I left my ex and daughter’s father well over five years ago now and since then we have had to share residency over Christmas. I know this is something a lot of parents get upset and frustrated over so I wanted to write about my experience. Having Christmas without your children is really hard. It’s not the same, and I don’t think it will ever get easier. I envision the future where Evie is waking up over 100 miles away from me on Christmas Day when Adam and I have our own children and the picture never looks right. It isn’t how I want Christmas to be but it’s a very real future for our family. I know it won’t be every year and in fact I’ve been quite lucky that for the last few years we’ve followed the same routine and pattern which has granted Evie with me until Boxing Day and then returning home on New Years Day.
When I was around eight my parents divorced which lead to my sister and I being in a similar predicament. My birthday is also in late December so it’s always been a really busy week for us. It wasn’t until my dad had a place of his own (and learned to cook) that we actually started having Christmas day with him and even then with him being quite close we saw him almost every year on Christmas Day for a few hours at least. I live very far from my ex so that kind of agreement just isn’t feasible, nor is it really fair on Adam considering my relationship with my ex was quite volatile. This year we are following the same routine we have done for the last four years, Evie will be with us in the run up until Christmas and then collected from my mums on Boxing Day, she then gets to spend the rest of the school Holidays with her dad and come home on New Years Day, with a few more days together until she goes back to school. Next year she will be staying with her dad from the day she finishes school until Boxing Day and coming home for my 30th Birthday and New Years Eve.
The first time she was away from me on Christmas Eve I absolutely hated it. I was alone, living in a hostel and spend the night at my mums so I was with family. I wasn’t particularly cheerful on Christmas Day because I kept looking over at the tree and seeing all of Evie’s wrapped up Christmas presents. I think I had a little too much Chablis and fell asleep for a bit on the sofa before being told to move up as my grandparents were here. My family did there best to keep me cheerful but it was really hard. I had only just met Adam and not really having a home to decorate or return to, plus all the stress I was going through at the time just made that a really hard Christmas. I know next year it’s going to be hard again because Evie will be away and it’s something I know I’ll have to prepare for a bit better but I’m so grateful of my improved circumstances and I have a whole year yet to plan something really special for Adam and I. It will probably be the first and only Christmas we will ever have just the two of us…I know the celebration of my birthday will keep me busy and keep me excited too. Also – selfishly I suppose, but I’ve had the absolute best Christmas Eve’s of her childhood which I am so grateful for and so determined to make this Christmas Eve extra special as I have strong suspicions it will be the last one that’s truly magical…
Being seperated from your children at any time over the festive period is really tough because as a parent the magic of Christmas returns to you in such a different way. You are almost a child yourself again trying to plan exciting trips and nothing beats seeing the absolute love and joy on your child’s face as meeting Father Christmas or watching them watch the fireworks at the Christmas lights switch on or seeing their little stocking full of gifts on Christmas morning. It is so exciting and magical and amazing once again because it has so much more meaning than it did for the years between teenagedom and parenthood (well, at least, for me, as my years were quite few being a parent at 21) so when they’re not with you it’s really emotional. It feels empty and strange and a little bit pointless. My advice would be to make sure you have lots of things going on to keep you busy, make sure you get yourself something really special that you can enjoy and surround yourself with family and loved ones. Christmas is all about family and it’s really hard when you feel that some of your family are missing from the special day. I can’t say that it does or will get any easier but I hope, no matter you family situation, you have a happy Christmas.