This was my first christmas as a single mum, and I spent it without my son. I dropped Cygnet at his daddy’s house at 5pm on Christmas Eve and collected him at 10am on Boxing Day. The ex and I had arranged this at a meeting in November. It worked for my ex because his family were staying with him on Christmas Day, and it worked for my family because my sister and her soon to be fiancé (I hope!) would not be around until Boxing Day afternoon.
I wanted my family to see Cygnet at Christmas time.
My ex obviously wanted the same.
This was the most logical arrangement.
I have been reading single parent blogs and it seems that there is no real ‘norm’ for Christmas custody arrangements:
- Some children are asked which parent they would like to spend their Christmas with.
This, to me, feels like unnecessary torture for both parents, particularly the unchosen one. I can’t help but wonder whether this rewards the parent who is slacker on discipline, allows football in the living room, cheesy wotsits for lunch, is content for the dog to eat all homework and for bedtime to be unregulated. Fortunately, my 16-month old Cygnet, is not really at the choosing age.
- Some children always spend Christmas with the parent who they spend the most time with.
My heart says ‘yes’ to this solution, but my head tells me that it is not really fair either on my ex or my son.
- Some children’s parents come together for Christmas Day so that they can spend Christmas Day as a ‘family’.
We have been separated for less than a year and we may feel differently in a decade’s time, in fact I hope we do, but this also feels like unnecessary torture for both parents.
Do I want to spend Christmas with the controlling narcissist (comments like this are a prime example of why I blog anonymously!) who I am proud to leave? Er, no thank you.
Does my ex want to spend Christmas with the woman who broke off their engagement? I very much doubt it.
- Some children spend half of the day with each parent
We considered this. In fact it was our initial plan, but it became clear that my ex wasn’t going to allow me to have the latter half of Christmas Day because his family were not arriving at his until the afternoon, and my ex in-laws are not in the business of changing their plans to accommodate those they love let alone those they hate (i.e. me).
I knew that I would have the collection deadline hanging over me during the first half of Christmas Day and then I would be pining for Cygnet once I had handed him over. Then I would probably just drink and cry and drink and cry and drink and cry some more … and I didn’t want this.
- Some children have two Christmas Days every year
This will probably be Cygnet’s norm. This year, my family were absolute superheroes (yet again!) and we didn’t open any presents or eat the Turkey until the 26th of December. On the 25th of December my parents, my brother and my grandmother ate fish, had some adult conversation and watched Skyfall. Our Christmas Day was on the 26th of December. It actually felt like Christmas Day was a day later and I don’t feel that I spent Christmas Day without Cygnet.
I cannot thank my family enough.
That doesn’t mean to say it was easy…
…dropping Cygnet at his dad’s on Christmas Eve was a special kind of hard.
My ex’s mother was there. I wished her a merry christmas but she didn’t reply. She couldn’t smile at me. She told my mum (who I had taken for moral support) how stressed she had been and how I should never have left my ex.
I didn’t really get to say a proper goodbye to Cygnet. Obviously, Cygnet is excited to see his daddy when I drop him off. He is even more excited to see the pussy cat, Edgar, who he has taken to rugby-tackling. I would have liked a bit of time to say goodbye to Cygnet properly, to wish him a happy christmas and to explain to him that I will see him soon. At sixteen months Cygnet doesn’t have a clue what is going on so this ‘goodbye’ would have been for me, but my ex didn’t leave the room so that I could have a couple of minutes to smother Cygnet in kisses and cuddles before I left.
With my ex in the room, Cygnet was more excited about cheesy wotsits, throwing balls around the living room and rugby-tackling the cat.
…collecting Cygnet on the 26th of December was no walk in the park either.
By this time my ex’s twin sister and her family had arrived. My ex and his twin sister have a tempestuous relationship and always have done. My ex says that his sister has anger management issues. He is very right. She is also very selfish.
When I collected Cygnet, she gave me what can best be described as a snarl. She also took Cygnet from my ex’s arms, daddy’s arms, and into another room so that she, Auntie, could say goodbye. I actually felt a bit sorry for my ex because he didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to Cygnet on the 26th either, but that was his sister’s fault and not mine.
All in all though, Christmas was good. It actually felt longer because we were able to prolong the celebrations by having a quiet and civilised day on the 25th and our Christmas Day on 26th. My sister and her boyfriend also stayed around for 27th and Cygnet had so many presents that we carried on the unwrapping on 27th. The 27th was also a lovely day.
My christmases as a single mum are never going to be easy. No solution is ideal, but I am hoping that alternating 25th December and two Christmas Days a year for Cygnet will be the solution for us.
I am sincerely thankful and grateful that I had, and have, the family support to help me through it.
Oh, and to my ex sister in law. Roald Dahl has some wise words for you:
Loads of love. xx