I love the idea of Christmas. Of any holiday really that conjures up images of a close network of emotionally healthy family and friends gathering together, clinking glasses with children under foot, cooking, eating, opening gifts, blah, blah.
But here's the thing, that's not my world. That's not my reality. I mean, sure I have family who I love (although we've been torn apart by Trumpian politics and Q-ideology). I have wonderful friends too, who spend Christmas with their husbands, children and their own extended family. The truth is, that what I mostly felt during the holidays was pressure, stress, sadness, and whole lot of loneliness.
Why? Because the holidays for me just seemed to be a mirror held up to my face reminding me of all I didn't have. I don't have a husband (or partner). I don't have a big family. I don't have a massive tribe of geographically close friends. I don't have a lot of disposable income. I don't have a lot of time, and I don't have a lot of help.
As a single mother, I have always felt a tremendous amount of pressure to create holiday magic for my son, especially to make up for all the things we lacked. So I indulged him with every holiday ritual old and new that I could think of. Tons of decorations including a real tree perfectly decorated, special gifts and stocking stuffers wrapped in either "mom paper" or "Santa paper," elves on stupid shelves, fake Santa-written letters left on an empty plate with cookie crumbs, and dirty boot prints leading from the fireplace. I even got Christmas stocking for our two dogs and cat!
I love the holidays and I hate the holidays. The holidays fill me with hope, and they also fill me with despair. The holidays remind me that I am surrounded by loved ones, and they also remind me that I am far more alone in this world than I'd like to be.
The holidays are filled with family, friends, lots of pretty decorations, and baking -- lots and lots of baking. The holidays are also filled what what I like to call bullshit -- lots and lots of bullshit, at least for those of us who feel compelled to live up to some culturally (and religiously)-inspired standard of what American holidays are supposed to be about -- tables filled with happy people, feasts befitting the royal family, an abundance of presents under a $150 tree, and so on, and so on.
I had my son during Christmas break in my second year of graduate school. I decided to go back to school on the heels of a very painful divorce, which involved years of infertility, two failed In Vitro fertilizations and just as many miscarriages.
Starting graduate school represented a new direction in my life, one that did not involve any remnants of my old life. I was a bit of a hot mess during that first year of school, while at the same time enjoying my newfound freedom from a crumbling marriage that was unable to survive the rigors of daily hormone injections, weekly trips to the fertility specialist and heartache; so much heartache.
When I realized I was pregnant from a brief rebound relationship, I was stunned by the news, as well as the irony. I quickly cleaned up my act though and powered through the rest of my graduate studies, because I was certain that in no time at all, I'd be back on track.
A traditional family life was once again on the horizon (albeit with a different husband).
This is a blog for middle-aged women, like me, who want to live a life of increased authenticity, and greater well-being, with fewer façades, less role-playing and a lot more fun. I chose a photo with myself and my son because he is my heart.
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