Being a single parent at Christmas is hard. Hell, being single at Christmas generally is hard. But as a parent, seeing all the Christmas advertisements involving families together can sometimes feel like a knife in the gut. I love how excited my kids get about Christmas, but it makes me very sad that I have no-one to share my children’s joy with. My family are great and this year I am lucky enough to be spending Christmas with them. But not everyone has family around and that must be extra-hard.
I will give you a little background if you haven’t read my blog before. I split up from my ex-husband 2 years ago. It happened just before Christmas. It was a shock and a very turbulent time for everyone involved but we got through Christmas (2014). As painful as it was, we made a fuss of the kids, made it all about them, even though we all knew our lives had changed forever. I don’t know if it was worse for me as the breakup was not my choice and the person that my husband had fallen for was someone very close to home – she lived in our house and looked after our children. But we kept up the pretence for the sake of the kids and gave them the last “normal” Christmas before we told them in January that Mummy & Daddy weren’t going to live together anymore.
When we first broke up, all I wanted was to keep everything as normal as possible for the children and for me. This meant spending Christmas together every year (me, my ex-husband and his then girlfriend – now wife). So this is what we did in 2015. I had moved out in the April into my own little flat. But I spent Christmas at my old house, now my ex-husband’s house, with him, his girlfriend and the kids. In some ways it was exactly the same as the previous 2 Christmases but in other ways it was awful. A lot of things had changed in the house. It didn’t feel like my own anymore. I felt like a guest that had to be on her best behaviour (not that they made me feel like that – they were both very kind and welcoming) but I knew deep down, although I didn’t want to admit it then, that this was not going to be manageable, or healthy for that matter, going forward. As time went by, we started doing more and more things separately. I fought for us to do things together – the odd pub lunch, summer fetes, this kind of thing, but in the end I admitted defeat and realised that we needed to do our own thing. That it was healthier this way.
So early on in the year I asked my parents if they were around at Christmas. Partly, I was terrified of being on my own with the kids on Christmas Day. I didn’t have room for a big Christmas at mine, I’m not a very confident cook and I was worried I wouldn’t manage. But I also wanted to have a family Christmas with MY family. The idea of Christmas at my ex’s house again made me feel very depressed. Thankfully, my parents said yes, they would be around. So I’m going to my folks this Christmas – it will be me, the kids, my parents, my sister and her husband. It’s been a long time since we’ve all done Christmas together and I can’t wait. We’ve already talked about stockings and my mum, dad and sister have gone out and bought a few things so it will really be a joint effort. I can’t wait to be in my parents’ living room, watching the kids open their presents. I actually feel good about Christmas and about being with my family.
Next year will be harder. It will be Ben’s turn to have the children for Christmas Day and I will have them on Boxing Day. I know this will be hard for me but my plan is to either spend Christmas Day with a friend or invite a load of single people (either those without kids or those parents whose kids are with their ex’s that year) and have a big friend Christmas.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. If you are a single parent (or just single), please comment below with your own experiences of Christmas. I would love to read them.