Divorce sucks. Plain and simple. But it doesn’t suck that bad. I mean, life goes on and there are things that get easier and things that get harder, but overall life is just as manageable, just as busy, and just as dramatic as it was before. When the dust settles, anyway.
But that doesn’t mean some things don’t just suck forever. Like only getting your kid every other holiday. And this year is my year to not have Noah for Christmas, and that’s hard.
One of the best things as a kid is Christmas morning. Waking up, hollering at your parents to get out of bed, checking to see if Santa ate the cookies, running in and seeing the serious spread that’s been left out for you, tearing open presents, stuffing yourself on chocolate, and then ripping into all of your new toys.
And, one of the best things as a parent is Christmas morning. Trying to sleep in as long as possible before the kids force you out of bed, eating the cookies so that the kids go nuts when they see only crumbs on the plate, making the spread of presents as eye-popping and exciting as possible, watching your kid’s reactions as he tears open his presents, stuffing yourself on chocolate, and then helping your child rip into all of his new toys.
But this Christmas Eve, I’ll simply be putting some presents out under the tree, staying up by myself to watch old reruns of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and then lying in bed awake, wondering if Noah is also awake in his bed over at mom’s house, anticipating Santa Claus and flying reindeer, and his new smorgasbord of awesomeness that will be his in the morning.
And I will probably lie there wondering if he is too excited to remember that Dad loves him and Dad wishes he could be there to be a part of his Christmas morning. And then at some point I’ll drift off to sleep, only to awake when Buddha huffs his nasty all over my feet to tell me he’s ready to go potty. Buddha doesn’t care that it’s Christmas.
And I’ll trudge downstairs and I’ll see the presents I put under the tree the night before. I’ll wonder what Noah is doing at that very moment. I’ll wonder if he is squealing because the cookies got eaten or because he finally got that new bike he’s been begging for.
And I’ll eat a bowl of cereal. And I’ll dink around on the computer for a while. And I’ll take Buddha for a walk, somewhat annoyed that he doesn’t care that it’s Christmas.
And then my phone will ring. And it will be Noah’s mom and she’ll tell me they’re all done and I can come get Noah if I like.
And suddenly everything that sucked just seconds before is forgotten. And I’m not mad at Buddha anymore. And I get my kid. And I get to see his face light up as he sees that he has more presents waiting for him. And we both stuff chocolate into our faces. And I laugh as he tears into his new toys. And his happiness and excitement are everything I was sad that I was missing. And suddenly I realize…
It doesn’t matter when it happens or how it happens. It only matters that it happens.
And it always happens.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. Any of you divorced parents struggle with not having your kid on Christmas morning?