Serenity Now? How this suburban mom survives the holidays

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For the love of Thanksgiving, the holidays are here. Whether you’re a Pinterest-posting mom who crafts all the way through Christmas then almost snaps by Valentine’s Day or one who cringes at the mere hint of elevator carols in the decorated aisles, all I can say is I get it. I feel you. And this year is no exception. Now, I like getting together with family and friends this time of year. Slapping on the Spanx with last year’s boots and Little Black Dress and pulling out the good platters. Normally, I would roll out the Thanksgiving décor, pick out goodies for a family in need and start crossing off my Christmas list. But this year, I’m not feeling it yet. I’m procrastinating. Just a little longer. With good reason. I’m holding off and trying to close my eyes and pretend the calendar away. Can you blame me? It feels like Halloween was only a few days ago.

I have teenagers, so my world isn’t filled with tantrums and toddlers. But it is chock full of calendar alerts, cars, curfews and changing attitudes. And the looming holidays. Ones where I’m supposed to be the hostess with the mostess. So I should be a proper Betty Draper and not whine or vent. I should quietly tie my apron strings and look forward to wining and dining. But I can’t help it. I’m not ready. I’m just not in the mood yet. Isn’t it OK to just want to wallow in my jeans and pillow hair?

So can you guess my coping mechanism for the holidays? Aside from snacking on my kids’ leftover Halloween candy? Getting together with girlfriends. I like to call it my Serenity Now time. (If you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, you’ll understand.) Even my 86-year-old mother-in-law appreciates a night where she gets to gab with the girls.

I’m talking about genuine girlfriends. The ones who make you belly laugh. And like you in a Bridget Jones just-as-you-are kind of way. Nothing says Serenity Now like a text from a dear friend on a Friday at noon asking, “Do you want to grab a drink at 5 p.m.?”

Why, yes. I’ll be there with boots on!

I feel blessed to have made amazing friends throughout my life. Friends from childhood, elementary school, high school, college, jobs, early marriage, the neighborhood, school and life in general. I love my husband and family, but I also appreciate my friends. Now more than ever. As a mom of teens, I’m beyond grateful for those Serenity Now nights.

I got together with some dear girlfriends last Friday for last-minute appetizers. At 5:30 p.m. We were all home by 8 p.m. And you know what? It. Was. Glorious.

We giggled so much, my cheeks hurt. We’re in our 40’s and 50’s and when you reach that age bracket, you need to realize something. You need this time. To unwind. To laugh. To vent. To just be you. Together.

Because you deserve it. You need it. And it’s OK to escape from everything and everyone for even 90 minutes. Even at 5 p.m. Or even an 8 a.m. walk with your best friend can do the trick.

One dear friend and I once made a mommy-time Serenity Now date for 45 minutes. A last-minute get together on a Friday at 5 p.m. may sound like nothing much. But those 45 minutes of gabbing and giggling helped me get through two weeks of teen drama, professional deadlines and dozens of loads of laundry.

I’m 46 and Lord knows I’m not perfect. I sometimes bring the I-Don’t-Know-How-She-Does-It store-bought pie to a holiday party. But I also bring a smile, a hug and a giggle. I’ve learned that life is too short to try to impress everyone. As I try to psyche myself up for the holidays and get through this stormy week, I realize it’s all going to be OK. We’re going to make an awesome Thanksgiving dinner and we’re going to have a lot of fun. Christmas will be great too. Even if I don’t make it Pinterest-worthy this year.

Just remember, no one remembers the food or the vacuum lines. They remember the moments.

Holidays, relaxing

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Jackie Hennessey is a Rhode Island mom who honestly gets what other mothers go through. Having worked full-time, part-time, and been a stay-at-home mom too, she sees motherhood from a variety of angles. And thankfully, with a sense of humor. Jackie blogs about her take on motherhood and mid-life at ventingsessions.com and writes about it in her award-winning gift book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker. Jackie is a native Texan with some roots and relatives in Rhode Island. (She's a NASA kid and her Houston accent usually comes out when she's blasting Willie Nelson in the car.) She has more than two decades of experience in public relations and journalism and holds a BA in journalism from Texas A&M University, where she received the “Best Aggie-Life writer” award. (She still has the tacky maroon plaque in her home office to prove it.) Jackie was a cast member of the 2013 and 2017 Listen to Your Mother Shows, where she formed lasting bonds with the incredible women she shared the stage with in honor of Mother’s Day. Her writing has been featured in The Barrington Times, the book Mommy Diarist and blogs like Scary Mommy and BluntMoms. She has donated her PR expertise to many local non-profits from Arts Alive to Dress for Success since launching her professional pr consultancy in 2006. When she’s not writing, consulting, volunteering, ubering her kids around, vacuuming up dog hair or folding laundry while binge-watching Netflix, she likes to vent with dear friends over cheese dip. Jackie is married to her high school sweetheart and they live in Barrington, Rhode Island with their two teens and three fluffy and friendly Golden Retrievers.