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 after failing to get pregnant after a year of ‘trying’. However, this year may be the most depressing yet. I will be spending it with shared custody of my two-year-old son, TJ.
As part of my newly separated status, all weekends and calendar-marking moments have been divided between me and TJ’s dad. Our plan was for shared custody to be the order of the day. This year, TJ’s dad rolled a lucky six. 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. So, I plan to make it very special indeed. But, when 11am on the big day rolls around, that shared custody plan will be put into painful action. TJ will be whisked away by his dad. 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.
All I want for Christmas
I love Christmas. I whack on Mariah Carey, decorate with all of the tinsel, watch Elf on December 1st and eat a shit ton of pigs in blankets. But, this year is different. I can’t embrace the sentiment, build-up, and excitement of the day when it’s something I’m dreading.
I know that TJ won’t know any different. The birth of Jesus probably isn’t on his radar unless Mickey Mouse has covered it in the Clubhouse. It does also, of course, mean that I get my little man for Christmas Day and Boxing Day next year. But, I fear the cons of this situation outweigh the pros.
Let’s look at that more closely. Feel free to add your comments on shared custody at Christmas 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.
- The plan is to drink my body weight in anything alcoholic for the rest of the day before making my dad drive me back to a bed.
- It will be a bit ace to 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.
- I will cry on Christmas Day. This won’t be a first as 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 coparenting handover without doing so yet. That’s not going to change before 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. That will be noticeably absent on a day when it should be heightened.
I hope that, in years to come, a routine will be established. Memories can still be made in a different but ultimately delightful way throughout the festive season, I realise that. In those years to come, I hope that I will get a warm and fuzzy festive feeling when the shops start to play their Christmas music. I have faith that the place I am purchasing will feel like a home and I can snuggle on the sofa with TJ and watch The Snowman.
But, this won’t be the year for any of that.
I know this separation and everything that comes with it was my decision. It was undoubtedly the right thing for the other 364 days of the year. In addition, 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.
UPDATE: Nothing is ever truly as bad as it may seem. Here’s how my first coparenting Christmas went – read all about it.