I broke down in front of my girls. Now it was my turn to cry under the stress of it all. It was Easter. No family gathering. A pre-made rather than homemade meal was planned. The girls’ Easter baskets were empty for the first time in history because the gift I planned to give was on back-order due to high demand under the pandemic (it wasn’t toilet paper – it was a gaming system).
Then my girls were being playful and reciting what Easter would “normally” be like. Their grandparents and uncle would be over for dinner. Their aunt and cousins would be late and only come for dessert because they would spend time with the other side of their family. We would all get dressed up, set the table with china, and delight in our annual bunny cake. That is what it is normally like. We are normally a family filled with fun traditions around holidays.
On the way to Hy-Vee to pick up my pre-made meal, I started crying in the car. I didn’t want Easter to be now – like this. I wanted my family with me. I wanted there to be complaints about me ruining the mashed potatoes… again. I didn’t want to be crying on Easter in front of my daughter.
Anna sat in the car while I ran in to get the meal and compose myself. When I returned she sadly observed that it was like living in an end-of-the-world movie. No one was talking to each other. No one was smiling. People were distanced from each other.
I was raw and restless in the face of this reality. Hopelessness fell over me and weighed me down. I just wanted to claw my way out of this version of life.
But more than that, I want my freedom back. I miss sitting on the soccer fields for hours in the spring. I miss driving my girls around on the weekends and hearing their happy chatter and gossip about school. I miss having their best friends over every weekend they are with me for sleepovers – they have become our adopted family. I miss my actual family – so much. I just cannot do it anymore.
I have had these hard holidays before. Those holidays that first met me without my girls during the first year post-divorce. I recalled how I got through. I remembered. I chose to make the holidays special no matter the circumstances. No matter if that meant we had Thanksgiving on a Saturday instead of Thursday. No matter if that meant we moved birthday party days around within a week or two of the actual day. I knew how to do this.
We got home and I hopped in the shower. I instructed the girls to arrive for dinner in their Easter best. I soon heard them happy and giggling from the bathroom as they applied make-up and did their hair. I pulled out the china and candles for the table. I decorated my bunny cake with flare. I heated up our pre-made meal and transferred the contents to bright and colorful casserole dishes.
I shifted my focus from lack to love. I looked instead to the positive instead of to pity. Just like I have done so many times before as a divorced mom. I see that the hardness of my divorce has well prepared me for all of the hard moments to come. I chose to take that in as an Easter blessing.