Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Blame My Parent's Divorce: Holiday Edition

Divorce is ugly. It's the ending of what was suppose to be a lifelong commitment. Some kids have to experience divorce as a young child where all decisions are made for them. Others experience it as a teenager or adult and are able to voice their feelings and opinions. I unfortunately fell into the first category. 

I've said it before, I'm thankful my parents decided to divorce. They were a hot mess together and are much better apart. I was five when they divorced. I am one of those 'survivor' types of personalities. I fight through the tough times and appear to everyone to "adapt well." to changes. 

Truth is, being subjected to my parent's divorce as a young child has had a long lasting impression on me. It causes me to do things instinctively without even realizing why. It wasn't until I was recently defending my choices that I had a self-realization. 

I'm a holiday traditions psycho.

It's true.

When I was little I would be shuffled from one gathering to the next. I'd spend an hour, MAYBE two at one house before rushing off to the next. A typical Thanksgiving or Christmas would have me traveling from 4-6 different family events, PLUS doing something with my mom and then my dad.

There would be arguments about who got me for what and what time. Dirty looks got shot across cold parking lots when the other party was late for the transfer of the merchandise (me).

I was always jealous of my friends who would talk about the fun they had during the holidays. The games they played and how everyone was at their house. I only knew drive, say hi, eat, then repeat.

As I got older, I still felt that I had to hold to those commitments. I had to make every part of my family happy with my presence.

Jason and I started dating and that only intensified our duty to run around like chickens with our heads cut off. We would have to miss a few places, only because there was so much overlap, but we worked it into a rotation. It was hectic, but doable.

Then kids came into play. Layne was 5 days old when he attended his first Thanksgiving. It was horrible. We had a 3 year old, 1 year old and a newborn. We were functioning on zero sleep. We didn't enjoy a moment of the gathering as we were trying to wrangle our children from tearing the house down. I don't even think I ate a meal.

That was the final straw.

I was done.

We don't go anywhere for the holidays now. We've adopted the motto, "If you want to see us, come to us."

It sounds selfish, I know. For the last two years I've used the kids as an excuse. We didn't want to take a little baby out in the cold or Dayton got too worked up in a new environment with lots of people. Both of the reasons were valid. But the realization I've had is:

I never got to just hang out and enjoy everything that the holidays had to offer or have set family traditions, and I don't want that for my kids. I want them to look back on the holidays with joy and happiness, not chaotic interstate travels.
So I'm sorry we aren't coming over for the holidays, and that we missed seeing you. Maybe we can get together at another time, but the holidays are for my kids and our little family. We are building memories and maintaining traditions. I hope you can understand the importance of this for us.

And to the families that run around like crazy people during the holidays, if it doesn't sit well in your stomach, stop. You can't make everyone happy all the time. You have to do what is best for you and your family, not everyone else. And if that means that you order take-out on Christmas Eve and kids go to bed at the regular bed time, that's fine!

I hope you all had a joyous Thanksgiving and are celebrating Christmas in a few weeks in the best way you know how to! Make those memories!

Photo by Tori Bruno Photography
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