I know. It’s on the “list.” The list of things that must be done between laundry loads, diaper changers and toddler tantrums. I know you picked just the right outfits. I know you are armed with enough toys, snacks and wipes to save a village of wolf raised children from starvation, death by boredom and smothering in the mysterious substance all young children produce with their fingers.(  At my house we call it: mystery goo. The gunk left behind on every surface by children under 10.  I believe it’s produced in glands that disappear right around puberty when the other glands kick into overdrive.) I know you’re watching the clock and praying Santa doesn’t need another “break” while you stand in the line of mom-torture.

I know your hands are sweaty because the signs say “no photography” but your pictures are always better than the ones the 14 year old behind Santa cam takes, and your camera is both charged and has a memory card in it. I probably know this because I’ve been sipping a late’ with my feet up for an hour, watching you check the battery and sd card between swiping mystery goo, the inevitable Christmas snot fest and promising everything from mcdonalds to ponies based on your escalating desperation for a “good” picture with Santa. I know you’re conflicted about taking the pics, I also know how much the santa cam charges. It’s insane. I’ve been there. 3 children’s worth. 

I also know late’ sippers who watch the santa line are 1 of 3 things: creepy, judgey or weepy. I fit the latter category. I promise. And I’ve got your back against the others. You don’t know this, but I’m cheering you on and praying that between boogers and poops and bribes you find a moment or two to savor all that isn’t torture about this time. 

The look of wonder at an indoor scene that looks like a broadway production. (Sheesh, I grew up with just: santa on a fake throne. There were no animated creatures or movie themes to help distract us. Which is probably why our parents all drank and smoked.) I hope you see the joy in your child’s eyes every time they move a step closer to santa. I hope you see the moms and dads around you. They’re All with you in this.  They’re also just as stressed and rushed as you are. Yup. Even that perfect chick who’s outfit matches, who’s hair is styled, and who’s make up is perfect with the kid reading a book in his britax stroller. You’re in this together. Run out of wipes or goldfish crackers? They’re there for you. 

I also hope you know this: eventually, this line will end. You’ll get your overpriced but precious pictures. You will survive and the kids will pass out in their car seats due to a goldfish coma on the way home. That little bit of spit up or pee left behind on santa? No worries, there’s a tide pen hidden in his beard, and the red velvet is actually teflon. Santa knows more than just who’s been bad or good. He’s got Mrs claus packing his bag for goodness sake! 

Finally, I hope you know that not only will the line end, but someday, much sooner than you think and you won’t know until it’s past- your days in the santa line will end too. Maybe you’ll get a year of pseudo protest as a warning. “Mom, I don’t want to wait for santa! The line is too long. I’ll email him.” And then, it’s over. Pictures with Santa become sweet memories. (It’s a little like labor and child birth, somehow we forget the pain.) 

Eventually, they go to the mall on their own. To shop for you. (Or cvs for last minute gift cards… whatever. Older kids are like that.) then, you’ll join me, the judgers who want to feel better about themselves by judging you’re parenting in the santa line up. (Which, if you ask me is a little like judging someone’s parenting in a war zone. Some circumstances are simply about survival. Duh.) and the creepy ones. You’ll stand guard against creeps with a late in hand and tears in your eyes. Not because you didn’t know this season of life would pass so fast. 

It does.

It will.

So dear mom in the santa line- if you’re desperately seeking refuge in the distraction of the internets, you’re safe here. I know it’s stressful. I know it’s torture. And I know it’s precious. I’m with you. All of us moms who’ve been there are. And we just want you to savor it like that one hot cup of coffee you last had 2 years ago. It was probably between poopy diaper changes and tantrums and laundry loads as well. Which is when the very sweetest parts of mom life always happen.

You are loved. You got this. Carry on. Ps: while the kids sleep in the car on the way home? Hit the drive through for a hot coffee and drive around looking at lights. You’ve earned it. 

Ps: always buy the cheapest photo package and ask to take your own pics. Puhleeze. Santa isn’t a jerk. Just, you know, don’t bring your own makeup crew and backdrop. There are other moms behind you trying to survive the line. Merry Christmas- from one mom to another- ;) 

Oh- and to the mom who doesn’t do santa? We’re with you too. Different doesn’t have to separate us;) happy whatever you celebrate, too!