It’s beginning to look a lot like a shared custody Christmas …
I’ve had some depressing Christmas Days. Like in 2006 when I was so incredibly hungover that I woke up only to eat one mouthful of turkey. Or, in 2014, when I drank way too much Prosecco just because I could after failing to get pregnant after a year of ‘trying’. However, this year may be the most depressing yet as I will be spending it without my two-year-old son, TJ.
As part of my newly separated status, all weekends and calendar-marking moments have been divided up between me and TJ’s Dad. This year, he rolled a lucky six and he has got TJ for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I floated the idea of spending Boxing Day together but it was a no-go. I have Christmas Eve with my little monkey instead and I plan to make it very special indeed. But, when 11 am on the big day rolls around, TJ will be whisked away with his Dad for a present party with his paternal relations. As a result, I cannot currently get through a Christmas advert without crying – I don’t even mean the John Lewis one, I ended up sobbing to this year’s effort from Tesco the other day.
I love Christmas. I am the first one to whack on Mariah Carey, I decorate with all of the tinsel, I watch Elf on December 1st and I eat pigs in blankets with as many meals as possible throughout the festive season. But, this year is different – and not just because I don’t yet have my own home to adorn with tacky decorations. I can’t embrace the sentiment, build-up, and excitement of the day when I know it’s just something I am truly dreading.
I know TJ won’t know any different. The birth of Jesus probably isn’t on his radar just yet unless Mickey Mouse has covered it in the Clubhouse. It does also, of course, mean that I get my little man to myself for Christmas Day and Boxing Day next year. But I fear the cons of this (shared custody) situation outweigh the pros. Let’s look at that more closely – feel free to add your plus and minus points at the bottom in the comments.
Shared Custody at Christmas Pros:
- I get Christmas morning with TJ. For a kid, this is a pretty momentous part of the day.
- I get to drink my body weight in wine/Baileys/anything alcoholic for the rest of the day before making my dad drive me back to a bed.
- I will be able to watch all the awful festive TV without any requests for Thomas The Tank Engine.
- I will have my phone to myself to start on the sale shopping nice and early.
Shared Custody at Christmas Cons:
- I won’t have my most important family member with me on a day which is all about our loved ones.
- Being without TJ will be a sharp reminder of how much has changed this year – for the better and for the worse.
- I will cry on Christmas Day. This won’t be a first (I had a sob to myself on the way home last year after a difficult day) but it will most definitely happen. I haven’t got through the co-parenting handover without doing so yet, and I don’t think that’s going to change this side of NYE.
- The house will be quieter, which is saying something in my family. TJ has united my family members in ways I didn’t think were possible and that will be noticeably absent on a day when it should be heightened.
I hope in years to come, a routine will be established and memories will be made in a different but still delightful way throughout the festive season. I hope in years to come, I will get a warm and fuzzy festive feeling when the shops start to play their Christmas music. I hope in years to come, the place I am purchasing will feel like a home and I can snuggle on the sofa with TJ and watch The Snowman.
This won’t be the year for any of that.
I know this separation and everything that comes with it was my decision. I know that I have done the right thing for the other 364 days of the year. I know that there are people who have lost much more than I have and Christmas will be hard for thousands of people for a myriad of reasons. So, I hope everyone can find their star in the sky on Christmas Day. I know mine will be shining bright, even if I can’t see it.
Jude is a 30-something mum-of-one who charts her adventures as a single parent while juggling her kid with a career. There’s no sugar-coating the truth with Jude – she tells it as she sees it, hears it, lives it and experiences it. But, this isn’t a how-to guide to parenting – sometimes, it’s quite the opposite! Jude isn’t ashamed to admit to her own flaws whether that’s in raising her son or navigating the ups and downs of relationships. She hopes to show other parents out there – single or otherwise – that they are not alone with the tantrums, tears and all that goes with it. But, above all, Jude wants to show what a fabulous experience parenting is – for just when we all need that reminder of why we signed up to the mum/dad role in the first place!