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The Inner Monologue of an Anxious Mom at Christmastime

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It’s 10 p.m. as my body starts to relax into my bed. My eyes suddenly shoot open and clawing anxiety rises in my chest as thoughts continue racing.

What did I pick out for Aunt Susan? I have to remember to take my daughters to pick out a gift each for their dad. Did I transfer some money out of savings to cover the extra gifts this year for teachers? How much am I supposed to spend on my siblings again? Should my husband and I skip gifts for each other again? Will he really skip gifts for me or do I need to have something bought and wrapped just in case?

Ugh, I’m supposed to meet my mother tomorrow to help her decorate for Christmas. I told her I would be there early, but I’m so tired. Tomorrow is going to be such a long day. Again.

Crap. Did I move the elves? I cannot believe my dear husband started the elves for us. He know I struggle to sleep at night because I worry about things undone and he goes and begins elves. And now he’s gone for a week so I can’t forget to move the elves.

OK, elves are moved.

While I’m up, I should check the tracking on some of the gifts I ordered online. With COVID-19, can I even trust the shipping dates mentioned? Tracking should be accurate though, right?

Man, I hate Christmas. Money is tight, I have to buy gifts for way too many people, decorating is so time consuming and all the goodies just make me feel bad. But now that I’m a mother? I really, truly despise Christmas. Advent calendars, elf on the shelf, visiting Santa, writing letters to Santa, changing their minds at the last minute about what they want for Christmas and worst of all is having our children write little lists about what they want for Christmas while we try to explain that giving is better than receiving by buying even more stuff and throwing it in a box for Toys for Tots.

I’m such a grinch. Toys for Tots is an amazing organization. But my children don’t learn anything by throwing toys in a box. What can I do to make sure they’re learning a love of giving? Do I even have time to add in some volunteer activities?

That’s it. My kids are going to be selfish, spoiled brats and it’s all my fault. But I’m just so tired. All I want to do is lie down and forget about everything. Why can’t I turn off my mind?

It’s 2 a.m.? No! I’m not going to be able to sleep again. Let me write some things down on a list and see if that helps.

3:31 a.m. 3:32 a.m. But do I have enough gifts for my kids? Which ones should be “from Santa”? I know I bought mittens or gloves, but which was it again? I’ll check real quick. Gosh, my stomach just hurts. Tied up in knots. I know it’s just anxiety and I’ve got to relax if I’m going to get any sleep. I’ll put on some sleep mediation music.

4 a.m. A photo mug! That’d be a perfect present from my daughters to their granddad. I need to write that down so I don’t forget.

5:49 a.m. 5:50 a.m. Well, sleeping would just make me more tired at this point.

Exhaustion is a weight around my shoulders and dread for the day pools in my stomach. All I want to do is stay in bed for a year and ignore everything and everyone else.

I’m such a bad mom. Why can’t I enjoy the magic of Christmas with my little kids before they’re too old? I shouldn’t be wishing the years away. I’ve got to stop wishing the years away. OK. I’ll write any tasks down, then put this out of my mind, get up and start getting the kids ready for school.

At the bus stop, drop’m exhausted, irritable and hate myself for struggling so hard at a time that’s supposed to be filled with joy and funping off my kids:

Wait, what about Christmas cards? We haven’t even taken a family photo yet this year. Are photographers even working yet? I didn’t budget that in. Can we skip it? No, we can’t skip it this year when visiting is so difficult.

I’ll manage it.


My anxiety multiplies exponentially when under pressure, and for me, Christmastime is one big pressure cooker. As a mother, I’m single-handedly responsible for the magic and memories of Christmas — not to mention all the normal tasks of having a 5- and 6-year-old, a husband in the military and a full-time job.

Most of the time, I don’t feel like I’m managing it at all. I’m exhausted, irritable and hate myself for struggling so hard at a time that’s supposed to be filled with joy and fun. But it’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re gripped by the cycle of anxiety that feeds into beating yourself into depression, which makes your anxiety flare further because you’re worried that your depression will crush the holidays… like I said, cycle. I have to just grab my support system for the month of December and hope for New Year’s Day to come quickly.

Getty image via Daniel Besic

Originally published: December 16, 2020
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