St. Patrick's Day is a special day for my family. My Irish grandma, Darlin, loved St. Pat's and we always celebrated with green carnations to pin on our shirts, yummy food, stickers, cards and all things sweet and Irish. Paul loves it, too, and from before we were even married and up until I was pregnant with the third Zink boy, we hosted an annual bash at our basement bar. So many fun times were had, and I have two rubbermaid tubs full of St. Patrick's Day paraphernalia in my garage (and lots of incriminating photos of our friends tucked away for when we are old and gray) to prove it.
After we moved into our new home, one of our first goals was to build a bar just like we had at our Irvington bungalow. We optimistically brought the 4 barstools with us, boxes of glassware, beer signs, kitschy decorations, the whole deal so we could recreate the experience. Then we realized that we have a lot of kids, and we're doing good most days just feeding them and giving them baths and keeping them in clean clothes and let's face it. . .alive. So, we had to set the bar for our bar a little lower. After four years of sitting in our basement just waiting for a bar to be built, we finally had the realism and common sense to move the barstools to our garage so our kids had more room to play Lego. Someday, those barstools will party again. Maybe not with us. . .maybe at a frat house at Purdue or something. . .but someday. For now, they hold our car mats and we use them to climb up and get high stuff. Whatever.
Even with the demise of the Zink bar, we still loved St. Patrick's Day. One year on March 16, as I geared up to get out all of the decor (still in the boxes) and Lucky Charms and green outfits after the kiddos went to bed, I had some disturbing things happen.
First, Phil came home from preschool COMPLETELY JAZZED and asked if a leprechaun was going to come to our house like the leprechaun that came to visit them at school. Um, what?? That's a thing?? My world of what I thought St. Patrick's Day was (drinking delicious beer and wearing green shirts) was shattered by the fact that in some parts of our culture, the celebration of this holiday involves imaginary visitors that I need to fabricate and then incorporate into my web of lies.
"Um, guys, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?" I said, totally floored by this new information.
"Mommy, all we have to do is leave him a note! He'll come to our house and mess stuff up and leave us treats!"
I looked around my house. It already looked like multiple leprechauns lived there, along with perhaps a treeful of Keebler elves. The last think I needed was some damn leprechaun coming in and jacking up my already beautiful mess. There was flour all over my kitchen counter, the floors were filthy, breakfast and baking dishes piled in the sink, sticky bowls and spoons on the counter, the bathroom was trashed, the rug was littered with toys, and I still had snack, another meal and baths left to go before closing time.
In order to process this information, I did what all good moms do, which is turn on PBS kids and go in the other room to figure things out ALONE. With my phone. And some caffeine. Sometimes when I am just mentally lost, I zone out and get on Facebook. You guys, this is the most horrible of horrible ideas. When am I going to learn? Guaranteed if you are feeling confused or down on yourself and you get on Facebook, the first thing you are going to see is people living beautiful sparkly lives who share none of your struggles and being flat out awesome in your face. I have a generally healthy self concept, so I can normally handle people's highlight reels without any personal toll but this was not a good day for scrolling.
Of course, the first thing I saw when I got on Facebook was the beautiful and precious St. Paddy's crafts that my friend had prepared, and pictures of the green toilet water and funny things their leprechaun had done to them (like put flour all over the kitchen!) while the kids were napping. I looked around my house again. . .hey, my leprechaun spread flour all over the counter, too! And is yellow toilet water kind of like green toilet water? Kind of like a pot of gold?? I started to laugh. There is no need to compare myself to that awesome mom. I've got my own beautiful kind of St. Patrick's Day right here. I quickly came up with a plan B before Super Why was over, excited to put it into action before the morning.
We made it through the rest of the day, making mess upon mess, and the boys left Shaun the Leprechaun a little note before Paul and I tucked their sparkly clean and p.j.'ed up little bodies into bed and kissed those squishy cheeks.
"Jen," Paul said as we entered the kitchen. "The house is trashed."
"I KNOW!" I said. "I have a plan. Trust me."
Now, I'm not sure if after all of the years Paul has been the sidekick to my plans if he REALLY trusts me or not, but he went along with it anyways. Good husband.
"Get down the decorations, honey. We've got a new kind of leprechaun up in here."
For the next two hours, I cleaned the house while Paul vacuumed and decorated with all of the fun accessories from our party days. The flour spills were erased, counters were buffed to a sparkly shine, toilet cleaned, floors mopped and even some dusting with ACTUAL PLEDGE might have occurred. I wrote the kids a note from Shaun the Leprechaun, explaining to them what just went down.
Philip, Daniel, and Josh,
got your letter! Thanks for helping cleaning up your house before I
arrived tonight. I wanted to answer your question, Daniel. . .yes, I
can act like a stinker sometimes. A real stinkpot, as you say. All
of us leprechauns do. But to be sure, the very same leprechauns who
are bad sometimes are the very same leprechauns who are good
sometimes. So, tonight, I took an idea from my cousins the elves.
Do you know the ones? The little guys who helped the shoemaker and
his wife? Well, I know your Mommy and Daddy work really hard. And
that your mommy has been busy playing with you in the sunshine all
week. . .so that means she didn't have a lot of time to clean up all
of the sand and dirt and messes! So, tonight while you were
sleeping, I cleaned it all up for you and your mommy and daddy. .
.right down to the toilet! I even put up some decorations. I hope
you like them! I also hope you like the pot of gold that I left for
you. Enjoy and be good boys. . . and just remember even us stinkers
have good deep down inside!
friend Shaun the Leprechaun.
They woke up in the morning elated. TREATS!! They were a little confused as to why their Leprechaun cleaned instead of made mischief, but all I am saying is you need to set your own bar.
You hear that?
I don't like to toss out advice but this is one thing I am pretty sure of.
Set your OWN BAR.
So, this St. Patrick's Day, wear green or don't.
Drink Beer. Or don't.
Do fun crafts. Or don't.
Have a leprechaun that comes. Or don't.
But whatever you do, do you!! Only you can be yourself! Have fun!