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Today I had my first festive cry of the season. Pretty good as it’s the 29th December and I’ve waited until 2 hours until the kids come home before having my Christmas sob, not so good when you consider the fact I’m presently only 20% human: the rest of me is made up of sausage rolls and red wine.
It took a text from my best friend asking simply asking how I am to make me go all chin-wobbly, and I’ve spent the half hour since wondering why.
The thing is, spending Christmas without your kids is one of the most miserable things ever. I don’t say that to be melodramatic, it’s true. If you have even a sniff of a child in your life from November to January you’ll know how this period is geared towards them… it’s all about magic. And magic us good for adults, yes, but heaven for kids. It’s MECCA for kids. Magic is what kids live for.
I usually combat all this magic and happiness by resolutely ignoring anything to do with Christmas. This year I didn’t put any decorations up – the move being the perfect excuse – and used time off work to do non-festive things with much missed friends. I watched movies, (Magic Mike XXL is about as un-Christmassy as you can get), read both of Sali Hughes’s books cover-to-cover and took approximately 16 long LONG baths. I went to see family on Christmas day but instead of hanging around for charades and a stilton coma I spent the evening at one of my favourite London bars drinking Old Fashioneds with a very handsome man.
I stayed away from happy family posts on Social Media (but read any in-law drama with a sense of relief-bordering-on-glee) and stuck to plastering wine rather than wrapping paper and festive cheer all over my Instagram stories.
Altogether I think I side-stepped Christmas pretty deftly: bravo, Ms Grinch.
But I completely underestimated just how bored I’d be in this Christmas-New Year limbo time. Not only am I missing my children fiercely, with friends still being all festive with their loved ones, unless I decide to join in and get all jolly there’s literally nothing to do.
I wasn’t mental enough to queue up outside Next on Boxing day in the hopes of scoring 30% off things I would never want to buy at full price and the only shop I did need to visit (IKEA) was closed on 26th: so I napped and ate a microwave curry for one.
When I made it to my Swedish mecca on the 27th it was absolutely rammed with couples arguing over worktop colours and photo frames; I got home with a physical need to be away from people and their noise but also with a newfound appreciation for not being part of a bickering couple.
I did all my other sales shopping online – John Lewis, M&S, FeelUnique, thank you very much – which wasted about an hour, and spent a day at the gym and health club. I slept until I could sleep no more, I did all the washing in the house and changed my sheets a crazy amount of times. I took a bootful of crap to the tip, organized my wardrobe and replied to over a hundred emails.
And then I had a cry because Bryony asked me how I was and I thought NO – I’M BORED. I’m a mum and I’m sick of not mothering.
Yep, that’s what almost 8 days of being without my children has done for me: I’ve got over missing them like arms, ploughed through spending Christmas without them. I am bored, unnecessary.
Without Elfie and Hux being around, my days somewhat feel without purpose. And I don’t mean this disrespectfully to the people who don’t have kids, I found plenty of purpose in my days before they were around, but as a mother without her children I am almost… redundant. Lost. Alone.
It’s not all bad news. I had my last lie-in this morning and thanked whatever gods gave me these precious few times to enjoy an entirely hot cup of tea in bed. I took in my M&S sales delivery and tried everything on in peace without a toddler hand clutching at an ankle or a thigh. I glanced around one last time at my impeccable living room knowing that within hours it will once again be littered with LEGO, hama beads and loom bands.
But at that moment I knew I’d give up all of it – the lie-ins, the peace, the tea, the tidiness – to be with my children.
Good thing that, as they’ll be back to incite chaos in a mere matter of minutes. Which is when I’ll start to look forward to next Christmas, otherwise known as the year the children will be with me. This year I’ll be allowed to go stark-raving bonkers mental about the whole shindig from November onwards, just like the kids. I can’t wait.
Happy Christmas to everyone out there, whether you’ve avoided the whole Christmas period or not.