I had to campaign to convince my husband to have babies and I used to tempt him with these fantasy family Christmas scenes.
You know, angels in John Lewis-ish nativities, starry pantos, visits to Father Christmas' knee and all that.
Teaching our perfect children about giving and family time and gratitude. I was an idiot - this is literally the most stressful period of my whole year," says Melanie, mum of Tom and Eliza.
She's not alone: doing the rounds of social media this week is Hurrah for Gin's list of Christmas horrors, including buying all the things, sponsoring all the things, and providing your own eyeballs on skewers for the PTA festive raffle.
But how bad can it really be? Some mums tell the truth about the pre-Christmas crunch...
1. Christmas fete frenzy
"I reckon I still have PTSD from the year I volunteered to run the Christmas card counter at the fete," explains Rachel. "Five minutes after school finished, the psyched-up wave of 400 parents and kids charged into a hall that was slightly too small and much too hot.
Many had come just to collect the cards their kids had designed for printing. Which was exciting, right up until Mia from Year Two's cards were not in the box. Or Roman's from Year Four. Or the twins from reception. The furious granny shaking her fist and telling me she would be getting to the bottom of this was a highlight."
2. Planning mania
"I've had 70-odd WhatsApps already today about dressing up as a giant elf, handing out candy canes from a basket, manning the tombola, finding a gold Christmas tree, flogging raffle tickets, the reverse auction - where we have to pay not to win a teddy bear the size of Norway - and baking cheese and rosemary twists to go with the mulled wine," says Lena.
3. Nativity fails
I was Mary in my nativity yet, so far, my three daughters have appeared as a donkey, a miserable innkeeper and Narrator No 9.
Despite the low dramatic status, each has required an obscure set of items including Moroccan trousers, a light-up crown and a moustache.
4. Snowing cash
Where are those rich Three Kings when you need them? What with the presents for the tombola, tickets for everything, paying to wear Christmas jumpers, buying the sodding Christmas jumpers, teacher gifts and wine or mince pies for a host of other club leaders and music teachers, you may as well move the bonkers-aisle of Aldi into your hallway and distribute parcels to everyone you meet.
5. Gifting arms race
Everyone has that one kid in the class who declares they'll be getting an iPhone, Nintendo Switch and the Barbie Dream House. If that kid is yours, please shut them up before one of the rest of us does.
6. Gaia guilt
"I have this illogical guilt that our kids will be hard done by if they don't get the giant hatching dragon's egg when their friends do," explains Siobhan, even though she knows it's destined for landfill.
Every parent then goes off on the "we'll just buy experiences" path, only to discover that between Harry Potter World, LegoLand's Father Christmas Sleepover and Disney on Ice, you've spent six times your budget and they still have nothing to open.
7. Crafting crisis (home)
We're all Pinteresting these beautiful cards our kids will decorate with buttons and ribbons and stamp with "made by...." in gold ink. In reality, they are shrieking about hot glue-gunning their fingers to the table, and punching each other for the best buttons.
Then you find yourself, late at night, glittering the Christmas tree collage just so it looks just like it was made by your eight-year-old.
8. Crafting crisis (school)
Then you get called in to help out with the school craft Christmas activities. Last year I was handed icing pens so the children could decorate gingerbread men with buttons and smiles, but it all went a bit porno when some aspiring Banksy realised he could draw willies and boobies instead.
9. Actual work
Meanwhile, your boss needs both the end-of-year numbers and next year's plan, ASAP. Only you lose a few days because everyone has a filthy cold, closely followed by a vomiting bug, and you need to take off a Friday for that fete, a Wednesday for the carols, the Friday after for the nativity.
With no more holiday time left, you find yourself begging to break into next year's holiday allocation early, knowing you'll regret it horribly by the next holidays.
10. Work plus
Some also can't avoid the avalanche of client social events, team drinks and the whole company party. One mum - who works in marketing - told me she has at least one event every night between now and December 20. She is begging colleagues to share it out so she can be home a few nights each week and not enter Christmas owing her babysitter hundreds of pounds and needing to wring cheap white wine out of her organs.
11. Mama Father Christmas
Then there are those Mother-Christmas types wafting around having booked three days in Lapland "to drop in on FC, and you know how Jaime adores huskies", ice-skating on Christmas Eve and front row at the panto on Boxing Day, all followed by New Year with old friends at "this sweet cottage we adore in Cornwall".
The rest of us panic, realising that the panto is sold out, and the last free skating slot of 9am on January 3 lacks a certain romance.
12. Nostalgia anxiety
Meanwhile, we know this is all supposed to be magical. Treasured. Beautiful. The Best Time of Our Whole Lives. And we hate ourselves for not enjoying it more.
Oh, pass me the Quality Street and the cava, I'm going out with the other mums to laugh about it.
The Daily Telegraph