We're happy to be here - Merry Christmas!

We all know Christmas is tricky. We put pressure on ourselves and our loved ones to somehow make this one day of the year perfect, and we feel like failures if it isn’t. And it happens every year, so we think we should learn from our mistakes and do it better next year. But it never quite turns out, unless we let go and let it be good enough. Here’s how I did just that this year:

My uterus still hurts. The recovery from the relatively minor Hysteroscopy, D & C,  polypectomy surgery I had almost three weeks ago isn’t going well, unfortunately. I was supposed to be better after a few days, but I got a bacterial infection. And, despite antibiotics and pain pills all week, I’m still ouchie.  So I’ll go in for an ultrasound this Tuesday so my doc can look around in there and figure out what the heck. And she’ll fix it.

But today is Christmas. And it’s a bummer to be ouchie on Christmas, and during the weeks leading up to Christmas. There was so much I wanted to get done before today…so many ideas and plans that didn’t get accomplished. Instead, I’m sitting up in bed, with a hot water bottle on my belly, watching TV while the kids play with new games and read books in the other room.

My poor uterus has been hurting for a long time. I went in to see my doctor the day after the Lunar Eclipse, and she showed me these pictures she took during surgery, on December 6th. I thought for sure it was the moon, which made her laugh.

It's not the moon, it's my uterus!

“This is your uterus!” she said, and pointed at that big bulge, that picture in the lower right hand corner, which is just ONE of the polyps she removed. Sheesh. No wonder it hurt, huh? We both thought I’d feel so much better with that thing out. Who wouldn’t?

So not getting better was such a bummer for me, psychologically, and physically, too. My doctor’s super smart, so I’m not worried about dying, I’m just sick of being sick, and hanging out in bed.

Day after day for weeks, I kept thinking I’d soon be well enough to go Christmas shopping. And then do some fun cooking and crafts with the kids. And find all the Christmas decorations packed away in the garage from our move this summer, like the stockings I made for us when the kids were babies. I bought extra fabric when the first kid was born, so I could make them all match as I had more babies. We really like those stockings. They look like childhood.

And we were all excited about the angel for the tree that’s been lost for six years, which finally re-appeared and got put in an “easy to find” box stacked somewhere “easy to find” by the nice mover and me. Finally, said the kids, we’ll have her on top of the tree again!

Except it’s not easy to find anything when you walk out to the cold garage and get tired just looking at the aisles of boxes stacked up over your head, and the thought of moving them just a little to see if you’ve got the right box makes your uterus hurt more.

Sigh. One more year of a naked tree top isn’t the end of the world. In the light of eternity. Right?

So finally, I just stopped worrying about stuff, and a funny thing happened when I gave up on making Christmas special and fun. As soon as I let go of trying to make everything work, it worked on its own, and I appreciated the little things, instead of whining about the bigger things.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the past few weeks:

  1. Listen to your body. If it says it hurts too much, it hurts too much. Everyone is different. I was supposed to be better in four days, but it took me 8 days before I called the doctor. Let your doctors and nurses do their jobs. You’re not bugging them when you call for help, even if they’re busy. They deal with sick patients all day long. It’s their job.
  2. Ask for help. I kept thinking I’d be better in a few days, so I didn’t call friends for help. A friend who called two weeks in felt horrible she didn’t know sooner, and then entertained my kid at her house for a whole day, which he loved.
  3. Give up on perfect. My husband has been great at taking care of me, and I found it was much easier on both of us when I gave up on trying to micro-manage the details. I was happy he cooked dinner. I didn’t care what it was, because I had no appetite due to the pain (hey, bonus, I’ve lost 6 pounds!) and I didn’t eat much, but the kids were fed. More importantly, I knew the kids knew Dad would take care of them, even if Mom was sick.
  4. Your kids are happy to have you around, presents or no presents. I bought a few things for the kids’ stockings before the surgery, thinking I still had weeks before Christmas to fill in the details. Oops. My husband got a few presents the kids asked for, but my teenage girls were happy with a hand written card from me promising each of them an out of town mommy and me trip to events they’ve been asking to attend.
  5. Have fun with the little things: We had some grand plans to make Christmas week extra special this year, but ended up cutting out snowflakes and playing poker, and watching movies. Decorating store-made cookies and gingerbread house kits really is just as fun as making them from scratch. Going for a little hike with your dad and your dog on Christmas day while your mom stays in bed isn’t so bad.

The other day my husband and I talked about the stories we remember from our childhood. I choose to remember all the good ones. It’s easier that way. We’re smack dab in the middle of our children’s childhood right now. Year after year, we’re helping them create the narrative of the things they’ll remember later.

I choose to make our lives good enough, for the moment, and together, we’ll come up with pretty good stories. They can remember what they want. I hope it’s good enough.