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What the Elf on the Shelf Tells You About Me as a Mom…

December 11, 2023

Our Elf is named Barry.

I don’t remember when we got him. Of course, he came with the hard cover book in a special box that the kids pulled him out with, ooghing and aghing and touching him with reverence.

I knew there were certain rules to follow regarding Barry, as the book clearly stated. It’s funny, because I always thought I was a stickler for rules. I bow to authority. I like to be the “good” one in a group, the essential people pleaser. But the darker parts of me that love a good rebellion created our own rules for Barry.

In my house, we were able to touch him. I didn’t like that whole story about him not being able to be touched by humans because he was from Santa. Sure, I got the point, but I didn’t like it, so I changed the rule. I realized later why I did that. To save myself from even more stressful situations.

Barry was a symbol of my continuous failure to follow through, so I began to resent the little guy. A lot.

I’m not a Pinterest girl. Sure, I love pretty pics and cool ideas, but I’m not a great cook, or DIY crafter. I can barely function on a day to day basis. At the end of a long ass day, when the kids finally go to bed, I simply CANNOT REMEMBER TO MOVE THE F—G ELF.

My husband goes to bed much earlier, so it was always on me. When I stumble upstairs, the last thought in my mind is to figure out where a “fun, cool” place Barry should be. I had the same spots like I did when the Easter bunny came and the boys commented on it.

Why is Barry always in the wreath?

 Doesn’t Barry ever go to the north pole anymore to report to Santa?

 Is Barry broken?

No. Just his mother, my darlings.

 Eventually, like all wonderful and terrible things in life, Barry disappeared and aged out. My boys figured out the truth and I thought it was over.

Not in my house.

My boys are sixteen and eighteen years old. And every damn Christmas, they forage through the boxes for Barry, bring him out and tuck him into his special place, then demand I hide him every night.

At first, this was adorable. My babies wanted to keep a treasured piece of their childhood. I did this for a few nights, having fun finding unique places to hide Barry. Then they’d have contests in the morning to see who could find him first, good naturedly ribbing the other.

But, then I was done. Unfortunately, they were not.

They began to whine and ask me why I kept forgetting. That I was ruining the Christmas game.

And once again, Barry came out to taunt my failure.

Once again, I scrolled through social media and found endless pictures of the Elf tucked in funny spots, of delighted children and wonderful mothers who brought the game to a whole new level. Talented, caring mothers who spent their free time carefully making sure their kids always remember the magic of the Elf and Christmas.

Yeah. F—that.

I’m done with Barry. I’ve made peace with my failures as a mom – and hell, there were plenty of failures.

I am the Mom who shows up on the wrong day to read Dr. Seuss while my kids cringe in embarrassment. I am the one who mixes up teacher/parent conferences while my neighbor takes pictures of my kid getting awards. I am the mom who sends them to school on pajama day with mismatching, too short pj pants. Their lunches are the same 365 days of the year and I don’t care. I pick them up from school looking like an escaped psych patient – with loungewear not meant for public viewing and crazy ass hair and stunned, wide eyes because I’ve been ripped from my manuscript and I don’t know what reality is. I’m usually in pink sandals no matter what the season. I’m a mess.

Guess what?

I’m good with all of it now. My kids are the bomb. And I had a major part in morphing them into adulthood. I’m consistently amazed at how kind and good their hearts are, how funny and smart and sweet they are.

I never needed Barry in the first place.

And if you are a Mom like me?

You don’t either.





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