Christmas stress remedy: Go with the flow

16:00, Dec 24 2013
christmas stress
CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: Christmas can be a period of pressure-cooker intensity.

Cut me some slack. Sometimes, it can be difficult to feel much Christmas spirit. Or to see any holiness in yourself as a mother.

While these past weeks haven't been completely deficient of good things, there have been some challenging moments.

Like so many of us, I have had an overabundance of deadlines and commitments. And although I can't really complain about multiple evenings out and too much wine, alongside unwell children and hectic days they have starved me of sleep and left me feeling snappy.

Indeed, all manner of stresses have mounted this time round. The gift budget was severely eroded by unforeseen expenses: A parking ticket (avoidable, but annoying), a new phone (our son tipped hot coffee on mine), and a new hair straightener (mine blew up, and I can't live without it).

Negative feedback about stuff I'd done, not done, or done wrong had left me feeling anxious. And just quietly between the two of us, I'm a little embarrassed to invite friends round to visit for the demise of household order.

"A perfect mother is one you don't know very well."


- Anonymous

I have used bad language in front of the kids (38kmh in a 50kmh zone? Come on!), "babysat" them with age-inappropriate cartoons on TV (I had another deadline to meet) and hastily erected our Christmas tree with a demeanour ordinarily carried for unpleasant household chores. So much for fostering the Christmas spirit, or filling the season with meaningful family experiences! One cannot help but feel a little fraudulent.

Thankfully, I have a wise friend who reminded me that I'm pretty normal. She told me that it is precisely because I am so average and flawed and unexceptional that makes me so suited to writing about modern motherhood.

At my downcast expression - I'd have preferred for her to perceive me as being a role model super-mum - she smiled reassuringly and said: "Cut yourself some slack. You'll be cutting others some, too."

". . . people's lives are far more complicated than they appear from the outside. That's why, as part of my resolution to ‘Be generous', I meant to cut people slack . . . It is a sign of maturity not to be scandalised and to try to find explanations in charity. ‘Find explanations in charity' is a more holy way of saying ‘cut people slack'." - from The Happiness Project,

Gretchen Rubin.

Other, more elegant words for "cut some slack" might be forgiveness, compassion, non-judgment and tolerance of our own and others' shortcomings. Gratitude for what you do have that is good and right is its side-effect. Regardless of whether we give them or receive them, being generous with these virtues sets ourselves and others free.

Thankfully the pressure-cooker intensity of the pre-Christmas period has subsided. I cannot wait to share in the excitement of Christmas Day with our young children. I look forward to eating yummy food with our family and enjoying a fun-filled day as new toys are played with. As I mother, I can reflect on the miracle of birth, and the joy our children have brought to our lives. They are our most precious gifts.

On that note, have a wonderful special Christmas everyone. Enjoy your babies and grandbabies and every chaotic twist that they bring to your lives. Go with it. Laugh at the messes and the disorder. Give generously of your heart and affections. Cuddle lots.

But before you shed tears over the overcooked lamb, flopped pavlova and grubby finger marks on your newly cleaned windows, remember:

"Cut some slack."