Any other Professor Moms out there in the midst of juggling the grading of final exams, the finishing of scholarly-projects-with-end-of-year-deadlines, and the planning-shopping-wrapping-and-giving-of-Christmas-presents??? If you’re out there, say it with me my friends, “BREATHE, BREATHE, BREATHE.” Much, much easier said than done. On top of the regular craze of the juggling of career – mothering – and management-of-all-that-is-family/home-life, the Christmas Season just slaps on a whole other layer. It always feels like it is teetering right on the brink of complete and utter chaos. But, add the end-of-the-semester and the making-Christmas-happen to the mix, and it makes for one seriously overextended Mama. Grade and wrap, grade and wrap, grade and wrap. Red pens for grading, red markers for wrapping. Crunch time for finishing off major projects, publishers with time-lines, editors with demands. A swamp of an email inbox. Term papers from graduate students who expect lengthy feedback. Undergraduate exams hand-written in blue books — blue books that still make me quiver with anxiety (just now, for different reasons than when I was an undergrad myself). Parties and festivities and school assemblies to go to– for work and for home. Late, late nights. Early, early mornings. Wrapping paper~ check. Tape~ check. Ribbon~ check. Lists upon lists upon lists of To Do Lists. Snowpants; wool socks; hostess gifts for every party; presents for the boys’ teachers; the stamps for that slew of Christmas cards waiting to be sent; Christmas bonuses for the mailman and for the garbage truck guys and the lawn guys (and boy oh boy do those guys deserve a bundle after putting up with K & O’s adoration all year long); gifts for the department secretary and teenager who takes care of the cat when we’re gone and the neighbors who are always there for us; extra-special-super-duper-over-the-top-present for our beloved Margie (how on earth to say ‘thank you for this year?’ to her?????); hats that fit and mittens without holes; snow boots for all five; Santa Santa Santa; planning and packing for Christmas 2009. Long, lengthy and involved To Do Lists with bullets and arrows and important notes written into the margins. And then there is that other To Do List— breathe deeply; pace yourself; remember that somehow someway it will all get done; don’t freak out like your own mother did; remember the reason for the season; try to see it through their eyes; remain calm; don’t go overboard; keep it simple; be fully present; be fully present; be fully present because they are only little once and you don’t want this all to pass in a blur of hazy sleepless stress. This is important. Be with them, be within yourself, be free to truly experience it. Much easier said than done. But I am working on it.