From the gate, Easter was difficult this year. Matt traveled to France and Belgium (which got bombed by terrorist the day before we was set to ride the train into Brussels) the week of Easter, planning to fly into St. Louis the Saturday before to meet us. This means, I played single mom (with A LOT of help from my sisters, moms and nanny) and worked full time, with a broken garbage disposal and an insane work schedule for the week leading up to Easter Sunday. I woke up EXHAUSTED Saturday morning. It's extremely rare for me to actually feel physically tired, but, wow. Eight days, with five kids, alone, even with help, is rough. Period. So, my expectations for the weekend were relatively low, and despite this, for whatever reason, I totally forget, from year to year, how awful Easter really is for families with toddlers.
But think about it for a minute. We fill eggs and baskets with chocolate and jelly beans and chocolate and suckers and chocolate. They hunt for eggs, fueled by sugar, with no interest in "real food". Our parents, family, relatives and friends just have jars upon dishes of candy sitting around the house. We pump them full of this candy. We give them gifts. Then we force them into nice clothing. We take them to church where they are supposed to be both quiet and still, while they are still buzzing on a sugar high (and perhaps heading downhill.) We then want a picture because they are so stinky winky adorable in their Easter clothing, and this must happen before brunch, because, well, if it doesn't, the outfits aren't so cute anymore. We do this year after year.
I couldn't really put my finger on why Easter seems so much more tumultuous, and tantrum-filled than Christmas, but then again, I never really tried. Until today. We go to mass on Christmas Eve. They all have their adorable outfits for evening mass after a full day of good food and naps. We then open gifts and eat mounds of candy in our pajamas the next morning. We leave them in their jammies and let them just play. All day. No obligations. No fancy, smile at the camera, type pictures. Just good ol' candid fun.
I guess I really wanted to figure out what went wrong this year, because we drove all the way to St. Louis. (By we, I mean me getting all 5 kids packed and ready alone. There was a point on Saturday morning that I was not sure we were actually going to be able to make it out of the house. Not my finest moment. It never would have happened if my Mother-in-law hadn't taken them the night before to let me pack, and then rode up with us that morning. I think she was also played an integral role in helping me get out of my speeding ticket, from the woman cop, state trooper...oops.) I had all their clothing set out, as well as my own dress. I had time to shower. I got us all ready (Matt helping minimally, but he's in charge of the family Easter egg hunt AND had returned from France/Belgium the night before. His father helping bathe Mitch who had a blow out right before dressing change.) We could have made it to 10:30 mass, but, when it came to it, neither of us could stand to put ourselves through the torture. We had 5 wild children. It would be a sweaty, anxiety provoking hour or so of just corralling and shushing our children. So, we accepted the Catholic guilt, and just skipped it. Which, prompted me to assess the situation and try to figure out what we could have done to make it go differently.
First. No more candy in the eggs or Easter basket (except their Laura Littles' Chocolate Bunny, of course). The stuff sitting around is ENOUGH.
Second. Real breakfast. Eggs. Bacon. Yogurt. The works.
Third. As early a mass as possible. Maybe even save baskets and egg hunt for after.
Fourth. Maybe pictures after mass, before the potential hunt (if it gets moved). Then they are free to play as they please for the day.
Yup. I think that's it.
Despite all of this, it was a truly Happy Easter, filled with joy, blessings, family and love...with a few melt-downs in between.