In case you aren’t familiar with this part of my backstory: my ex-husband Will has moved to a country far away. He was supposed to come back every two or three weekends but it was 6 weeks between his first and second visit. Now he’s not coming back until Christmas.
I went on vacation last week because Will had our son for the week. He took him to his new home for four nights. By all accounts, they had a great time. Sunday was the day for my son to come back to me.
Neither of us have cars. I lent mine to my Mom so she could go visit family, and I guess the car Will drove every day finally died and he hasn’t replaced it because, well, he doesn’t really live here right now.
Generally, we get along. There isn’t much animosity between us. But every once in a while, he makes me very angry. Usually, I’m good at saying to myself “he’s not your problem anymore” and moving on.
Our Christmas plans have been a long discussion over text and email the past couple of weeks. Will is going to be home for three weeks over the holidays and of course wants to spend as much time as possible with our son. In addition, we have to sort out the plans for Christmas eve and day. Which was a shit show at the best of times.
Last year, I had our son on Christmas eve. Christmas morning, really early, Will came to my house so we were both there when our son woke up. We all went to Will’s sisters for breakfast, then Will went back to his place for a couple of hours. He came back for dinner, where I had all of my parents (Mom, StepDad, Dad, StepMom), my kid brother, and my friend Katharine.
I thought it was a great compromise. But this year, apparently things need to change. Here’s a paraphrase of our conversations to date:
- Him: I would like to have him Christmas Eve and Christmas morning for breakfast with my Dad. You can have him Christmas Day from lunch onwards, and the 26th.
- Me: I would really like to see him Christmas morning before you go to your Dad’s, since it’s the most special time of day for him.
- Him: I can bring him by?
- Me: Can we talk about this? Why can’t I just come to your place so it’s less onerous for him?
- Him: Because that’s not nice for me? I totally agree we want less onerous for him, but I don’t want to do a mixed Christmas. Need less onerous for me too. I’m happy to think of an idea that’s fair and this was the best I could do. If you want Christmas morning then maybe we switch around and you do eve and I take him from breakfast on? It was awful last year. I don’t want to do mixed at all. Was very crappy. I don’t want to come for dinner. It just feels weird and I don’t want to do it again.
So today, sitting in what used to be my living room, Will asked about Christmas. He informed me that he and our son were spending Christmas eve with Colleen and the girls at his house, and they were all going to his Dad’s for breakfast.
He said, point blank: “I don’t want to spend any part of Christmas with you.” When I suggested it might be important to our son for him to spend time with his family, he said “we aren’t a family anymore.” Which sure, is technically true.
It was a bad time for me to have any kind of emotional discussion. I was only an hour from wrapping up the second post I wrote on my night and morning with Andrew. I was feeling rather vulnerable. The thought of my son having a perfect new family, with two female siblings, all together and happy on Christmas eve and morning, makes me very sad. Because I will be hanging out with my Mom. Without my son. Age 41 and single.
The reality is that there is nothing I can do about it. I’m not going to be one of those divorced people who rails against a reasonable plan, because it makes me uncomfortable. Will suggested, gently, that perhaps it would be more confusing for our son for the two of us to be together on Christmas morning. I retaliated that he was very clear we weren’t married anymore.
I had a weak moment and referred to Colleen as “new mummy”. To be fair, Will did respond with “Ann, come on…Colleen isn’t ‘new mummy’. You are his only mummy. Nobody else wants the job.”
Which led us to a conversation about how my being a single parents sucks ass. He simply doesn’t get it. But, back to the perfect new family thing, it’s not too surprising.
Just before it was time to leave, our son came downstairs and cuddled on the couch with him. Will looked over at me and said:
“Would you do anything differently?”
“No. Would you?”
“No, except I would done all this five years ago. I think you would have been happier”.
I had no response to that.