Ever since I became a parent, I've had to juggle.
Schedules. Transportation. Money. Priorities. Childcare.
When I became a single parent, I had to add holidays to that list.
Ex1 and I split just before Thanksgiving, so we immediately had to decide who got the kids for the holiday and who got to spend the day alone. Then Christmas, then New Years....on and on it went until all of the paperwork was signed and dated and we got into a routine.
Even when we did have a routine, things always changed. He has local family and I don't - so I've always tried to be flexible so that the kids didn't miss holiday celebrations with their extended families. Then other kids came along, and ultimately other schedules - and for me, trying to keep all of my kids together for holidays became a huge juggling act no matter what day we actually celebrated whatever holiday it was.
I admit that I tried to be difficult about it at times. Sometimes I got my way, and sometimes I didn't. But somehow I always managed to squeeze some sort of holiday celebration into whatever time the 6 of us had together.
Yesterday, The Dude and I had to make another crazy road trip to Kansas City, and at some point during the drive it suddenly dawned on me that Easter is this weekend. EASTER IS THIS WEEKEND. How did that happen?
My brain went into overdrive while I tried to figure out how to make Easter happen within the walls of the house since it was obviously going to happen in the real world no matter what. I already know that I have no chance of having the older 3 kids at all during the weekend because Ex1 and his wife are returning from a weeklong missions trip out of the country and her parents are in town, so they're going to want the kids. Alex's father already made plans to take him for at least a day or two and I'm not going to stand in the way of that. So maybe we can do Easter the following weekend - but I'm running a half-marathon that Saturday, so I'm going to be useless for the rest of the weekend. So maybe we can do it during the week instead and who am I trying to kid because that would just be insane.
Then suddenly it dawned on me......wait a second. Friday. The kids don't have school. They'll all be here until about noonish when the older 3 have to head back to Ex1's.
The solution was as simple as breakfast. We'll have a huge breakfast Friday morning, like a big Good Friday/Easter breakfast, and they can get their Easter baskets and we can be pigs and eat junk all morning and then the older 3 can go where they need to go and we got our time together for the holiday (and then realistically, I don't have to cook a big dinner because we had a big breakfast so I'm actually getting off easy here) and it's all good.
The constant juggling is hard. There have been times when I've felt as though I've had 87 different things up in the air all at once - some of them were on fire, some of them came at me like bricks while others floated around like feathers, some of them crumbled into dust as soon as I touched them, and some of them slammed to the ground and shattered because I didn't have enough hands to catch them all.
I think that the most important thing that I've learned over the past decade+ of single parenting is that no matter what, everything is going to work out in the end. We might not get exactly what we want but sometimes the best gift we can give our kids is to show them that we can be flexible and make the most out of any situation. We might not get our big Easter dinner as a family, but we're going to have a hell of a breakfast together before they go off in different directions.
And then I'm going to sit back with a giant cup of coffee and relax for a little bit. Just because.