A Merry Mothering Moment

Brit Tashjian

Something sacred for your own spirit in the middle of all your merry mothering.  

“I ordered a cab for 7:30,” the dad said coming into the kitchen, trolling for cookies and treats to snatch off the counter.   

“What?” She asked absent-mindedly. The mom was in the middle of counting out an even number of mini marshmallows for each kid’s hot chocolate. It was almost time for their “Cuddle and Christmas Book by the Tree” tradition before bed.   

“It’ll be cheaper than downtown parking. What time is the sitter coming?” He went in for one of the perfect piles of marshmallows, and she swatted his hand away.   

The word sitter snapped her out of her holiday trance. What time is it? What day is it –December 16th already!?   

Today was the last day of school, and they had barely survived the mad dash of elementary school class parties, Christmas cupcake towers, and goodie bags for all. How was she supposed to remember they had a date tonight!? Months ago, when she put it on the calendar, she figured it would be a fun way to start off Christmas vacation. But now, the last thing she wanted to do was take a shower and leave the house.   

But the plan was set, and so she peeled the toddler off her leg and gave his big brother a pep talk about playing fair and watching a Christmas movie with the sitter instead of starting in on the basket of books with mom. She raced to her room, threw on the only cashmere sweater she owned, and dug out some dusty high-heeled boots. She had time for a few swipes of deodorant and a layer of mascara on top of this morning’s. Or was it last night’s? She almost got an old strand of pearls buckled around her neck, but tossed them back into the jewelry box when she heard the doorbell ring and was off to get the sitter settled with the kids.   

Once in the cab, she asked her husband, “What is this thing again?”   

“I don’t know. Your dad booked it for us last year as a gift. I think the tickets were like a hundred bucks. He said it was your favorite concert.”   

A hundred bucks could buy a lot of stocking stuffers, she thought, as she watched the city blocks roll past her window in a blur of warm lights and luring storefront windows. I have so much to do, is all she could think.   

“My favorite concert?” She could hardly remember a time when she was a connoisseur of classical music. Last weekend they had all dressed up for Charlie Brown’s Family Sing Along at the local children’s theatre, which was about as much grandeur as she’d experienced in three Christmases.   

After settling into their seats at the concert hall, it took about twenty minutes of listening to the chorus and symphony perform Handel’s Messiah to leave the mental space of Santa’s lists and matching pajamas, and another five minutes to start outright crying. It was like the stress of the entire season, (the entire year?), maybe even her entire career as a high performing Christmas mom, had just been looking for a place to escape, and this moment – a second sopranos solo at the symphony – was its first chance. Her hands ached from mixing the batches of cookie dough that afternoon, and her fingernails were slightly green from dying the icing. Surrounded by beautiful dresses and gorgeous symphony decor, she realized there was something her Christmas was missing, and it was more than classical music and dressing up. It was a celestial message that had faded from her Christmases ever since becoming a mom.   

The angelic voices pierced the air, and she was too tired to care if people saw her cry. And so, the tears flowed faster than she could wipe them. God had become someone she taught and talked about, the thing she was staging with Little Tyke nativity sets. He had lost his magnificence in her mom life. She clutched her chest, right where the pearls would have been, and she could feel the presence of a God she had almost forgotten.   

This was the God she knew as her own, the one with the same Christ-coming-down-to-hay type of love that she so desperately wanted to impart to her own children over the holidays. It was the thrill of hope that she so intrinsically needed to be reminded of – that she was still a part of the real, grown-up kind of Christmas.   

“Oh gosh, honey, are you okay?” The husband asked tenderly as he noticed his wife practically sobbing. The house lights turned up slowly all around them, and she wiped the tears that had fallen onto her only fancy sweater and smiled,   

“I’m fine. I think I just finally got myself to the manger.”  

They joined the lines of people filing out of the symphony hall, and back onto the busy, city streets. The wind carried a sweet, warm smell of waffle cones, probably an ice cream shop doing their after-hours baking, and in an instant, she remembered the kids tucked in their beds, with sugar plums dancing in their heads. She would wake up before them and be back to doing the mom Christmas in just a few hours.   

But that night, oh that night divine, was hers to remember, that Christ was born – for moms too.   

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