He haunts my dreams and wakes me in the middle of the night in a blanket of cold sweats and panic. He has been waking me and stressing me since 2011 when he was first introduced to our family of six. We accepted him into our chaotic life and the deal was for just one month out of the year. Thank God for that! He was a pretty good boy at first but then started messing my house up! Making snow angels in the flour. Dating my daughter’s Barbie dolls. Sipping syrup like a lunatic. He sucked us in with his “cute as a button” charm and impish looks and my kids fell in love with this tiny red creature. They even NAMED it!!
That supposedly lovable little Elf on the Shelf.
We all caught Elf fever when my youngest was just toddling around the house. The glow of white LED lights from our real tree twinkling in the background of our tiny living room. The peaceful roar of the fire, the stockings, the tinsel. Wait, what? NO tinsel. That shit gets everywhere.
It was fun. At first.
My kids were in L-O-V-E love with this 30-cm doll. So, like any Mom would do just to see her kids faces light up at any chance she could find, every November 23rd, (my birthday) I went on ELF-overload. Staying up all night “pinning” ideas. The naughty ones and the cute ones. Creating an ELF ON THE SHELF Pinterest board was fun back then. 100 plus ideas for your Elf on the Shelf. He wrapped the toilet with wrapping paper?? Who the hell as the time to do that? What Mom would be out of her mind enough to wrap her toilet in the middle of the night? Aren’t we all sleepless zombies who just want five minutes peace!? Peeing on the seat was about to take on a whole new meaning.
Actual snowmen in the freezer.
Fruit Loop messages on the counter.
100 Christmas bows taped to the kitchen cupboards.
An epic battle with Lego Star Wars figures.
Taking filtered photos and uploading them to social media.
I’m exhausted just reading that list. But I did it. For my kids.
I lied to them for years. That Elf doesn’t move on its own. It’s ME! YOUR MOM (and sometimes Dad when I forget!) is moving that little fucker. “Why didn’t Elfie move last night?” Because your parents forgot and then were too tired to think of something really good for him to do!
ME: “I guess you must have touched him by mistake!”
KID: <crying> “NO! I swear I didn’t!!”
Me: <mutters under breath> Shit. “You better go to bed or Elfie will tell Santa you didn’t listen to your mom.”
OH, THE LIES! I feel like the Grinch. For 10 years (more if you count the “Santa brings all the presents” bullshit I’ve been feeding my kids.)
I’m the one eating the cookies and taking the bite out of the carrots!!
I don’t even like milk!
I’m staying up all night counting every single gift to make sure you each have the same amount with the same value so you don’t feel like I love one over the other more. “You’re all my favourite!”
That more than one Christmas Eve I spent bawling my eyes out to your Dad because there was hardly anything to wrap.
The morning I held my breath waiting for you to cry because you “only” got a big Fox stuffy and a toboggan because that was all we could afford that year. (Turns out that Fox stuffy was the most treasured gift of my daughter’s and to this day talks about the moment she found it under the tree.) Turns out that was the best Christmas ever. I’m sorry, what?
Running to the car in my socked feet to grab the forgotten toy of the year that everyone was frantically searching for. I got one! Best Mom ever!
Or was I?
I certainly didn’t feel like Mom of the Year. The guilt and tears most Christmas Eve’s I spent are long gone now but the memory of it rises up tonight and its only December 9.
This year I wanted to stop lying to my kids. Well, my 16-and-a-half-year-old doesn’t believe the Elves move (yea, we have two of those assholes now, but that’s another story!) Thank God for that but the little one does. She’s almost 9 so not so little anymore. I sit here sipping my cold tea, I struggle with my lies. I’m done with lying. The little red dude doesn’t move as much as he used to. He “forgets” to move five times a week. He no longer creates elaborate and eye-popping, razzle dazzle feats in the kitchen these days. He’s more laid back and really needs a bath. He kinda sits there and stares into space. Maybe I should tell them he’s “meditating”! 😉
How do I tell them the truth? About Santa, about the elves. Do I take away their magic and wonder? Do I want to risk never seeing the excited looks on their faces Christmas morning to see what presents “Santa” left for them ever again? What if I want to hold onto their childhood just a bit longer?
This morning I woke up and my first thought was, ‘My oldest child, the one with the golden curls is going to be 17 years old.” I call them my babies and they complain, grumble and groan at the dinner table each night as I do. I can’t help it! Haven’t you read, “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch? I recounted to them the story of how a Mom has a baby and at each stage of that baby’s life, the Mommy says, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” She rocks the baby as she sings throughout her son’s entire life. Baby, toddler, teen, adult. THEN THE MOM GETS SUPER OLD AND THE ADULT SON HAS TO ROCK HIS MOTHER! IT’S THE SADDEST FUCKING BOOK, DO NOT READ IT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BAWL LIKE A BABY YOURSELF. The point I was trying to make to them as they stared at me like I was a crazy cat lady is that it would never matter to me how old they got, including age 45, they would always, in fact, be a baby to me. My eldest hates when we laugh our asses off whenever we recall his crooked glasses, pulled up to the knees socks and his bird calling days. But I love it. He’s my baby. They’re all my babies and I would do anything for them. Including laying on a throne of lies. For 10 years. Oh, the lies, lies, lies.
And while I still struggle to remember to move that damn Elf on the Shelf and I will probably still feel guilty and worry Christmas Eve that I didn’t do enough or buy enough, I decided I will do it one more year. One more year of keeping the magic alive. One more year of eating cookies and pouring the warm milk down the sink. I was going to tell them this weekend that I’ve been lying to them since like, forever… But I’m waiting. They won’t always be little, will be grown-up before I know it and have babies of their own. That little Elf on the Shelf will be in a box under the stairs. NO WAY. I’m passing that jerk face onto my kids so they can have a turn at stumbling around in the dark at 2 AM on a Saturday. I know they’ll want to make their kids deliriously happy just like I did. And maybe if I’m lucky, they’ll remember all the crazy, messy lies their mom told them just to see them smile at Christmas and every chance she got. Because as long as I’m living my babies they’ll be.
P.S. Now to search Pinterest to find something creative for that Elf and his girlfriend, Jingle to do.