Thursday, December 15, 2011

why Christmas concerts suck

Image from here....

I have been working really hard at being upbeat and positive this Christmas. I consciously remind myself of the wonderful things in my life - amazing kids, great friends, a rewarding job, an amazing community, etc. I don't want to whine. I certainly don't wish to have others internally groan and roll their eyes if I talk about how lame the holidays are as an only parent or a widow. I keep beating myself over the head with intentions of positivity and quotes about gratitude. I very often feel that I have reached the lauded grieving stage of "acceptance".
But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel myself thinking, "This sh*t blows."
I had one of these moments yesterday as I raced to my kid's Christmas concert at school. Parking was terrible and as I ran down the road I could see pairs of other parents converging on the school together.
Inside the gym, I grinned maniacally at my kids trying to instill the feelings of "Mom, is so proud!" "You're doing great!"
Briar stared back woodenly dressed in a floral apron whilst limply holding a large spoon. He was surrounded by numerous other five year olds who sang about Christmas baking and cookies for Santa. His look implied that he was truly annoyed to be forced on-stage with all the tres eager little girls singing their hearts out and shell-shocked little boys who mouthed the words quietly. Jeff would have laughed hysterically at the expression.
Liv looked so tiny sandwiched between two enormous classmates. Her little mouth framed each word perfectly and I felt that I could hear her voice clear above all others in the gymnasium. My eyes started to well thinking about the pride Jeff would have felt watching her long and gangling little arms act out the required motions to the obscure carol her class sang.
All around me parents stood together giggling at their children's antics and video taping the show for later viewing. Some held hands and others took turns holding babies or getting cups of hot chocolate from the treat table for each other.
I know there were other "single" parents in the crowd....but at that moment, I could only see all the lovey Hallmark card families....And it made me want to spontaneously cry and spit on them.
I was afraid the kids would witness my melt down so I attempted to distract myself by getting Briar to smile. As I watched him stare back at me with a look that imparted his immense displeasure, I covertly administered bunny ears to the father standing against the wall beside me. I stuck out my tongue. I pretended to pick my nose. Nothing worked and I worried that he possibly was looking around and noticing, as I had, all the perfect sets of parents filling so many of the seats.
When time came for me to deek out the side door and head to work, I waved to Liv and mouthed "I love you the whole pie".
As I ran up the hill back to my car, I had tears streaming down my face. It broke my heart to be the only parent witnessing my kiddos triumphs and insecurities. I hated, in that moment, those Christmas joy-filled parents and all that their togetherness represented.
I realize that, to my children, this is the life that they lead. That this is the one that Briar has really ever known and, that to Liv, it is now normal. But I felt angered and horrifically saddened by this.
I don't want to be the ONLY one who loves them ferociously. I am sick of being the one who has to think up stories to bolster Briar's belief of Santa when he comes home from kindergarten saying that a bigger kid told him that the man in the red suit is all a lie. I feel the injustice of having to decide on my own whether "re-belief" is the stance to take or not on my own. I don't want to attend this shit alone.
And amid all this un-advanced grief, I know that I need to just accept that this is how life is now. That no amount of railing against Jeff's death will fix it. But right now, I just want to cry and stomp my feet instead. Maybe tomorrow I will choose to force myself into positivity again....But right now, this shit sucks.


  1. ABSOLUTELY JACKIE! It all does suck and you are so entitled to stomp your feet and scream as loud as you like. This doesn't mean that you are weak, ungrateful, or bitter. It just proves to us that you are human and missing Jeff as a husband and a father for your children.

    THANK YOU for "allowing" me to act up in the same manner and say it out loud..."this shit sucks!" Although I'll keep smiling to the rest of the world.....

    Hugs to you and your wonderful children.

  2. Thank you for sharing perfectly the range of emotions we go through when going to these "Joyful" gatherings. Jackie please share photos with us. Tell us like you did here what made you proud. At least here on WV the other mothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers get how even in joy of seeing our babies grow...we are doing alone and grieving ever so much more than we are already 24/7. The next group event one of my kids are in I am going to share it on my photos section. The photo taking was the hardest because I would start crying thinking Duke is not here to show this too or to look back on it when they R grow and to share the memory with me. I started to take photos again of the kids- but I think I lost many months without the camera or video. Now I take photos Just for Me and my Boys...mostly and perhaps if lucky on day thier spouses and children. Please share any photos - if you did get them. ((hugs)Kindergarten recital behind you. Does not get easier...just different.

  3. "I love you the whole pie"

    Oh how that hurts to read.

    I have boycotted Christmas for the last 3 years since my wife died and I admire the strength you have for your children.

  4. Hi Jackie, I know those feelings very well, but I wonder if we should think about the times we were those other parents and that perhaps there was another widow/widower going thru the same thing and we never noticed? Is there maybe another widow/widower in the school that would go with you to these events. Just a thought.

  5. Amen, Jackie! I wish I could say it gets better, but I think we just get better at pretending how great it is for the sake of our children and everybody else. That is what we do, just make everybody else feel better,even though we still have the broken heart and things are not all that great for us. Thank goodness we can share all the nastiness we feel here on this blog..................

  6. My daughter's choir concert is tonight. Each one I attend I feel so much pride in her but so much sadness that Mike isn't there. He was in his schools choir as well as a teenager and attending her concerts was always such a joy for him. I feel him with me at each one but it tears me up that I can't reach out and touch him.

  7. They are very hard for me too. The first few times, i listened from the hallway and didn't even set foot in the gym. The first time i sat through, i focused on being elsewhere and completely tuned out so I could hold it together. But all I could think about is how my child would never hear their dad say he loved them, ever again.

    The parent left standing takes on all their children's grief as well.

  8. Thanks Jackie! You said it so well. My husband died right before our daughter graduated from high school and I felt exactly as you did attending all the functions that year. This year will be three years since my husband died and I still get waves of those feelings, when I see all the other couples with their children. We do have a right to stomp and get mad. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Many times these posts have perfect timing... today is one of those times. I just left my daughter's Christmas play. She was so cute in her Christmas dress singing her heart out with the other Kindergarten classmates. One of the older grades sang some sad song about being alone on Christmas. Now I'm an emotional mess. This sh*t does suck. This will be our second Christmas without him. In many ways, it is easier than last year but in others its not.

    It helps to know that others feel the same way I do.

  10. this shit does suck, and I love you so much for not being positive.

    I mean, I'll love you when you're feeling positive too.

  11. "I don't want to whine. I certainly don't wish to have others internally groan and roll their eyes if I talk about how lame the holidays are as an only parent or a widow."
    I know this feeling all too well. After 18 months (yesterday) I feel compelled to remain upbeat and positive around my friends. Yes. If they start to ask enough questions I will crack and breakdown but in general I don't want to be a downer.
    I wonder how long I have to go on - 'faking it'.
    We have one son, and he's not in school anymore and moved out a few months ago. I feel for you - the added burden of faking it for your kids. :(
    And I bought a tree two weeks ago. It took a week to get it up and another week later I still only have the lights up. I'm wondering why I bothered - except that I thought I'd feel worse without it.
    "....But right now, this shit sucks."
    Amen sister!

  12. I just bought a tree today after wondering if I even wanted one at all. The previous 2 years I had one, just not the one I used all the years Mike was alive, or my "special" ornaments. I just couldn't do it. So today I decided I would use my "special" ornaments, just not the beautiful fake lighted/fiber optic tree that Mike always said looked so beautiful. This third Christmas without him is worse than the previous two for some reason. I guess because after almost 32 months, this whole thing still sucks. And although I don't cry as much as I did I don't feel I am anywhere near letting him go. At least I don't have the heartbreak of those with kids. And yes, I have a way to pay my house payments and bills, and I try to remember there are those not as lucky. But Mike was only 62...I know many of you younger widows think that is old, but it's not really. I am 58 and as far as I am concerned, its all over but the shouting for me. I muddle through each day, but happy? Not even. Thank you for not having one of these little uplifting "it will be better" speeches because I am not in the mood for it. This shit sucks.

  13. To Anon above.... I could have written your post. That is exactly where I'm at. So sick of faking it for my grown children's sake! This shit SUCKS!!!! I wonder if I could find a t-shirt with that on it???

  14. It will still suck a hundred years from Now!