Here’s a big shoutout to all the people working today…and to their spouses and kids. For the families who have a family member who serves in public safety: you are amazing, valued and your sacrifice is recognized. I love holidays. And as a mom it is a joy to make them special for my family. Because Mike’s a firefighter he misses multiple holidays each year. It has taken a long time for me to find my how-to-be-solo for the holidays groove. Because I love holidays it always feels exceptionally disappointing when Mike’s working.
For years I tried to push down my feelings of disappointment that he was away for the holidays and simply focus on the positive: at least he was close enough to visit and not deployed for months to a war zone. There is a lot to be said for looking on the bright side. I’m truly grateful to have someone to miss.
But over the past year I’ve realized it is equally important to acknowledge feeling sad and even give myself time to process. Sometimes, as a holiday approaches and I feel disappointed that Mike will miss being with our family, I give myself a timeframe in which to indulge my negative feelings. It can be an hour. Usually not long, but at least a period in which all the feels are ok.
After the mope-a-thon though I move forward and have learned that we can’t, as a family, wait to make happy memories. Life is happening now and we are going to enjoy the holidays even if Mike’s working.
Looking for local things to do has helped the kids have a sense of excitement and anticipation. For a long time I thought it would be too stressful to invite people over when Mike was at work. This past 4th of July I invited several people over to walk to the nearby parade and have lunch at our home. It made the day so fun. It was much better than the holidays where we have just stayed home or kept things super easy. This Labor Day we went to a local art festival with friends and then had a few people join us for a play date.
I think it’s easy to somehow think that we need to have our whole family together before we make family memories. Unfortunately, that’s not really true. Many of our great memories involve Mike. But some do not. I feel like as the mom it is my privilege to organize holidays and make them a fun time for our family. And that includes me. I find I am so much happier if I have a few friends over or go somewhere. It was a pleasant surprise to me when I realized how many people have spouses who work holidays. Reaching out and finding friends who are in a similar place in life has made a huge difference.
So this holiday if your better half is away, know you are not truly alone. There are so many people whose spouses are working today too and miss them. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone can make the biggest difference. Some of my friends have spouses in public safety, others have spouses who work for for the airlines. But we have this in common – we are often parenting alone on holidays and weekends.
Our children are worth us making the effort to make the day special. It can’t be perfect but we can still create those happy memories which make life beautiful.