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Pittman: Proceed with care in '13
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As most people are aware, because I remind them regularly, I'm pretty awesome. I have handled this whole single mom thing like a champ. Christmas, however, was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was hard to keep up the whole Elf on the Shelf, baking cookies, looking at lights (to whoever had the huge light display on Forrest Drive, thank you!), happy time that my son is used to. At least this first Christmas as a single mom/divorcee (almost) is over, and I am bound and determined that 2013 will not suck like 2012 did. Take that as a promise or a warning.

My mother is fond of saying that my life is such a disaster that I should have those orange caution rings surrounding me. I am going to take that as a sign of motherly concern for her firstborn and not an insult. That may be true, but the result is that life is rarely boring, and I always have fun stories to tell, especially around the holidays. This Christmas, the hunt was on for the LeapPad 2. I might as well have been searching for unicorns and dragons, so difficult was the task of locating a green LeapPad 2.

I never did find that thing, but settled for a Disney Princess-themed one with the thought that I could tell my son Santa said he could return it after Christmas. Colin was thrilled with it though, explaining that he liked princesses because they "sing pretty and have long hair." This did nothing to remove the scowl from my 61-year-old father's face on Christmas. This prized possession has already been taken away once for insubordination - which is a nice way of saying my son lost his mind while high on Prednisone, ripped a book and screamed that I was the worst Mommy ever. The Prednisone is the result of a Christmas Eve trip to the ER where he was diagnosed with bronchitis. Merry Christmas! At least he was with his father, so I didn't have to spend the night in the ER and could carry on as planned, with a bottle of red wine and "Pitch Perfect."

Another 4-year-old favorite was the game Pop the Pig. I have yet to understand the point of this game. Perhaps it's kind of like Jenga, but with pig bellies and miniature hamburgers. Although his enthusiasm and general excitement were evident, I imagine this much-coveted game will hang out in his closet for the next year due to my parental failures to understand the concept of making the pig's belly explode. As usual, months worth of shopping, wrapping, stressing and searching ended in three minutes and the house then looked like a bomb went off.

Spending the day with my parents, sister, sister's lame boyfriend, his insane mother, brother and sister and my mom's BFF and her husband and daughters was hanging over me like walking the plank. I would have rather set myself on fire than go, but once there, I was bound and determined to make the best of it. I was soon covered in dog/cat hair, peeling overcooked boiled eggs while my mother ate a cinnamon roll and my sister napped in between random people coming over. Once company was present, the real fun could begin.

My mother is fond of asking me - usually in front of mixed company - if I have recently had "a hot date." When I give her the stink eye and try to change the subject, she starts telling everyone about the most recent "hot date" (she always calls them this, always) that I had. She tells it incorrectly, probably on purpose, which forces me to correct her and tell the stories myself. There was the growler, the groper, the crier and the clinger. I seem to have a lot of first dates. Maybe along with those caution cones I attract the crazies. It would make perfect sense. So while I perform like a seal or an organ grinder's monkey, she smirks at me, getting pleasure out of my obvious discomfort. This is her real Christmas gift from me, the ability to harass me even at 34.

Now my house looks like a bomb has gone off in it. The hamster's cage needs cleaning, there are bits of wrapping paper and small piles of glitter all over, and the tree just looks sad and depressing without any presents underneath. But I made it through my first Christmas. There were tears and stress and a little loneliness, but that's what tissues, funny movies and wine are for. And next year? Well, next year, I'll be golden. Next stop: Valentine's Day.

Amber Pittman is a reporter for The Covington News. She can be reached at