Every year the holidays as a single mom (I cannot speak to the experience of being a single dad, because 100% of my life is a single mama 🤷🏼♀️) hold different struggles and happiness. Several years ago, Cole’s dad and I adopted a different manner of co-parenting, which is sometimes difficult for people to wrap their heads around (and it honestly makes some people angry, which I totally do not understand. My child’s life is so much more important than “getting even” or being a mad, miserable mama for the rest of his life, but I digress).
I remember crying, reading our divorce decree that said every other holiday, splitting Mother’s and Father’s Day and custody arrangements, basically dividing up our child’s life like he was a possession, an old boat or maybe vacation condo. I have the great responsibility and opportunity to visit with big kids on the daily, who share their pain and sadness with me, pain from their childhoods, and wishing that their divorced parents could just get along. All of that constant fussing and fighting is so hard on kids, big and small, who feel devoted to both parents. And I wanted better for my sweet child. I didn’t want him to be sitting in an office in high school, talking about how he leaves his house at night because of the fighting, to go and drink, and how he is failing his classes because no one at home even cares if he comes to school, they are so wrapped up in the drama of new relationships. PET PEEVE: if you are a single parent, your child endures weekly drama of picking up and moving from home to home, and the pain of not seeing you every day, in some cases. They are already knee deep in a battle of insecurity. Moving a new man or woman into your home every six months is so confusing to your child, who did not choose to have divorced parents. Your dating life needs to be on pause. If you have children, at some point you dated. Push the pause button, sister.
So we do holidays together, and birthdays, and even Sunday mornings and Sunday dinner. At first it was awkward and terrible, but totally not awkward for Cole, who lights up when everyone he loves is in the same room. I talked to a single dad this last week (at the hair salon, where he was waiting on his daughter to get her hair done) who said he almost feels selfish sometimes, since he also coparents like we do. He voiced what I have always felt too, about how he wanted Christmas morning and birthday dinners and every day life too. And you know who needs that the most? Your sweet children do. They need to see that forgiveness and grace, so they can learn how to forgive people when they get big too.
I do feel like a powerful, strong woman when I pay all the bills, cook all the food, do all the things, and do Christmas on top of it. I did not quite feel the pinch of Christmas shopping this year, like I have in the past, because we are making a conscious effort to spend less, and focus on Jesus, and serving others who might not know where to turn all year long, and specifically at Christmas. Cole’s big gifts were adopting his foster dog, and a little box packed with a Fun Day. I guarantee you that he will remember those two gifts far longer than something that I bought out of guilt, that will probably be broken soon (or forgotten). I think most children are the same. They crave your time. They crave peace and contentment. So if you simply could not do the holidays together this year, try it in 2019. Dip your toe in the water with a dinner, then a birthday, or sit by each other at soccer practice (Allen hates sitting by me at games, I get a little mouthy). I realize doing this will involve a whole lot of forgiveness on your part (and maybe on theirs too. I love Jesus, but I do have a mouth). When people can come together and get along, not be best friends, but partner in the business of raising little people (which is gonna involve them working on it too, I am not saying you’re doing it on your own, sweet single mama), see how happy it makes your precious children. Cole glows when he sees that his dad and I can be friends. Healthy relationships are the key to happy, healed children, and I don’t know about you, but I simply want to raise a good man.
Share your healthy co-parenting ideas and experiences with me!! I know it hurts, and I know it’s hard, but your children need you to model forgiveness and kindness. I will pray for you to get through this chapter in your life, if you need me to partner with you. You’ve got this, little mama.