Here comes the holidays, the triple whammy of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Ever since my divorce, I want to hit the fast forward button November through December because it is so darn tough emotionally! In years past, I am typically not filled with joy, but instead an enormous sense of heartache and sadness anticipating the hardest batch of holidays to have to split time with my son. As he gets older, and the years pass by even faster, I find myself cursing my 50/50 parenting schedule – feeling robbed of all the days, hours, and minutes I am missing.
My perception of Christmas really depends on one thing. Is it my Christmas Eve? Will I get to tuck my little guy into bed and wake-up to him bouncing with excitement or not? Silly right? How can my mood about a better part of the season come down to just 24 hours? Because, it is the most magical part that I hate to miss, but I do every other year.
Last year we left out our traditional carrots and cookies for Santa, read a Christmas story and snuggled into bed, all while dreams of sugar plums danced in his head. I watched him peacefully asleep for an incredibly long time, feeling like if I could stare long enough, bottle up the moment, and ingrain it in my mind; I would have it for the following year. I also realized the next time we celebrate Christmas Eve he would be 9, and by then he may not “believe.” Again, I cursed my schedule and fought back the tears.
So here I am heading into the holidays, and it’s not my Christmas Eve. The thought looms over my head, but there is a significant difference this time. I have finally come full circle. The stings in my heart and tears have lessened. There is monumental shift in my mindset, a milestone of sorts. Little glimpses of my healing started last year. I finally was comfortable sending out a family holiday card. A picture of just me and my son happy, smiling, and rocking out our patriots swag! And I’m comfortable with that!
Buying a house in April also sealed the deal on coming full circle. I am embracing the holidays in my new space, much more than I ever did in years past, and going to host my first Thanksgiving because my son will be with me this year! (And for god’s sake my sister needs a break!)
More importantly, I have also come to look at myself differently. I used to feel like I was in a much different place than the families that were still intact. Almost like an outsider, which is so silly! But the reality is we all are on the same playing field, dealing with a lot of the same struggles. It is incredibly tough to deal with splitting time with my son, but I also know there are plenty of other parents who feel the same way, who are not even divorced or managing a 50/50 schedule. As parents, we are quite simply busy as hell, working full-time, squeezing in a few hours a weeknight and jam-packed weekends to make up for the gap in quality time. Holidays are a whirlwind, and aren’t we all anticipating the day our kids stop believing? Each year we are trying to put those precious childhood holiday moments in a time capsule before we blink and are sending our kids to college.
They say it takes just as many years as you were married to get used to the new schedule, life and comfortable again after divorce. I would say I am finally there, and look forward to next year, when I get my Christmas Eve!
Are you splitting time or holidays with an ex? Tell me about it!
Erin has worked in the healthcare insurance industry for over 12 years in various different roles including product management, marketing, and communications. Currently she is a Business Communications Manager at Cigna.
She is passionate about road cycling, running, soccer, sports, and rarely stays idle. Erin loves music, and lives for a good concert. Often times you will find Erin blasting a soundtrack for the day, finding a lyrical correlation to an experience or dancing it out in the kitchen with her son.
"Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future, and faith is the courage to dance it today." -Random wall hanging in her kitchen that holds true to Erin's philosophy about running her life.