Many times during my marriage, I contemplated divorce. Each time, I thought of the holidays I would spend away from my child, moments I would miss, and the constant struggle of a back-and-forth life for him. Thinking of the holidays always halted my thoughts. How do you wake up alone on Christmas morning without a little one rushing around with excitement? No cookies for Santa. No Christmas pj’s unwrapped the night before. No constant giggles, shredded paper, and shrieks of excitement.
Two years ago, my ex-husband and I separated. Since it was holiday time, we both celebrated at home with him. Our separation was new that year, so it was the best solution. Once we began divorce filings six months later in June 2014, I started prepping myself for a lonely Christmas. In the divorce separation agreement, it states that our son will be with Dad on Christmases that fall in even years.
I dreaded it. I cried when I read the document. I wanted to be with that little 4-year-old baby, who already spent 90 percent of his time within my home, as he experienced the joy of Christmas. I was selfish and bitter. But then I got a call in September that my ex would be deploying to the Middle East. I would get my Christmas with my son, this year at least.
I feel that I have been prepping myself for a quiet Christmas over the last 11 months. This year, I know I will spend Christmas alone since my son’s father is no longer active military and has a steady home. Can you imagine waking up alone on Christmas without your heart and soul there to greet you? I wish I could tell you the amount of times I have cried, but I’ve lost track at this point. My son recently witnessed one weak moment when I thought he was not around.
“Momma, why are you so sad?”
“Well, baby, I am just sad that I won’t get to see you on Christmas morning. That’s all.”
“You can just come to Daddy and Miss. H’s house and see all my Santa presents. Wouldn’t that be fun?”
I wish I could tell him the truth: That this is not how divorce works, and he will rarely have holidays with both Mom and Dad. That although he asks for it, we’ll never be under the same roof again.
We have moved on in the last two years. We have new intricate lives. I have built a new life with a new love over the last year. I’ve worked to better myself and my career. I have found strength in single parenting that I did not know I had, but there is no amount of strength I can muster to prepare myself for waking up alone on Christmas.
I’m still broken because my family is broken. I am not sure any parent truly recovers from knowing their family is broken.
So this past Sunday, I asked my mom if she would mind if I stayed with them on Christmas Eve. My new love lives across the country, and it isn’t feasible for us to be together. I cannot bear to wake up in a deserted house full of twinkling lights, presents not being touched, and that damn Cocoa the Elf staring at me wondering where the blond-headed 5-year-old is.
No one should be alone on Christmas morning. I’ve had two years to prepare for this moment. I thought I would be prepared by now, but I’m still not ready.