Tracy - It is great to see you sounding so motivated and with such a "can do" attitude - I know that things aren't easy for you at the moment, but it sounds like you're ready to tackle whatever comes your way, I feel a real sense of pride reading your post! :)
From here - Today was our first "dad-less Christmas"....last year although me and my ex lived apart we were still amicable and close enough to have a family Christmas with our girls, but this is no longer an option for us. The day went really well and a lovely time was had by all, but as I reflect this evening it's really noticeable how much things have changed in recent years.
After the drama of the 6 year old who was too excited to sleep (and the sister she kept awake), Santa didn't come until 3am, so it was a late start for us today - the girls woke up at 9.40am. They were so excited and pleased with their gifts, that their father didn't even get mentioned. We collected my mother and brought her back here, she played with the girls whilst I cooked. From the kitchen I could hear my youngest in tears and keep saying she was bored, I popped in from time to time suggesting things she might do, but none of my suggestions were good enough. As I stood over the stove, my eyes smarted, I wanted to cry, because I felt like I'd failed - for the first time ever on Christmas Day there was boredom and a miserable atmosphere in the house, not the usual happiness and laughter. I'd believed I was enough, that I could do things just as well on my own, but I was wrong.
Over the course of the afternoon, I became aware of what really lay behind the tears and dull atmosphere (aside from tiredness). My daughter had kept asking my mother to help her set up new toys or play new games, and my mother had been unable to help her and kept saying "we'll have to put that to one side and ask mummy later" or "we'll see if mummy can do it after dinner". I realised that not only was it something my ex would've done to a certain degree whilst I was cooking, but our lateness getting up had meant I hadn't had time to do some of these things earlier. More than that my mother's health isn't what it was - she has cataracts in both eyes and she also gets tremors in her hands which affect her fine motor skills (doc suspects onset of Parkinson's), my dad is no longer here to do those things (this is our 3rd Christmas without him), and my eldest is no longer a doting big sister who plays with her sister lots, she's a hormonal teenager who thinks her little sister is "a pain".
It wasn't me, I hadn't failed, times have just changed!
Once the meal was out of the way, I was able to do all the things my girls needed me to do, the batteries, setting up fiddly toy sets, reading instructions on unfamiliar games etc, and happiness, giggling and laughter filled the house, just as it always has done on Christmas Day....right up until we took mum home at 8.30pm, and came back and got the girls into bed.
I'm sat here looking at the gifts they've bought/made for me, and I'm so proud of them both, as they didn't have their father to take them off shopping to buy me something this year - but they clearly think the world of me and didn't let that stop them. My eldest thought of such a fab gift, a sjoelen board, that she used her spends to buy, and took the initiative of asking my mum if she would order it for her from Amazon. Sjoelen because it was a game we saw for the first time on holiday in October, that I always fancied but never got to play as the start of the organised tournaments coincided with organised children's activities that my little one wanted to go to, so we'd just watch the end of the sjoelen on the way back, and I'd always comment that I fancied trying my hand at it. And my youngest sold some of her old toys and used the money to buy me some lovely gifts (aided in the shop by big sis), but she also made me a jar, and has put on the outside "I love you because you make me smile" and has filled it with rolled up pieces of paper with pictures, jokes, notes, love hearts etc, and told me that if I ever feel a bit sad I can look at them and they will make me happy, or I can just look at them anyway because they're nice/funny.
So yes, times have changed, both the men in my life are no longer present, my mother's health limits her actions and she needs more compassion and care, and my girls are growing up! They are having to deal with the changes too, but are becoming more resourceful, and being more caring and considerate than ever :) I feel truly blessed!