This year will mark my second Festive Season as a Single Mom. And I’d kind of rather wade into a teeming cesspool of leaches with cement blocks on my feet than hang out without my three-year-old sidekick on Thanksgiving and Christmas — but it looks like that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.
My relationship with my little boy’s Father crumbled two years ago, a few days after New Year’s Eve, after a final-straw breaking, gut-wrenching argument, when he returned to our house in my Jeep and took down Christmas decorations in silence, in the home we shared.
I stayed for a while with my son at my Mom’s apartment, numb while she surrounded me in crackers and mandarin oranges and steaming cups of honeyed tea. And I piled up walls of crumbly Kleenex on her varnished tabletops, and I held on to the warmth of my one year old baby and I wondered what would become of us. And yes, it really felt that dramatic.
I wish that I could have told that shattered woman that most things would get better from there: solo grocery shopping expeditions get much easier with a pre-schooler than with a baby, for example. And, that there is a certain beauty in not having to pick up socks or bathroom-sink hair and to unapologetically eat olives for dinner. In time, I wish I could have explained, most things will be so much better solo than they were when things were bad, together.
But. The one thing that’s not better is the holidays. Last year I had our son on Christmas Day, and his Father had him for a few days afterward. This year, it’s his turn to have him on Christmas, and I am already dreading it. What is Christmas, without the delighted squeal of a small child? What am I going to do with myself on Christmas Day, when everything is closed, when (it seems) the rest of the Universe is with their family? Perhaps, I think, I could volunteer at a soup kitchen downtown for the day. My Mom has already talked about “delaying” our holidays until Nolan gets home and can enjoy them with us. Or rather, we can enjoy watching him thrill to them - because that’s what really makes them so great.
I could go snowboarding, I guess - maybe I could book a last-minute trip somwehere sunny and beachy, but most likely I’ll ruminate and clean, reflect a little and shed a few cleansing tears before the time will be up and my son will be back home with me.
Single parents, what do you do when your kids are with the exes for the holidays?