By Lauren Gonalez

The Holiday Taliban (This is War)

Ah, fall – the time of year when the weather chills, and the leaves change color. That magical season when your Facebook feed is suddenly overflowing with photos of pumpkin-spiced-everything, and festive leggings.

A creature of habit, I usually greet October with traditional fanfare, loading up my Netflix queue with classics like “Scream,” “Halloween,” “Hocus Pocus,” and maybe – if I’m feeling exceptionally brave – a few seasons of “American Horror Story.” I spend my afternoons and evenings curled up on the couch with a hot cocoa, or, on occasion, the obligatory pumpkin-spiced-whatever, and binge watch scary television until I’m adequately scared shitless. I’m known to sleep with the light on from mid-October until early November, always with one eye open in case the creature from “Stranger Things” emerges from our crawlspace. It’s all part of the fun of the season!

This year, though, my celebratory lineup looks a little different. Actually, it’s non-existent. My son is now old enough to semi-comprehend (and have nightmares about) TV violence. We’re still trying to forget the “Sharknado” nightmares of this past Spring. And my daughter, who isn’t quite old enough to form a coherent sentence, is yet somehow able to shriek with the intensity of a starving hawk circling her prey, and bark incomprehensible orders at anyone trying to enjoy himself in her vicinity. My kids are the “Halloween Taliban” mentioned by Drake and Future, sucking every shred of joy and peace from the season with their own unique brand of toddler terrorism.

Since having children, the holiday season has admittedly lost some of its sparkle. While I once dreamt of experiencing the holiday season a la Gloria Estefan – through the fresh eyes of my offspring – and of creating warm holiday memories with them, my kids were born with no innate sense of decorum. These aren’t the warm, peaceful holidays I reminisce about from my childhood. Every tradition, every attempt to create memories, is a battle of epic proportions.

This is war.

And I’ll make my children have fun this holiday season if it kills me. I’m fighting tooth and nail to reclaim every ounce of fun, frivolity, and celebration. I’m striving to remain one step ahead of the madness, mapping out my game plan, and changing my approach to incorporate their special type of insanity. I’m attempting to satisfy my slasher film cravings with movies more their speed, although it’s difficult to get that delicious taste of fear from “Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest.”

I’m carting my kids to pumpkin patches, haunted playgrounds, and parades, undaunted by the fact that they prefer playing in goat poo to perusing farm-grown pumpkins, and are more horrified by butterflies than by adults in costume. I’m Pinteresting like crazy, saving link after link for pumpkin decorating, recipes for Rice Krispie treat monsters, searching for anything even slightly festive, and with the lowest potential for mess (obvi).

I’m heading into this holiday season with my eyes wide open. I’m stocking up on rations to get us through the siege: wine to combat the whining, chocolate to placate the whiners. I’m fully aware that what I hope will be an hour-long arts and crafts activity will probably occupy them for five minutes, and then things will devolve into hitting and screaming. I’m prepared to cook a Thanksgiving turkey with an almost-two-year-old child clinging to my leg. I’m making peace with the impracticality of my holding a candle during the Christmas Eve service, for fear of young ones setting the church aflame. I am poised and ready to make the most of this holiday season, at any cost.

‘Tis the season to be Mommy.

Lauren Elizabeth Gonzalez is a Missoula-based writer and blogger whose kids provide ample inspiration for her short stories, social media posts and articles on motherhood. Drawing on her master’s degree and background in conflict and dispute resolution, Lauren is also working on a series of how-to guides to enable parenting partners to build a stronger, more connected team dynamic. Find out more at, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter for a daily peek inside the head of a nutty gal just free mommin’ it.