Dear Single Parent,
I am aware that as the holidays approach, this may not be the most joyful time for you personally. Whether this is the first year or the fifteenth year that you will be spending the upcoming holidays without your children or simply dividing time, I know it is not easy. I know that even though you will celebrate when they get home, that your thanksgiving and Christmas morning may not have that joyful excitement attached to it that you are used to. There are so many unknown aspects of single parenting that others who have never been in your shoes may not understand, so when they try to cheer you up or invite you along, remember they are not being unsensitive about your situation, they are simply trying to love you.
As you pack the kids bags to send them on their way, they may be very excited to go see the other side of their family. They are not trying to hurt your feelings. They are just kids. This is a new way of life for all of you and they too are trying to navigate in this way of life. You will find that resentment and maybe anger will try to sprout their nasty heads in your life, but don’t let them. Whether you are the one who wanted the divorce, or you are still devastated that your spouse didn’t make good on your vows, you deserve happiness, so choose it. As a child who went back and forth every holiday season, I would cry no matter who I was leaving because I knew they were sad to see me go. It only took about 15 min either way for the sadness to turn to excitement to see the other parent. While you will most likely shed tears as you send them on their way, do your best to not speak ill of the other side or make the transition any more difficult than it already is for your child.
Along with the unfamiliar feeling of being alone on the holidays, you are probably noticing your bank account is no longer what it used to be this time of year. You may think your children will be disappointed because there isn’t as many gifts under the tree as usual, but I assure you that they will forget what they got by next year anyways. They will be way more likely to remember a movie and hot cocoa night or cookie decorating day with you than they will about the presents under the tree. For some odd reason, there is oftentimes this whole competition thing between you and your ex about who can buy the most expensive or popular gifts. LET THEM WIN! It only took me a short time to realize they cared more about the time I spent with them every other day of the year than they ever did about the gift they received on Christmas morning.
If you are like the majority of single parents and you are working this holiday season and now you must find daycare arrangements for them during the school break, do not allow this to cause you guilt. You are doing the best with what you have, and you are setting an example of hard work and provision for them.
Now Lean in and listen to me closely!! I know how exhausted you are both mentally and physically. As if being a single parent wasn’t hard enough, now you must share your kids long before you ever planned to do. You are frustrated, stressed and sad but you WILL get through this. Your kids WILL get through this. This is not ideal, but it isn’t the end of the world either. Make it a point to spend time…. LIKE BE PRESENT with your kids not just through the holidays but always. As a single parent, your kids are at a higher risk for many influences, but I have seen too many successful single parents raise fabulous kids to believe it’s impossible. You are BRAVE, and you are WORTHY. Your kids know you love them not because of these two holidays coming up but because you are their biggest cheerleader 365 days a year. You are the person who can kiss a boo-boo and make it go away. You are the ONLY one capable of taking care of monsters under the bed. Whether you are sending off a 2-year-old or a 15-year-old, you are their hero. Let this season be a good reminder to reflect on the time you do get to be with them and to cherish the moments they are sitting right next to you. Allow this to be a time you grow and take care of YOU! I wouldn’t wish single parenting on my worst enemy and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to the days of sharing my babies, but this too shall pass. I want you to know that there is someone (ME) praying for you every day during this time. I think about you single parents all the time because when I was standing in your shoes, I couldn’t see past the day I was in. I hope you are encouraged and hopeful that your future is brighter than your past and you will look back and realize just how much of a survivor you truly are.
Now pick yourself up off the floor and do something for YOU! Take a hot bath, watch a movie that isn’t animated, eat ice cream in bed…. Go potty by yourself (you know I am right) and enjoy the quiet so you are refueled to have the best time when they return home!
P.S. If you need some special prayer during this upcoming holiday season or ever, you can always message me, and I would love to pray Gods strength over you.
Wrapping you up in my thoughts and prayers,