Monday Musings: Long Live the Sap

Monday, December 22, 2008

My friend L and I are masochists. This past weekend we hosted a Holiday Kids Party for 15 moms and 19 children at my house, complete with cookies to decorate, a silver star to bedazzle, and a skinny Indian Santa (my husband--who, to his horror, was called "Santa Uncle" by one of the older kids) to ogle. There were juice boxes for the kids, champagne for the mommas, and enough high-pitched shrieking to have qualified as a zoo. It was great. A few years ago it would have been unimaginable and, in fact, many of the moms in attendance admitted to furrowed brows upon getting the evite from me--you're hosting a what? But among the many thoughts that count as epiphany these days ("I am going to have to drive my children to school for the next 18 years") is this one: Motherhood has made me into an unmitigated sappy mess. Coupled with the general dose of sentimentality provided by the holidays--it's over, done, I am a cooked sappy goose.

The thing is, I have always been a sap. More "crying at Life is Beautiful" than "crying at Hallmark commercials"; more emailing my kids random thoughts than scrapbooking about their first steps, but a sap nonetheless. And this time of year forces reflection doesn't it? It's sort of the silver lining of the frantic-ness of the end of the year: You get to (albeit somewhat forcedly by the end of the calendar) take stock of things, try to get perspective on your year, think about the people who are important to you. That was the impetus for the Holiday Crack-y Kids Party, really. We wanted to take a moment to get all of these amazing women together. To see all of the kids who are going to grow up side by side. To mark the fact that life right now is absolute craziness, punctuated by tantrums, spilled juice, melt-downs--but aren't we lucky that we're all in it together? Like Tina Fey said, "I don't care how many covers you're on. When you're chasing a three-year-old around with a pull-up [diaper] hoping she won't poop on the floor, you're just like every other mom on the planet."

My sappy-chip got to go into overdrive since, immediately after the party, we had our annual family dinner--my husband and I; our sisters; my sister's fiance; my husband's sister's husband. Sitting around the table, I found myself realizing that I was surrounded by 5 of my absolute favorite people in the entire world. 5 of the people who can make me laugh louder than anybody else. Who can read my expressions. Who I let myself call when I need help (and who get how weird I am about asking for help). I was so overcome by my sappiness that I had to bite my tongue at one point so as not to proclaim--as an absolute non-sequitur--how much I love my brother-in-law. Any control I may have once had over my reckless sappiness was absolutely absent.

And I suppose it's time to get used to it, because life is going to continue to throw us for many loop-de-loops. At our family dinner, when we were talking about 2008 and its myriad ups and downs, I found myself thinking about how different each event would have been without the cocoon of the people I love. The birth of two babies, the death of a father; fear over a newborn and fear over an elder; new motherhood and pregnancy; a blissfully happy engagement; layoffs and health scares, birthdays at the beach and on the drums in a courtyard; fellowships; imminent moves across the country; and everything in between. Events, for sure, like so many other peoples', but they just happen, collectively, to be ours. Our little story, our piece of the world. We share it together and I thought about how I would not be the same person if I didn't share every single moment of my life with the people I am so fortunate to have in it. I don't remember having these sort of bone-deep moments of sappy contemplation before. Another byproduct of motherhood, like the not-quite flat stomach and the inability to watch sad news stories about kids. Moms definitely have a heightened sense of sappiness... but if the pay-off is gratitude then I suppose some good comes from it? I'm not going to go emblazoning "Carpe sappiness" on any tshirts soon...but I might as well...

Because why not risk being sappy if it means showing gratitude. Why not take a moment to appreciate people, and the other moms we know, especially the ones who have gotten us this far. The ones who come over the night before the party to decorate with you, even though they are averaging 5 hours sleep a night and have multiple deadlines. The ones who you call and email for everything from advice on cold medicine for your toddler to borrowing bathing suits. The ones who have never forgotten your birthday, who you let bring food to your parties, who drive you to airports, who pick up your children from school when you are in a pinch, who ask you what your kids are up to and actually want to know, who appreciate how hard we work and how hard we try. The people who show up--for weddings and wakes alike. The people with whom we are all in this together.

Sappiness isn't always so bad. And even it if is, I am betting we're kind of stuck with it.
8 comments:
Shanti said...

Beautiful way to start the morning. We're all saps but not all of us admit it. (I often proclaim to have missed the sensititivity chip, along with Brad Pitt, but I too get a little watery eyed at the holidays!)

Mia said...

Haha--you know how much I'm "all in this together"? Every time I read that line in this post the High School Musical song came into my head! Please tell me some of you know what I'm talking about...

I love the idea of the holiday kids party (did you serve crack? :)) I wish somebody in my circle did that...

Meena said...

You got me with "the people who just show up." I've had an intense year of ups and downs too and my memories are luckily spiced with a happy heart about the wonderful friends who tried to figure out what I needed without having to be asked. Who showed up and were just present. What else can you do sometimes right? Happy Holidays!

PL said...

Great Tina Fey quote, I don't know about you but I am on SO many covers haha ;>

Anonymous said...

What is with all of us and the inability to ask for help thing! I never let anybody help with parties I throw and I end up a wreck the night before but something always stops me.

SJP said...

I thought about the High School Musical song too Mia!! Haha. It's all true. Without other mom friends the days would be very long and lonely. I don't think I appreciate any of my friends outwardly as much as I do in my heart and you are right that sometimes expressing that kind of thing is supremeley cheesy to the nth degree but i know how good I feel when somebody tells me I am doing something good, so why not do it for others right?

Tani said...

Good stuff devis, thank you for this. What are the holidays without some sappy sentiments? Not the same for sure.

Susan said...
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