As you may or may not recall from 1997, the “Airing of Grievances” occurs during the Festivus meal where each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. After the meal, the “Feats of Strength” are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the household is actually pinned.
In our house (circa 2013) it would appear as if this Festivus Tradition occurs on a daily basis. According to my n-FLS husband, it is my way to have an Airing of Grievances at dinner everynight following by the folly of the boys wrestling instead of putting on PJs. Everyday I try to put on a happy face and welcome my loving partner home from a hard day at work but everyday the dinner conversation seems to spiral down to my daily Airing of Grievances. I am trying hard to understand my logic because it seems as if the AoG slips from my lips like a natural progression to our conversation. I think somedays I need the AoG to ensure the following:
1) I am not crazy but I could be any day now.
2) Someone will actually listen to what I am saying and possibly retain said information for more than 30 seconds.
3) To show the boys that parents do communicate and to reiterate the fact their behavior was not tolerated.
My n-FLS husband doesnt see it this way. Apparently the AoG dissuades his illusion of his Ward to my June even though I have never worn a belted dress or heels to serve dinner. He has had a long day at work and doesn’t want the catterwalling of my AoG day in and day out. But for me the volcanic eruption of AoG is a release of much tension that has been building in the 4 hours of after school snack, doing homework and attempting to entertain without the use of the electronic babysitter. Its 4 hours of containing the after school explosion of energy that happens everyday from 2:15-6:15 in which time I have had to spend some time making our nightly Festivus dinner in which I have the opportunity to Air my Grievances.
As annoying as the AoG is for my n-FLS husband it a chance for me to be heard. For someone to truly listen to the spew coming out of my mouth. Where I don’t have to repeat myself or ask for confirmation (Do….. you…. hear…. the… WORDS …. coming…… out….. of my……. mouth? Do…. you …… understand …… the ……. words?). Its a time where someone might actually care what I have to say because no one really gave two hoots when I repeatedly explained what ‘the radius of a circle’ is and why its important to know in life. Not to mention the phrase “get your fingers out of your mouth” falls on deaf ears everytime it is spoken. When the AoG happens my n-FLS husband responds to what I am saying. He will give the evil eye to the finger sucking offender. That evil eye supports me and boosts my feeling of importance.
Because my feeling of importance deflates when I drop the kids at school, walk the dogs then come home to see assignment notebooks, lunches and library books left on the counter. So, as moms do, I pack up the neglected items and cart them off to school to be distributed to the appropiate classes. Then when school lets out I say “did anyone forget anything today” and I get no, nope, nada and no. Apparently the items magically showed up at school after they were forgotten in the morning commute. Magically. Magically mom looking out for your well being even though I wrote “this assignment notebook was left at home” on the page I signed the previous night. This is why the AoG is so important at dinner. It allows me (and any other mom who finds herself in an AoG situation) to say what I want and not just smile and giggle with the office staff on how 3/4 of my kids left something behind.
The AoG happens because conversations like this take place on the walk home from school:
Mooooooooom, George says he is going to Nick’s house tomorrow. Why does George ALWAYS get to have the most fun?
Uh, George– when did I say you were going to Nick’s house? Did you get invited to Nick’s house?
Insert blank stare here.
We’ve talked about this, George. You don’t invite yourself to other people’s houses, you have to wait to be invited.
Moooooooooom, you said I could go to Nick’s.
Uh, no I didn’t. I said I talked to Nick’s mom and Nick is coming to our house tomorrow. Remember, we talked about the playdate and how he was coming over to our house.
Mooooooooom, you said………
STOP! I know what I said and if you are disappointed in having a friend over I can cancel the playdate right now. I can text Nick’s mom if you don’t understand …… the …… words…… coming…… out ……. of……my…….mouth.
Conversations like that: wash, rinse, repeat. Its why the AoG slips from my lips like goose poop on a linoleum floor.
The AoG is resolution for me. Its my finale so I can toss the baton of responbility over to the n-FLS husband and take a breath. A breath that is needed due to the lack of oxygen in my brain because I have attemped to contain after school energy while explaining the meaning of life (or at least the concept of the radius of a circle) onto 4 sets of deaf ears. Not to mention resloving the lies and “miscommunication” that occurs due to the fact Mom doesn’t-know-squat. Mom may not-know-squat because the Festivus dinner conversation goes like this:
Mom, I had to be at school 10 min early today to read the lunch menu on the “morning news” and I was late so I couldn’t practice.
Uh, why are you telling me this at dinner? Wouldn’t this information been more pertinent at breakfast?
Mom, what’s permament mean?
But I do know something, I know who did what-when-how (but hardly ever why) and I am more than willing to share that information. I am a maternal tattletail and I want to let someone — anyone — know that I was on the ball today despite the minions who tried to derail me. I want to Air my Grievances to support a united Parental Front against the front line assult of the assignment-notebook-forgetting troops. I want to wipe my daily slate clean of all the witnessed chaos before I let my n-FLS husband take control and I can decompress. So maybe Festivus had the right idea. Do a little Airing of Grievances and move on to a little more happiness for all– a daily dose of sanity after the reality of another afternoon motherhood. Then the post shower PJ wrestling is Dad’s responsbility and hopefully he won’t get pinned to the floor. Festivus of the Rest of Us.