I sat home on Thanksgiving Day, in a quiet house with no plans. My lunch dishes lay discarded on the floor, licked clean by the dogs, while candy wrappers littered the floor. Yes, candy — with no pumpkin pie in the house, I had to find an alternative.
I did not go to visit family, did not take up friends on invitations and really did not feel blue about being alone. I would not have had it any other way. On the years that I don’t have my children for a major holiday, I honestly don’t want to be a guest at your holiday table. It’s not because I don’t adore you or value you, but it is a lot easier to be alone at home during the holidays than to be somewhere else without my kids.
Divorce can be very liberating, as mine was. I have never once wished for his return — never once doubted that what I did for my girls and my family was the right thing. I knew about sharing weekends, but I also knew that 85 percent of the month the kids would be home with me. As any divorced person knows, if the other parent is involved in the lives of the children, then that parent gets some holidays, too.
The time away from me on the holidays, 10 days or so, is harder to swallow than the four weeks over the summer. The holidays are about family, and no one in my family is more important to me than my children.
As single moms, we have to let it go. We have to hand off our kids, hoping for photos in their holiday clothing, smiling and happy, and allow them to be with their dad, who loves them too.
I have my kids this Christmas, so I don’t have to worry about what time he is dropping them off to open their presents or how long I have them before he comes and gets them again. Then I have another seven days without them over New Year’s.
You would think I would be elated and making plans to party it up with friends, stay out too late and feel the pain of 2016 the next morning. But I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t have invitations. I just don’t want to.
Single moms who have to survive the holidays are often stuck between an emotional rock and a hard place. We want a break sometimes from our kids, but for only a few days. Seriously, at about 48 hours away from them, I feel a deep aching for them. By the end of a week, I feel physically depressed. The other part is while they are gone, the mom worry-meter is on its highest alert. I am not there to make sure they are safe and happy. I have to hand them off to someone I do not trust — someone who was never careful or concerned about me and my well-being — and hope he will be with theirs.
It is a huge leap of faith, and it is the worse part of single motherhood, in my opinion. I feel like I have to be even more alert when they are not home. I have to be available, sober and ready to go to them if they need me at a moment’s notice.
Maybe I am an anomaly. Maybe most single moms accept invitations and celebrate whether their kids are with them or not. Maybe I have not figured out how to function 100 percent without my kids. Maybe I need more time. I just can’t do it. I would rather be at home alone than bring down your event.
So, no, I probably won’t accept your very kind invitation. It’s not that I don’t love you and want to be around you. It’s not that I am trying to be rude and ungrateful. It is not that I am trying to hurt your feelings.
It is that when I have to face a celebration without my kids, it does not really feel like a celebration at all.