The holiday hustle and bustle was beginning to leave me feeling more frazzled than festive this year.
An increased workload for both my husband and myself, combined with financial stress and a few back-to-back tummy bugs had put Christmas cheer in our household to the wayside — well, that is until recently.
Strangely enough, it took a pretty darn embarrassing scenario with a saucy little nudist, topped off by a mini-mom meltdown to let my heart be merry and light.
Confused? Let me set the scene.
Christmas shopping is stressful enough on its own — throw a tyrannical two-year-old into the mix and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.
While I should have known better, I decided that I’d take my youngest daughter, Zoe, into the changing room with me at the mall so I could ‘quickly’ try on a pair of dress pants to wear to a Christmas party.
No, it’s not the first time I’ve regretted taking my two-year-old to run errands, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable moments of parenthood trial and error.
As I bent down to pull up my pants, I felt a sting on my derriere from a wee little hand.
“You have a big fat bum, mommy,” shouted my precocious preschooler as she gave me a little swat.
Muffled laughter from neighbouring change rooms made it clear that her sentiment was heard loud and clear by fellow shoppers in the store.
At that moment, I decided to ditch my efforts to try on pants and focussed on getting dressed and out the door as quickly as I could.
However, my darling feisty red head had other big plans — she wanted to get undressed just like mom.
In less time than it took me to put on my shoes, she managed to strip down to nothing, discarded diaper and all.
“You can’t get me,” she taunted as she ditched her pull-up and darted towards the change room curtain, eager to show all the shoppers in the store her birthday suit.
Fortunately, I was able to grab her in nick of time — even so, I left the mall feeling done and defeated.
“I can’t get anything done, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
“Why is motherhood sooo hard? I’m ready for Christmas to be over,” I said to my husband on the phone while sitting in the mall parking lot with tears streaming down my red hot cheeks.
With my husband working his fourth late shift in a row, I was exhausted and overwhelmed being a solo parental figure to my energetic twosome.
To top it off, we still hadn’t purchased a single Christmas gift, our house has yet to show any signs of festive cheer and I seemed to have gone up a pant size.
Almost on cue, little snowflakes began to sprinkle down from the sky and onto my car windshield — it was the first snowfall of the season and my girls couldn’t have been more stoked.
Both girls pressed their faces up against the window to get a eye-full of the fluffy white stuff.
“Christmas is here, Christmas is here,” exclaimed Zoe from the backseat.
“Can we play in the snow? Can we eat the snow?
“Not the yellow snow,” quipped her older sister from the other car seat.
Little giggles turned into big bellowing belly laughs from all three of us. Suddenly the change room fiasco from only moments before was forgotten as was my fleeting meltdown.
It was at that moment I realized I’d been so busy focusing on all the big things like our mortgage payments, looming deadlines, a never ending pile of pink laundry and a growing backside that I realized I was missing out on so much.
And I’m not just talking about getting caught up on Christmas shopping, finishing my holiday baking or trimming the tree — I mean all the everyday things that are easily overlooked when you’re caught up with the hustle and bustle throughout the calendar year.
When we got home that night, I left the dishes on the counter, set my phone aside and snuggled my girls on the couch for a festive family movie night. I was determined to carve out two full hours of non-interrupted, live-in-the-moment family time.
As the credits rolled, Zoe leaned up against my shoulder and whispered softly into my ear.
“When I grow up, can I have a big bum too, mommy?” she asked.
Cue the laughter — the three of us were in stitches once again.
“Maybe if you’re a good girl, Santa will bring you one for Christmas,” I joked.
While life isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, I’ve since made a point of pressing pause to soak up these fleeting moments — the good, embarrassing and hilarious.
Fortunately for us, there are no shortage in the Clark household.
From our house in ‘the Valley’ to yours, happy holidays!
Kristyl Clark is a stay-at-home-mom who writes monthly for the Langley Times and is the founder of the family blogazine, She’s a Valley Mom.