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To the mom whose Christmas wasn’t what she had hoped: 

I get it. I’m here too.

Maybe you pinned recipes and made grocery lists and bought new dinnerware and dreamt of inviting loved ones into your home—only to have plans canceled at the last minute by circumstances out of everyone’s control. 

Maybe you had a bucket list of holiday memories you hoped to make, but you didn’t even scratch the surface because #life.

Maybe you had an unexpected empty seat at the table, and your heart felt the absence in a big way.

Maybe the last year has been unbelievably hard on your finances, and even though you know in your heart it isn’t stuff that makes the holidays joyful, you can’t help grieving the empty space that glared at you from under the Christmas tree.

Maybe your whole family came down with sniffles—or worse—that left you laid up on the couch for a week straight with no stomach for eggnog and cookies and no energy to make any holiday magic. 

Maybe your mental health left you gasping for air, and it was all you could do to go into autopilot and put one foot in front of the other. 

RELATED: Moms Do it All in December—And We’re Exhausted

There are a million reasons why you might be feeling the disappointment of dashed holiday expectations right now, but it all comes down to this: 

You wanted everything to be perfect for Christmas, and it wasn’t.

Just like that, the season came and went, and it was nothing at all like you had hoped.

I get it. I do. 

It’s especially hard when everyone on social media seems to have had the dreamiest, most magical holiday ever. The more you scroll through smiling faces in matching pajamas, the more the guilt creeps into your heart.

The thing is, Christmas isn’t just a “let’s try again next year” thing for us mamas. 

No, when we’re raising littles, each and every Christmas is sacred to us. It’s a marker of fleeting time because every year the little souls we adore are a little older and wiser and lose a little bit of that sweet, innocent belief.

When holiday plans go astray, it feels like we missed our chance to have these exact, priceless memories with our kids while they’re this exact, priceless age. 

And we can’t bear that thought, because next year . . . things might be different. The magic might not be the same. For moms whose hearts already ache at how quickly our children are growing, that’s a tough pill to swallow. 

But can I let you in on a little secret? On a truth I’ve found myself clinging to the last few days as I place ornaments back in their boxes and fold stockings away until next December?

The real magic of raising kids isn’t found at Christmastime. 

It can feel that way, I know. But it’s simply not true.

The real magic of motherhood is found in tiny moments sprinkled throughout the 364 days that make up the rest of the year. 

There’s magic in pancakes, stained pajamas, and cartoons on Saturday mornings in March.

There’s magic in backyard sprinklers on the hottest days of summer.

RELATED: The Only Parts of Childhood That Last Forever Are the Memories, and I Don’t Want To Be Too Busy To Make Them With You

There’s magic in ice cream cone dates on the first and last days of the school year.

There’s magic in the middle of the night when your oldest who always sleeps by himself crawls into bed beside you and tucks himself into the crook of your arm.

There’s magic in the excitement when she loses her first tooth.

There’s magic in the laughter at the dinner table on a random Tuesday night.

As moms, we count ourselves the magic makers of the holiday season.

We build the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas up to be the one time of year when we have to pack everything good and sacred about their childhood in—and when things don’t go as planned, it’s hard not to feel like we failed. Like we missed out on a really, really big opportunity we’ll never get back. And who knows, maybe we did—or maybe the only opportunity we’re missing is the chance to treat each day with the same wonder as we do Christmas.

Mama, it’s OK to feel disappointed.

It’s OK to feel like we missed out on something. We’re only human, after all.

But let’s not dwell so much on what wasn’t that we miss out on the mundane sweetness that’s just ahead.

The holidays are so special, but the everyday? That’s where the good stuff really lives, I promise.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

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Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward

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