In the last 9 years since losing custody of my youngest son, after transplanting myself and three older children to another state for employment opportunities, I have spent just one Christmas holiday with him. It was last year - not the best of scenarios - it was the blizzard of all blizzards - it took me three days to get from NYC to Chicago. I made the best of it, I am good at that - in spite of spending the time at the home of my former husband who has custody.
This week, I was excited as I made arrangements for a new mobile account - the bright blue phone was scheduled to arrive at his home on or before Christmas Eve. It was not to be - I found out, quite by accident, that my former husband had neglected to apprise me that he had chosen that exact same present.
I will be spending Christmas again alone - away from my children - that is not the issue - they are, after all grown, but the one who tugs at my heartstrings and brings many tears to my eyes is the youngest - he is a mere 12 years old - in need of a mother's love. Yes, I call and send packages and cards, notes etc, but since his father controls his comings and goings, I have not spoken with him since before Thanksgiving. I wanted him to have his own phone so that I can call him again regularly like I did in the days when they had a landline at their home - I would call in the mornings before school and after to see how his day went.
I don't know what sort of gift to get him at this late date, but I do know that the holidays bring a special set of challenges to single parents, particularly those who do not have custody.
I will make the best of if - as stated, I am good at doing same - I impore my readers who have these same challenges to please work with the non-custodial parent - there are reasons we are no longer together, but that should not mean that we ignore the tender needs of these precious children whom we have brought into this world. For 9 years, I have tried and tried to make things work without involving the courts, but that time has clearly come.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa to all the non-custodial parents out there in the world.