Single Parenting on Christmas: Not a Creature was Stirring, 2013 Edition

Christmas postcard, 1911

Christmas postcard, 1911 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I watched Big Brother shout with joy as he opened up a coveted gift, shared a couch and movie time with my nearly ex-husband and our two children, received two presents from my kids bought by Zach, my ex, and sobbed on my kitchen floor when Zach left with my oldest son.

Parenting and co-parenting small children during the holidays can be stressful and overwhelming, but I think we did the best we could. I sent a text to my co-parent as soon as the little one woke up, and he played with our son in the family room while I got breakfast ready. I was grateful there was someone else here to keep my young son from tearing into the presents under the tree while Big Brother slumbered on.

When Big Brother woke up we opened presents together, which was a wonderful thing. Their joy with their new toys was contagious. After everything was opened and played with, we watched a movie together before my ex and I worked in the kitchen, side by side, to make a brunch that only we ate. The kids have just been too excited to eat.

Is it crazy that I shared eggs and bacon with my ex on Christmas morning? Maybe. I certainly wondered if it was as I found myself unexpectedly sobbing over my kitchen sink and then falling to the floor from grief.

I still love him. I’m still attracted to him. He’s still so cute and nice and smart. (when he’s not saying mean things or forgetting stuff or obviously inebriated, that is.)

But I can’t be married to him. He is still an untreated addict and alcoholic. We cannot be a family of four; we must have two homes.

But this fact, nearly a year and a half after our separation, still breaks my heart.

Today our children got to open Santa’s gifts with their whole family. They got to play with their new toys and receive more attention. They did not have to choose which house to enjoy Christmas in, or feel divided on an important day. I think this is a good thing.

We were cordial and friendly. We are still a family.

And grief is to be expected.

This year has definitely been better than last year.

Now, I’m alone in my kitchen, dishes clean and children sleeping (or trying to). I’m not lonely or angry or sad. I’m just exhausted. And grateful we could be civil enough to give our children a lovely Christmas.

I wonder what next year will bring?