As I begin a new year, I'm looking at my lessons learned. There are so many.
1. When telling friends that you'll meet them for Christmas Eve Mass, arrive a solid 35 minutes after you told them you'd arrive, so as to encourage the Christmas spirit in everyone.
2. When attending said Christmas Eve Mass, make sure that your son's shoe is not all the way tied, so that he may lose the shoe outside in the snow and 13 degree temperature before ever making it inside the church.
3. When the church is jam packed, and the ushers are telling you that even Standing Room Only is full, push past them and proceed to walk up and down the side aisles searching for your friends. Friends who were saving you seats nearly an hour, fighting off old women who wanted those precious seats. Also, while moving up and down the aisles, make sure you don't put your son's shoe back on so that everyone you pass may comment on "how cute" he is.
4. When considering going to Christmas Eve Mass, double check your intentions. Do you intend to have a transcendent experience? Do you intend to listen to the music and homily? If so, do not bring two small children. And if you do, make sure you allow your son to play with your family heirloom 100-year-old gold bracelet engraved with your name, that you only wear on special occasions. Then when he proceeds to break it, take deep, deep breaths instead of yelling at him during this glorious ceremony - which you are not paying attention to.
5. When you leave the house on a date night, expect to come home and find your children sleeping soundly and proceed to get your pajamas on. Then, check on your 21-month-old daughter before going to sleep and expect to see two large pools of blood outside of her mouth that she coughed up while sleeping. Then proceed to the ER at 11:30pm so that she may sing songs, make friends, and play with all those she meets until 1:30am while your husband sleeps on the bed in the ER room. This scene will end with nothing being wrong with your daughter except a "nose bleed that came out her mouth", but it will provide ample good memories for all involved.
6. When helping the children brush their teeth, make sure you look away from your 21-month-old daughter long enough so that she may begin using her toothbrush as a tile scrubber on the floor by the toilet. When you take it away from her so that you may wash it off, make sure she's livid (actually that will occur on its own).
7. When leaving the children to go to sleep on their own, after having read multiple books, told an original story, sang lullabies, rubbed backs, scratched heads, and given drinks of water, do not be fooled by the call:
Audrey: Mama! Hep wif bankets! Mama! Hep. Wif. BANKETS!
8. When you find your daughter in a dark bathroom holding a large Minnie Mouse over the toilet. Think nothing of it.
me: What are you doing, Audrey?
me: Why do you want the the toilet open?
Audrey: Minnie (she dangles Minnie over the closed toilet).
me: What about Minnie?
Audrey: Minnie. Poop.
me: No. No. Minnie is not going to poop on the toilet.
Audrey: Minnie. Poop. Open.
9. When your 3.5-year-old spends the majority of his day crying, screaming, and saying no, just look to your daughter sitting in her highchair eating her lunch.
Audrey: (singing) The itsy bitsy spider went up... (pause) Sean cwying.
Audrey: What happened, Mama?
me: Sean does not want to flush the toilet.
Audrey: Oh. (pause, then more singing) Down came the rain...
10. When you're having a bad day, ensure that your husband knows just what to do to cheer you up. Flowers, a balloon, loving cards and thoughts from family and friends. A list of things that the kids love about having you as a mom.
Tom: So what do you guys love about mom?
Sean: Snuggling with her.
Audrey: Paying (playing).
Tom: What else?
Sean: She helps me find things.
Tom: Anything else?
Sean: Letting kids help to wrap presents.
And then when the children draw pictures for you to lift your mood, may I suggest (for we failed to do this) that you turn on the video camera to record their drawings and explanations. Sean achieved his first ever stick drawing of our family - 4 stick figures. I was amazed at his stick figure abilities: a circle for the head with two small circles for eyes and sprouts of hair on top. Then two long sticks coming out of the head as legs, and two tiny, tiny sticks as arms. In order to differentiate the mom from the dad, Sean added two circles around the would-be chestal region.
Tom: Seancito, what are these on mom?
Sean: Those are for breastfeeding Audrey.
Sean had drawn a smaller stick figure for himself, and an even smaller one for Audrey. Poor stick girl, Audrey, could only fit one circle inside her small head, as opposed to the two Sean was able to fit on his small head. This also needed an explanation.
Sean: Dada, Audrey only has one eye... but she can still watch TV.
Let that be a lesson for you.