Will it ever get easier?
I struggle with holidays. I never used to. But after I got divorced, it became a Struggle, with a capital S. I wish that I could be with my kids for all their vacations and holidays. But the reality is that every vacation and holiday it is a hassle to coordinate and negotiate with their dad in order to agree to terms. We need to agree on when the kids are leaving, returning, what the destination is, do we need to pack something special, make sure they bring their iPad and charger, and can you please have their hair cut before we leave. And what about his favorite stuffed rabbit and her cowboy boots? That’s when I ask myself, will it ever get easier?
But then I whap myself upside the head. Seriously, Christina, you don’t have it that bad. It could be worse.
Yes, you are right. It could be worse.
This Thanksgiving, the kids go are going with their dad on vacation to Arizona. And I’ll be alone. I don’t know where to go. Do I stay home with my cat? Do I go visit my mom and dad, 6 hours away? Do I try to make arrangements with other single friends or family? Or should I escape to Vegas for the weekend?
My mom tells me to drive out to the Black Hills, and be with them for the holiday. Which I could easily do. But it makes me sad to be around my parents, sisters, brothers, and nieces when I don’t have my kids. The sound of other kids around makes tears well up in my eyes. I can’t control it. Their laughter is adorable, but I hate the question that lingers in the air, “So, Christina, where are your kids?”
If I blink, the tears will fall. So, I excuse myself to the bathroom where I see my ridiculous reflection in the mirror. I’m mad at myself for getting myself into this situation. For breaking up my family. For thinking it was a good idea to be around family when I knew I would end up in tears. For not having my life the way I want it for myself and my kids, as a traditional family. But then I think, you made your bed, now lay in it.
The truth is, I don’t have it that bad.
Some people have it way worse. At least my kids have two adoring parents that want to spend time with them. At least my kids are someplace cool right now, on vacation, enriching their childhood. At least I have a family that loves me and wants me to be with them, and still invites me to family events even though I end up crying in the bathroom. See, not so bad, right?
All of us divorcées have a story like this. My best friend has one daughter but never married the father. Part of their custody arrangement is that their daughter goes to her dad’s every Thanksgiving. So, every Thanksgiving my friend doesn’t have her daughter. She is alone every Thanksgiving. And to make it worse, her family doesn’t get together for Thanksgiving. They celebrate Festivus instead. A convenient made-up holiday that works around your schedule and makes your in-laws happy by satisfying busy schedules. Which means that not only is she not with her daughter for Thanksgiving, but she also doesn’t have a family to get together with. She is doubly alone on Thanksgiving.
But it could be worse. At least she always gets to be with her daughter for Christmas, right?
The truth is, being divorced with kids is hard. I put a strong face on in public, and act like I have it all together, but the Thanksgiving Struggle really is real. I used to be overcome by the Thanksgiving Struggle. I was bitter and no fun to be around. Mad at the world for how tough I had it. And mad at you too because you just wouldn’t understand what I’m going through.
But I have learned not to wallow in my misery. Being bitter and negative was not good for my kids, for me, nor anyone I came in contact with. So, I pick up the pieces and carry on.
I deal with the holidays as they come. One Thanksgiving, one Christmas, one Easter at a time. I will make the best of it.