I knew better, I did.
My heart though, wanted so much for our Nutcracker experience to mimic that of my childhood. The sliding on of the fancy dress, hair done just right, shoes that only came out for the most wonderful of occasions. All the best of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Toy Soldiers, all the greatest of waltzing and dazzling light shows, every bit of it.
That's what I wanted, that's what I expected.
Oh, expectation. The one thing that will suck the joy out of everything.
I should have known from the start, the big reveal that left me with silent children who whispered things like, "I wanted a different surprise."...
Or the fact that we arrived late, shuffling through the dark of the theater, unable to find our seats, much to the dismay of every other person there.
Perhaps when I began to hear, "How much longer?" and "Why are there so many girls?" and "What is this even, I don't get it.".
Finally, the promise of their own nutcracker doll, only to arrive at Target and realize they sold out.
At that point, I should have taken a deep breath and reminded myself that no, this isn't the children's faults, there is no one to blame really, other than that big ole nasty E word.
The allure of expectations will take the best of us, won't it?
It sure took me.
The thing is, what I wanted was to create a magical experience, in some way, to make up for the fact that the one who made it magical for me, is no longer alive.
So as it turns out, what bloomed within me wasn't anger at the kid's attitudes, or frustration with the fellow ballet-goers. I wasn't even really mad at Target.
What bloomed was that familiar, aching, often times searing pain: grief.
I wanted so much to feel what I felt all those years going with my mom. I wanted something that simply won't be. My expectations were too high, and in the end, I had to allow some time, self care, and rest to remind me that it was okay. I was okay.
This morning I gathered my little chicks onto the couch and we snuggled deep within an old quilt that belonged to my mama. We read The Nutcracker and they began to talk about their favorite parts. As I read I heard, "Oh that's what she was doing!" and "I loved that dance!".
And with that, my heart mended, the bits of broken scraps, they fused back together and I felt her nod, my mom. I could hear her whispering right to me, "Don't be so hard on yourself, Ang. See, the kids had a great time.".
They did. We did.
And, next time, perhaps I'll remember to kick that E word to the curb. There are far too many things to be grateful for in this season. I for one, am glad I had that reminder.