s a container of Christmas decorations sitting next to the tree yet to adorn the house. The tree that’s been up since 2 days after Thanksgiving.

It’s December 2nd and I know very well having the amount of Christmas decorations up right now makes us ahead of the game. After all, I grew up with our tree and home being decorated one week before Christmas. So prior to this year I make sure to go full on Clark Griswold and decorate on Black Friday.

I blast Christmas music, we make hot chocolate, and we dance around the living room while decorating our lives away.

My five year old is obviously aware of her Christmas crazy Mom taking a back seat this year.

She gets louder now.

“Can’t we turn on Christmas music, Mom!” She begs. 
“Make hot chocolate for me PLEASEEE!” She pleads. 

“Alexa, play Frosty the Snowman!” She yells.

Frosty starts blaring from the speaker. The baby wakes up screaming. I knock over three ounces of milk collected in the device suctioned to the non nursing boob catching every drop of milk. My daughter sees the milk spilling and rage building. She immediately apologizes.

The rage that comes along with postpartum anxiety arrives. 

I scream my head off.

I want so badly to yell back at her:

“I’ve done enough decorating already!”

“I could care less about Christmas this year!”

Sending cards. Decorating. The movies. The cheerful songs. The lights and sparkles. Words like joy, merry and bright showing everywhere none of which depict the way I feel.

The holidays can be a lot for any Mom, but in the midst of postpartum anxiety I am so overwhelmed that Christmas has me underwhelmed.

I feel guilty. Guilt I’m not my holly jolly self for my five year old, and I’m not over the moon for my baby’s first Christmas. This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year but right now the pressure of the holidays is making it feel like the worst.

I don’t want family members passing the baby around like a hot potato.
I’m worried about whether or not everyone got a flu shot.

Questions about her not taking a bottle yet.
Comments about her tiny size.
And I really don’t want to bake cookies.
Or send the cards I’ve had on my kitchen table for the past 3 weeks.
I don’t feel like decorating more.
Or singing Christmas carols.
Or watching Christmas movies.

I am telling myself it’s just fine to take it easy, to tone everything down this one Christmas and focus on myself. Every year won’t be like this. It’s fine because our 5 month old surely won’t remember it, and 5 year old will still run down the steps with her eyes wide on Christmas morning.

And it’s especially okay because the way I feel right now is just a season.

A cold, dark, and at times stormy season that’ll pass in time. Right now the only thing I can equate with Christmas is the intense chill in the air. I know it’ll get warmer soon enough. The sun will melt the darkness away, and everything will Bloom again.

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Allison is a wife, mom to two beautiful girls,
and freelance writer living at the Jersey shore. She loves writing, cooking, Pinot Noir, Bruce Springsteen, and combing the shoreline for seaglass. After having her second daughter in the summer of 2018 she’s slowly navigating the world of postpartum anxiety.
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