Monday, December 21, 2009

Bah Humbug...

I usually love the Christmas season, when I can keep the excess within reason. I have had one or two seasons where it was too much shopping, too much cookie making, too many batches of fudge and too many places to be. I have found that if I can start my shopping some time in October, I do a lot better and everything doesn't feel like "too much." I was always chasing the 'Norman Rockwell' Christmas and by last year I felt we were close. We had our traditions down (Christmas Eve Fondue dinner, opening jammies and an ornament before bed, etc.) and were well on our way to the really fun Christmas mornings because Junior had finally figured out who Santa was and what role he played. He wrote a note for Santa and left the cookies out and generally just started to get into it. This year should have been great. I have two boys who are so excited for Christmas to be here and are so into choosing gifts for everyone and wanting to help wrap and make the cookies and decorate the tree. I should be loving this, but I am finding myself feeling hollow (as in, the opposite of fulfilled) because such a crucial element is missing and I know I can't expect it back no matter how many Christmas stars I have wished on. We miss our Daddy. And it sucks. And it is showing through in so many ways. I still feel like I am in shock, Junior has been having major crying fits (not temper tantrums, I am talking heaving, gasping, sobbing crying fits) where I don't know what else to do but hold him on my lap, rub his back and let him get it all out. I have never heard him cry like that. His poor world is not right and I don't blame him. His crying sounds very familiar. Anytime we head out to a Christmas related activity, they ask if Dad is coming and if we can invite him. It is so hard not to. Both boys panic a little when I discipline them for something and any reprimand is followed up with "I love you, mom." It would sound sweet if it didn't happen a billion times a day and if I didn't know it was flat out bargaining on their part. And a billion and one times a day, I remind them that daddy always loves them and I always love them even when I am cranky or they are in trouble and most importantly that 'moms don't leave'. Bubba may be starting to get it because he has begun to test me by saying "I don't love you!" (now, why does that sound so familiar?) The boys count down the days until they get to see dad, but spend the hours before going telling me how much they will miss me, and it is more of that when they return. I wish they didn't have this confusion and feeling of divided loyalties. Neither J or I have tried to make them take sides. I know for my part, we talk about 'Dad' a lot and I encourage them to share how much they love him and miss him. I assume he handles his side of things similarly but regardless, they feel divided and no child should have to handle emotions like that. I spend my time being alternately devastated and angry that we are all still suffering so much at the hands of the one who is supposed to at least help us feel safe and secure.

So, this season hasn't been great even though I thought I was prepared for it and genuinely have been trying to keep up a Tiny Tim attitude as opposed to the Scrooge one that seems more natural right now. I can't seem to get my mind around my new situation. I spend most of my days trying to avoid triggers, but they jump out at me anyway. I can't pass a men's clothing section in any store without automatically assessing whether or not J needs anything before I catch myself. Our tradition has always been to get each other Christmas pajamas and I pass every display with extra sadness. As for myself, I couldn't decide whether I should just buy myself a new pair to fit in with the kids and be pathetic or not get any and be a martyr. I went with pathetic, mostly since my recent weight loss has made most of my old pajamas too big. This is the first Christmas in ten years that I have not gone gift shopping for J and I hate the feeling. I considered it a special challenge to try to find something he would love or really wanted.

On the flip side, I have an amazing, sensitive family who know me very well and have tried to forestall any unnecessary triggers for me. Weeks ago, they forbade me to go anywhere near my ornament box, which holds my only collection. For the last eleven years, I have been collecting an ornament from every country I visit and every vacation I go on. Over the years, the ornament collection has expanded to include one every year that best represents our year (i.e. a little house when we bought this house, a car ornament for J for the year he bought a car he really loved, a hummingbird ornament for the year he began his business since he was so busy, going from one project to another, etc.) My tree has never been matchy, but every ornament has a story. They are not up this year. I am not even sure what I will do in future years. I can't bring myself to throw away the little ceramic bird from our honeymoon in Mexico, or the ornament that commemorates the year we got married. Being ditched by your spouse tends to really stink when you are a sentimental junkie like me. Everything hurts and it hurts worse to throw it away. Any ideas for an ornament that represents this year? Do they sell broken heart ornaments? A trash can? A gilded mini divorce decree? Most likely I will go with something that says 'hope" although I haven't gotten it yet.
This year my family banded together and sent me a box of all new trigger-free ornaments and my tree has never been so pretty. We went with red and gold with white lights and if the tree was fake I would be tempted to leave it up permanently since the sight and glow of it is so comforting. Thank you family...
You know what else will raise your spirits? One of these from my amazing sister, who seems to really get how much a beautiful appliance can make someone smile (and it matches the high chair, my curtains and my dish towels). Thank you Bek!

I all but kiss it good night along with the kids, I love it so much...I had one of these before, but had to go with the best price on ebay and ended up with a boring but serviceable black one, which has found a new home with my older sister Jen in return for all the babysitting she did over the summer for me while I tried to keep my whole life from falling apart.

I keep thinking about how last year I never would have expected to be in this position this year. I knew we would have a six month old baby by then, but didn't think anything else would have changed too drastically. I am really trying to enjoy this season for the boys sake but the truth is that I just want it to be over. I am looking forward to Christmas morning, which I have chosen to keep quiet with just me and the kids, because I so rarely get to be the bearer of fun things. These days, I am the one making them do chores and stop fighting and be respectful. I am not looking forward to not sharing that fun morning with the father of my kids, or the idea that doing so is no longer in the cards. I suppose the thing that will get me through this Christmas season is the idea that my life has altered so much once, it can change again and hopefully for the better. I don't want to assume I will be in the same position this time next year. I don't know who will be in or out of my life by then but I can't imagine it could feel worse than this year. I know I will have an almost seven year old, a four year old and an 18 month old who will be getting her first doll. I hope for peace in my heart by then although I am still taking that one on faith that it can and will come. I have yet to catch a glimpse of how this will all turn out ok.

In the meantime, I have two more days in which I am not allowed starches or sugar but after that, anything (within reason) goes...What delicious thing should I make in my beautiful new mixer? If you live near me, you can come help me eat it. I promise to put away my scrooge like feelings for the evening :-)


  1. I have been thinking about you so much this week--I know this stinks big time. You are in my prayers all the time--I just wish there was more I could do. Anytime you want to hit El Paso we would love to have you! (I know. Yay, El Paso.)

    And I can attest that the KitchenAid is PERFECT for Marshmallows and Buttermilk Pie.

  2. I'm thinking I would really enjoy cinnamon rolls or of course chocolate chip cookies, since I am not baking this year. Not because I'm on a diet (please like that would happen) but because I'm too freaking busy. And I will totally scrooge it up with you. Christmas makes me crazy, it is not my favorite time of year and I don't even have a really good reason.

  3. Love that new Kitchenaid! And I love that you have all new ornaments this year. It must be so, so hard. I can't even begin to imagine. But I am continually amazed by your grace and strength. Your kids are lucky to have you as a mama.

  4. I hope that you have a magical Christmas, despite all the turmoil that is plaguing your life at the moment. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I think you are amazing!