It is well documented that divorced families have many more challenges during the Holiday Season. Certainly the typical stressors are present but add to them a blended family or absent parents and the pressure to create the perfect Holiday escalates. My ex moved across the country when my children were three and five, we are used to decorating and celebrating Christmas without him. It's been over five years now and we have crafted our celebrations with family and friends, and we all have a wonderful time.
It's different, it is simply not the picture that I had in mind. There's a sadness that I do not allow to overwhelm me however it does drift in and out during this period.
The dream of the happily ever after didn't work out for me.
If anyone ever told me in my twenties that I would live on four acres raising two children alone I would have laughed and proclaimed that Im not signing on to that - absolutely not. Im such a family-oriented person- "I would never get divorced."
Famous last words I suppose. Never say never as life presents us with situations that we do not anticipate or foresee. Perhaps if we knew the future and all of it's challenges, we would be better prepared. We certainly would eliminate the word never from our vocabulary. We would not be so judgmental of others.
Yesterday, my daughter and I went shopping for her Father. She really wanted to get him an ornament this year. Thankfully her heart is open and so incredibly sweet so off we went. The ornament she chose was adorable and when I asked her what she wanted to write on it- she said let's write "Daddy, Sarah, Giavanna, Christopher, Kitty and Flea- Do you want to be on it too Mommy?" Sarah is my ex's current wife and Kitty and Flea are their cats. They live across the country and my kids see her once a year.
If my life were a sitcom this would be the moment that I would grit my teeth, produce a fake smile and look right into the camera. Instead, I warmly smiled at my daughter and said no thank you but thank you for thinking of me.
It's moments like this that I feel very proud of many things. First and foremost that I have produced kind and sensitive children that are mindful of other people's feelings. The other person that I am proud of is myself. My non-reactive, do what's in the best interest of my children's mental health mentality that truly encourages my children to thrive as well as have healthy relationships.
I think it is extraordinarily important for divorced parents to encourage their children to have positive and successful relationships with both parents. For the sake of your children's well-being and mental health, bite your tongue, stop your eyes from rolling and be mature. You are doing them a disservice if you do not respect your former spouse. You don't have to adore them but rise to the occasion and be mindful of the enormous impact either positive or negative that will result from your behavior.
We went home after our ornament shopping and Giavanna and I wrapped up the ornament. It is symbolic of another family, one that I am not part of. It's under our tree in anticipation of a visit from their father and Im quite sure that he will love her thoughtfulness. I can't help but think that he will also appreciate my positive encouragement of how my daughter wants to express her love. I continually strive for peace in every aspect of my life and it makes all the difference. I see that in the happy faces of my children. xo