Holidays. I LOVE the holidays. I ENJOY spending time with family. I look FORWARD to finding that perfect gift. I am EXCITED to participate in all the fun holiday festivities. In fact this year my daughter’s 4th birthday kicks off the holiday season, the day before Thanksgiving! But the holiday season also brings additional challenges to single parents like me.
The Plan Every Detail
What I don’t look forward to? The planning. Now don’t get me wrong. I am a planner. I like to lay out the dates, figure out the logistics, maximize efficiency. All good. BUT. When you have a bunch of super complicated schedules in the mix things take a turn. When you were raised on TRADITION of this is what we do every year, who we do it with, how we do it, and we are together every moment…things get tricky. When no one else in your family or around you is dealing with a modified schedule – opinions run rampant. Maybe I don’t hate the planning so much as the emotional management of everyone’s expectations, including my own.
Yes, I understand our visitation schedule is very complicated. Yes, I understand you “could never” not have your child Christmas morning. Or face the first night at home alone without them for the holidays. No – I don’t regret being separated because “think of Christmas.” Honestly…I hope you never have to deal with this stuff. This isn’t what I chose. And the truth is – I know you get that – but this is the reality. When parents don’t have their kids for part of the holiday season you better believe we have EVERY minute accounted for. Ask my significant other – I sent a very detailed email with EVERY visitation, exchange and potential change from this very moment through January. He himself has a busy, complicated exchange schedule with his child. He gets it. He gives me grace. He understands protecting and maximizing that time.
We Do the Best We Can
My point? We do the best we can. To set up the best situation and set up expectation. We do often ask to move things to be able to join in on this event or that. It just doesn’t always happen because their other parent also has their plans. It doesn’t matter who’s “fault” things were to begin with – all we have now is the logistics. If I keep tagging emotions to the logistics we’d never move forward. I wish too I could easily flip a day, or a time of day, etc. to always accommodate everything. It just doesn’t work that way, and kids are kids. They also get sick, things happen, travel gets delayed. I am always happy to hear a productive thought or insight, but I have to be honest, the bit of frustration or “why can’t it just be this way” you feel is felt 100 fold all the time and I get it!
We Enjoy Events…Even When Our Child Can’t Be There
What I want you to know- we also dig deep to enjoy events that we know our child would have loved to be part of. We still show up. We smile and keep it light when we have to say “Oh, she’s with her daddy this weekend.” Or, “ I get her the afternoon on her birthday.” It sucks. It hurts. But it brings perspective. Maybe in all this we find new traditions. We don’t know what day or what time until it magically works out we are all together…but we make it to River Oaks to see the lights with our hot cocoa in hands. A new tradition. We maybe no longer make it back to the homes of our childhood on Christmas day to open presents – but we come the next day or the day after. Or whatever day we can make work, our “second Christmas” tradition. Maybe we do hold tighter to every little bit of joy those moments bring… something to hold us through those times when we are alone. When it’s not “our turn.”
So maybe our new traditions aren’t so bad. They aren’t what we had or what you are used to maybe. Just for this holiday season as a gift… give us the grace, love and flexibility to help us find those new traditions and know…we are doing our best.