While the title of this blog is “Life as a Divorced Dad,” a good majority of the posts I write can easily be read by parents from just about any situation with a sense of, “yup … been there.” However this particular post will most likely resonate more with divorced parents than any other.
Like most parents, we invest months of preparation, planning, spending, anticipation, anxiety, stress, sleepless nights pushing ourselves to emotional extremes culminating in few days of hurried chaos as we attempt to accomplish splendid memorable moments of holiday cheer of epic proportions for our children. (deep breath)
We then groggily wake up on the 26th with a sense of, “Whoa what just happened?” For most, the sudden contrast of calm can be a little unsettling. The pace of our lives has been ludicrous speed and it’s now come to a screeching halt. For the typical family unit there is still a sense of wholeness that accompanies these feelings as the kids play with their new toys, a pot of coffee is brewing in the kitchen and parents attempt to begin the process of cleaning up.
But for the divorced parent, there is often a much larger sense of contrast. For a divorced parent the experience can be remarkably cold and empty, especially if they spend Christmas morning with their kids and then hand them off to the other parent the day after. We wake to a Christmas ghost town of deadly quiet as we look around the house at shreds of ribbon strewn about along with a few empty boxes and left over Santa cookies. It can very much feel like slamming into a brick wall.
Throughout the year the transition from having kids to not having kids is most likely the most difficult adjustment for everyone involved, but the holidays take it to a whole nother level. It is an experience of extremes and the emptiness of handing your children off during the holidays can be unfathomably cold for no other reason than it’s an extreme shock to the system both physically and emotionally.
As hard as it may be at first, take advantage of the quiet. Rest. Reflect. And look forward to the next time you’ll get to see your children. Send them a text and let them know you’re thinking about them. Send a picture of you enjoying a gift they got you. Let them know that even when you’re apart, they’re still with you. Some children will feel guilt for leaving a parent alone. Letting them know you’re OK will allow them to enjoy their time with the other parent, so long as you stay positive.
Remember that everything you did during the holiday rush was to ensure your children had a joyous holiday. That’s still the focus. Part of that includes time with their other parent. Know that everything you’re doing, including sitting alone on the stoop, sipping on a cup of java, you’re doing to give your children memories and relationships they’ll cherish as they get older.
You did good. And you deserve a moment of peaceful reflection. Enjoy it while you can because in a few days, you’ll start the chaos of a new year all over again.