You Have My Permission to Lose It

Andy Rooney once said, “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day.” 

There was indeed a glorious mess in my living room on Christmas Day. In fact, in many ways it felt like any other Christmas morning. The girls woke up far too early, we unwrapped Santa then exchanged our own gifts, had breakfast … but that’s where ‘the normal’ ended. No grandparents stopped by to see what Santa brought; no huge Christmas brunch with my dad’s beloved omelettes. Spending an entire Christmas Day at home was anything but normal. No extended family gatherings had lined the weekends leading up to the 25th, no ‘Phase 10’ or ‘Catan’ battles or seeing once-a-year aunts and uncles.

A few days shy of Christmas, the inevitable blues hit me. “But how lucky I am,” I said repeatedly. My family is healthy; I have a good job; I’ll spend the day with the people I love most in this world. But still …

One of the sweetest women I know recently lost her sister and will lose her mother soon. Another just lost her husband of 50 years. My best friend’s parents are currently battling COVID. Another’s father-in-law is intubated in ICU. So many I know are dealing with such heartache. Then, on top of it all, the news hit out of the U.K. that a mutated strand is spreading more rapidly … and that it may infect kids more easily. 

You want to talk about a glorious mess? You should’ve seen me Monday after the girls went to bed. 

Two words: ugly cry.

As a parent, I’ve consoled my girls over the past nine months as change after change has occurred. I’ve let them know that it’s okay to grieve the experiences they’ve lost, and that now includes those at Christmas. I let them know it’s okay to be scared. Kids need to know that it’s okay to feel all of their emotions.  

So do adults. 

I know there are people like me — especially mothers — who have pushed down those emotions this holiday season; whether it be grief, or fear, or even some anger. I see you out there, being strong for those you love. But throughout the past nine months, I’ve learned that I’ve got to give myself permission to feel everything. And I mean everything. 

With Christmas behind us, and the preposterous amount of unknowns still ahead in 2021 … if anyone out there feels like they need permission, here it is. 

It’s okay to be scared. 

It’s okay to be mad. 

It’s okay to have a lot of what ifs in your head. 

It’s okay to cry. 

It’s okay to lose your shit completely. 

It’s okay to have a lot of different emotions all together while you’re sitting on your couch, crying over ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ with a plate of leftover sugar cookies in your lap. 

Yes, it’s important to acknowledge the many things for which you should be grateful. But it’s also okay to be a glorious mess yourself sometimes.

* This column first appeared in The Walton Tribune on December 26, 2020 *

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