I find this time of year to slow my roll a bit and quietly reflect not just on the past year, but on my past life as a single mom. Because I am a single mom and have been for a long while, I have always tried my best to be prepared for the holiday gift-giving expectations.
My shopping always starts well into July. I have one budget to cover it all so by spreading it out a bit I gain more traction on my own expectations of myself. That and the fact that there is only one me and only one measure of bandwidth.
I have had to adjust these expectations on myself as I navigated raising my two children alone. My single parenting began when they were both under 4 years old. They are now over 20 years old. That’s a lot of Christmases to cover. And I never did or ever would disappoint them in having as close to a magical Christmas as I had growing up.
When I was their age, I always thought that Christmas was about getting presents. That’s all. When I was married I thought the gifts from my husband had to be spot on as proof that he was actually listening to me and that I was special.
Over the years I have received novelty items from my siblings in the days before Christmas, but I have not had a Christmas morning gift from a special someone in over 20 years.
As a single mom family, I am Christmas.
In our early Christmases, I bought the gifts, wrapped the gifts, bought and decorated the tree and the house. I helped the kids bake the cookies for Santa. I put the gifts out under the tree in the middle of the night and placed Santa’s dirty boot prints by the fireplace to prove he was there.
I ate the bites out of the cookies for further evidence of his being there. When that was all done, I fell into bed. I would get up at the crack of dawn because the kids would beeline it to the living room to rip open the gifts and then I made the Christmas breakfast all before 11:00 am because their Dad was coming to pick them up.
As the door closed behind them and they walked out to their dad’s car, I was left in complete silence and reflection.
There is nothing single about a single mother. Especially at Christmas.
She has to have four arms, four legs, two hearts, and double the love.
Though the kids have grown, and our Christmases have changed a lot, I still feel the need to be Christmas. I don’t really know why that is. They have grown up and only really know us as a divorced family.
For example, when my son came home from college after picking him up from the airport, I made sure that we pulled up to a house that was fully lit with Merry Christmas lights. I wanted him to smile and have that Christmas spirit. Of course, that spirit cost me over $300 to make that happen because, after years of me doing this job, I finally hired someone else to hang off my two-story house.
I am certain this is all because I still feel guilty in some weird way… that we are still a single mom family.
And now… well, we still experience the flurry of the Christmas morning gifts but it’s at a somewhat slower pace. There is no real mad rush any longer to open the gifts. The gifts mind you that I wrapped and still put out the night before.
We don’t cram breakfast down at a mad dash anymore either. It’s a methodical practice now. One that allows us to sip a slow cup of coffee altogether as we chat and usually reflect on Christmases of the past which are usually full of funny stories.
I still try to create a little Christmas magic no matter what age they are at. They still go to their dad’s house on Christmas day, but they drive themselves there. I still feel the quiet silence after the door closes behind them as they walk to the car and drive off.
I still stop and reflect on the past years we have been a single family. The silence is still hard, but my mission will have been accomplished. I was Christmas again. And I will continue to be so for future years, no matter how old they are.
Yes, I still get tired from all of the Christmas expectations. But my fatigue has certainly gotten better as the kids have grown up to the adults they are now. But what I hope is that I will never ever want to just settle for an ordinary Christmas.
I now treasure the gift of quiet reflection that usually escapes me over the course of an ordinary week in my life. It’s now my Christmas morning present to myself that tells me that I was heard and that I am indeed special. Who else but I can give that to me!
Happy Holidays Warrior Divorced Moms! May you all find a delicious quiet moment to reflect on your awesomeness!