At no other time of the year does an Irish Mammy enter into ‘Peak Mam Mode’ than during the festive season. For those reading this and duly groaning ‘It’s only November!’ with an exaggerated eye-roll; well, clearly you have zero responsibilities in orchestrating a glittery, magical spectacle that would make Martha Stewart hand over her ‘Suzy Homemaker’ crown without so much as a moment’s hesitation.
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A new low for me this morning, when I started crying at the dump. Thankfully, it was during a torrential downpour as I hauled everything from the back of the car in the mud and wet thus sparing the poor man who sits in the booth at the entrance the spectacle of me wailing. The last few months have been tough, the next few months will also be tough. Yet it took the sight of their first beds, broken into pieces in a skip, to tip me over the edge. I’m grand now after my sloppy and snotty outburst and full of vigour once more after winking at a man as I hoisted the bag of coal over my shoulder to throw into the boot of my car as he called for someone to lift it into his because he didn’t want to spoil his suit. ‘Hon the county etc.
There are two particular times of the year that the making of lists features heavily on the agenda; for the back to school shenanigans and the culmination of two consecutive months of work for which a guy dressed in a red suit, who hoofs himself down a chimney, takes all of the credit. This is my Wembley. My arena, where I intend to Mother like no Other and duly whip myself into a frenzy which is entirely of my own doing.
Once November hits, I morph into some manic version of a wannabe Calor Housewife. And I am powerless to resist. A sort of Festive Jekyll and Hyde if you will.; without the murderous and sociopathic tendencies. No, my thoughts are consumed with baubles, teachers’ presents, nibbly bits, and the Big Shop.
But there is also a solidarity amongst us Mothers. We acknowledge each other out in the wild, battle worn and beyond weary as we join the queue to purchase umpteen last-minute gift cards, the length of which rivals the backlog of traffic attempting to gain access to every car park the land over.
We are very easily identifiable. We are not the ones browsing and strolling through aisles or luxuriating over an elaborate, chock full of notions, hot beverage. No, we are on a mission! To lock down Christmas and check off every item on that list within the next eight hours.
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Let’s not get it twisted, this diminutive harbinger of doom is creepier than that hyper-sexualised Gremlin impersonating Marilyn Monroe whilst singing a festive medley. But, let me tell you, this friggin’ elf saved my sanity and kicked my kids, one in particular, into touch quicker than they could scoff at my empty threats of cancelling Christmas. By the way, it’s called ‘Elf on the Shelf’ for a reason; that’s what it’s supposed to do...sit there. All that other tomfoolery of elaborate situations that you are forced to concoct; well, you did that to yourself, didn’t you?!! If you are under the impression that there will be posts extolling multiple escapades of this fecker, well think again! Mama don’t swing that way. She swings towards the Baileys. #jinglethatjangle
You will notice us first in the car park. With a rictus grin plastered across our faces, we acknowledge with an indication of our index finger, the individual who is taking 17 YEARS TO REVERSE THEIR CAR INTO A SPACE.
Muttering under our breath, ‘No, take all the time you need. I know a three-point turn is not in your skillset. Nor is the ability to acknowledge that the floor above you has 50 free spaces yet you choose to hold up at least a dozen cars to showcase your, quite frankly, questionable motoring ability’. At this stage, I amp up the volume on Bublé in the hope of re-instating some degree of zen.
A very visible marker for ‘Mams on a Mission’, is our uniform. A raincoat; we’ve not got time for umbrellas. Polo neck; to combat the wind chill and negate the use of a scarf. Flats/trainers; we cover so much mileage in a short few hours that it would short circuit a pedometer.
Finally, the badge of honour, the cross-body bag. Because at all stages, we require a hands-free situation. Upper arms must be unencumbered by any unnecessary accessories. This allows for maximum placement of shopping bags along each limb thus limiting the trips back to the car.
You will, of course, have had a strict training regime prior to the day in question. Repeatedly lifting your kids in and out of the car, despite the fact that at eight and 10 years of age, they have the full use of their legs and repeatedly tell you that you embarrass them. Pay no heed. This is all for the greater good; nailing the list in one entire day!
You are part of an elite crack-team of which there is no margin for error. In your bag are various snacks; all the better to eat as you power through the streets en route to the next location. It is important that you stay the course and are not be swayed by the many enticing coffee shops , emitting enchanting aromas and warm interiors filled with happy and rested patrons. This is not the day for such tomfoolery.
You have clearly set aside an allocated date for such shenanigans on the calendar, ‘Make memories and attempt to like each other without arguing for 15 mins’ — which is Dec 6, as there is no other date available in between, ‘Listen to the kids murder Christmas carols/ fall over their feet and then weep at the finale of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ etc’.
After successfully forgetting several items on the list, you will then return to your vehicle to join the mass exodus from the car park which will take you approximately another 17 hours to leave. The person who reversed into the spot several hours ago, had their list completed by lunchtime and are now sat in front of their fire. Keep the faith.
Better days are coming and they are called, ‘Women’s Little Christmas’ and ‘The morning after’.