Our Christmas holiday has been a little upside down and every which way this year. We haven't quite got our groove with the new reality - one home from College determining his own schedule, one almost ready to leave the nest and our youngest - 14- still needing and wanting structure in a Holiday schedule.
In years past, the schedule simply rotated from year to year - one family spent the week before Christmas through Christmas Day at two o'clock with the kids - the other family spent Christmas Day through New Years Day. No negotiation, that was just the deal we had all agreed too. Parents and kids looked forward to essentially a Holiday break from the divorce schedule.
This year when we acknowledged Jax"s freedom to make his own schedule as an "adult" we indirectly gave that freedom to Little Hart 14. Something that she was neither prepared to handle or should be expected to handle. In years past Jax and Little Hart traveled together during the Christmas break.
Before this Holiday I suggested my Hubby work with Greta to set a schedule for Little Hart over the Holidays, but he was reluctant, thought we should let her follow Jax's lead. Little Hart seemed content with the plan until Jax expressed his desire to spend much of the time before Christmas here because it had been so limited over Thanksgiving. Sensing Greta's disappointment over Jax's decision - Little Hart decided to spend much of the week before Christmas at Greta's.
Raylan and Greta agreed before the Holiday to a schedule for Christmas Eve and Day so there wouldn't be competing celebrations and the kids felt torn between the two households. It was loosely based upon the traditional schedule we've had in the past.
Technically this would have been our year to have the kids Christmas Eve/Christmas morning, but our kids are now teenagers so celebrating Christmas Eve on the actual day is slightly anti-climatic. Greta's three younger kids are counting the minutes until Santa arrives! So we traded the nights. The scheduled Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities went off without a hitch in both households!
Other than that it's been sort of a free for all. Little Hart asked a number of times what the schedule was for the Holiday before Jax arrived home - commenting that she wished someone would just tell her where and when she should be at each house.
The couple of days before Christmas and the days after, Jax has spent them at Greta's and is planning on staying through the weekend. I assume Little Hart will chose to stay through the weekend as well. The hard part for our family has been Little Hart's absence from the bulk of time we have spent with Jax. On the other hand, when Jax has been at Greta's their entire family has been together.
When Raylan asked for Jax's decisions to be the guiding force for Little Hart's holiday schedule, it put a lot of weight on his decisions. When those decisions didn't match up with a parent's expectations Little Hart felt the pressure to try and make things right. It unintentionally put a huge burden on both kids, something we had managed to successfully avoid up until this Christmas.
Even with the confusion, our Christmas celebration as a family was fantastic! The kids have had a great time in both homes. After seeing the unintentional consequences, Raylan decided to create structure for the final days of the Holiday. Little Hart will stay at Greta's through New Years day and then come home for two days to hang out as a family. Jax has agreed to spend those two days here as well. Our entire family is looking forward to being all together for a couple of days.
In our divorce family situation, I've found our kids feel pressure to read the tea leaves when the things like an entire holiday schedule is left up to them. Giving the kids a structured schedule gives them permission to be at each household without the expectation that they may be letting one parent down. In four years it will be time to give that responsibility to Little Hart in the meantime we will let her be just a kid.
This Holiday season I'm concentrating on the great times we spent together and know we have room for improvement next year as we adapt to our changing family dynamics.