December 2002 was my first Christmas as a single mom. We had the quaintest two bedroom apartment with hardwood floors. I loved it. It was all ours. Just me and my girl. Safe and far away from angry outburst and late nights brimmed with bitter fights.
In preparation for our first Christmas together, that little girl and I bundled up and set out to hunt for the perfect tree. Although it was just her and I, it was a tradition I always did with my dad and I wasn’t going to have it any other way.
I had no qualms about piling that 5-foot tree on top of my gold Dodge Neon (yes I said, “gold” and “Dodge” and “Neon” that is a tragedy in and of itself) and haul it up that freakin’ tall ass flight of stairs to our little two bedroom apartment. Only to arrive at the top of the stairs to be met by a 2-year-old bouncing bundle of jingle bells in my direct path. “Sit down. Yes, be happy but sit – down. This tree could hurt you”, I barked out loud while carrying the weight of a tree bigger than myself on my back.
What on earth had I got myself into? How was I going to get this tree in that stand without killing us? Just another moment I had underestimated the work that was involved.
And so, yes, single parenting through the holidays, for the most part, was a struggle.
Some were easier than others through the years depending on what was going on in my life. For the most part it only reminded me of what had been lost – a family.
How, as a single mom, do you get through these holiday seasons that were at one time supposed to be filled with making memories and growing old traditions?
The answer will be different for each of you…
Because different seasons hold their own time and purpose for each one of us to act and just be.
To keep it real and personal, I have chosen to share with you what I have done in the past years of single parenting so that you may relate and possibly feel better about yourself ;).
Some of what I am sharing worked and some I flat out won’t do again because they were choices fueled by anger or hurt or just mere pain. Of course, I am married now, so perhaps it eliminates some of these options, but it doesn’t mean my girl doesn’t go off with her dad anymore.
And sometimes that is still very hard for me to handle.
So here are a few of my failures and successes I’ve had in the past years of raising my girl and sharing her with her dad during the holidays:
Do Focus on the Good Even When it Looks Bad: In the beginning of my single parenting years I had left such an abusive marriage that I knew I was doing the right thing. Heck, I was doing the ONLY thing. There was no way I could continue to raise this precious little girl in the direction it was heading in just the first year of marriage. But in all the pain, the messiness of transition and growing out of old mindsets we lose focus of the why.
So I tell you to remain focused on the right things, whatever that may be for you. Keep it simple. Maybe you don’t feel like you have a lot of positive things to keep focused on. But I promise you, you do. Call a good friend or family member and have them speak good things into your heart. Have them remind you in this season what good you have to focus on. The fact that you are here and reading this says a lot!
Don’t Stay in the World of Denial, Drinking, and Depression: So this pretty much saved me and was the death of me at the same time. I say this because the misery I was in needed to be drowned in something and because I wasn’t willing to use any of the more appropriate coping techniques I was taught…denial and drinking got me through the depression.
I know. What a winner. If you hadn’t noticed this is one of the #failures I was speaking of earlier. I don’t recommend it. Some people go here and never return. I thank God I did! #anotherblogpost #foranothertime 😉
Do Think “This too Shall Pass”: We all know, on some level that we will grow out of the current season we are going through. The kids grow up. They live through it all and, hopefully, everyone lives happily ever after. But it doesn’t feel that way in the heat of it all.
Right smack dab in the middle of raising them on our own is where it gets the messiest and the light at the end of the tunnel is so very hard to see. Please be reassured those precious bunches of love muffins grow up and things somehow get easier.
Don’t Take Your Emotions Hostage: Reveling in the, “why did I do this to my child?”, “I will never know love again…”, “I ruined her childhood,” “my life sucks” and on and on and on…was not good self-love during the Holidays or any period for that matter.
Self-loathing is a tough one to fight. Trust me I know. But give yourself some mercy in the process of growing up and out of a divorce and into this new place or old. Either way, don’t beat yourself up. You’re too precious and life is too short.
Do Throw Yourself Into the Love of those Around You: This was hands down one of the best things that saved me during the holiday seasons. Thank God I had cultivated good relationships with my family and friends over the years because it is my tribe that held me together in some of my hardest times.
Would I do anything different?
If I had the chance to change any of what I have shared, it would be loving myself more in between it all. From the day I decided to walk out of that marriage and provide a better life for myself and my girl, I would have made the choice to love myself more. Why?
I would have been a better mom. And my girl deserved every bit of a better me.
How about you? What has been working for you during the holiday season and single parenting? Would you care to share with me a funny story or a frustrating Christmas that you either laugh at now or hope to in the future?
I would love to hear….