For the first time in her almost seventeen years of life, my baby girl is not here on Thanksgiving night to cuddle up with me and watch movies until way too late in the evening. Tomorrow there will be no binge shopping for Christmas gifts at way to crowded malls and, we won’t be able to have a movie and lunch date on Saturday. While this makes me incredibly sad, it also makes me an incredibly proud mom. Sad because my little girl is not so little anymore and proud because my little girl is growing up and becoming more responsible and, independent than I ever was at her age.
When I was sixteen and a junior in high school I was running around with my friends, having fun and on Thanksgiving night, after dinner, I was probably planning a sleep over with some of those friends because “Mom… there’s no school tomorrow and you can sleep in“. Awesome reasoning, I know!! As I got older and Thanksgiving became more of family time holiday for me, coincidentally after I became a mom at twenty-four, it became more important for me to snuggle my little one while spending the evening with family instead of making plans to go out. But if I’m really being honest with myself and with you, my readers, it wasn’t always the perfect time that it sounds like. Actually it, more often than not, became a very sad time of year for me. This year for a different reason than all of the others. Looking back on long gone Thanksgivings there are a few that really stand out as the saddest of them all.
There was the Thanksgiving that we spent with T’s dad and his family, which would be the last time either of us, me or T, saw her grandmother to date. It was disgustingly cold out, T was only about four years old and we were bundled up in my car driving an hour and a half North West to some Podunk little town where the houses are all a two-mile drive into the woods and your closest neighbor lives far enough away that at night, you can’t even see their lights. This was also the first year that we didn’t have Thanksgiving with my family, that I didn’t have Thanksgiving with my family. It was okay though because this was normal, wasn’t it? When two families are involved you have to split your time so I didn’t complain and just went with the flow. When we arrived it was like walking into a rain forest, it was so hot inside the open concept three bedroom modular home, that I instantly regretted wearing the red sweater set with the red sequined accents on the front. It was adorable for sure, but truly unpractical for this event. It also became abundantly clear to me that I was never going to fit into his family and he was never going to be the husband I had been hoping for.
Of course the food was amazing as always although it was the same stuff they routinely ate; rice and pigeon peas, pork shoulder, salad, tostones and this other thing I don’t know the name of. Somehow eating it on a holiday made it seem even more exotic and tasty than it did when I ate it on an average Wednesday night. What made the night hard to bear was the fact that I couldn’t communicate at all with his mother because she couldn’t speak English and I could speak Spanish. Needless to say, there was a lot of translating going on over the loud Spanish music and very little coming together as a family in spirit as opposed to just physical proximity. What made me realize that he wasn’t planning to be around forever was when he answered a phone call and had to walk into the other room to take it. Yes I know, it was loud so this makes sense except, five minutes later when I went into the same room to get T’s bib he was saying “I love you too” and then hung up. His face when he turned around was something I will never forget; a mixture of “oh shit” and relief. Out of self-preservation I pretended like I didn’t hear a word of what he just said and went about the rest of the night in a state of numbness like I had never felt before. Until the last Thanksgiving that we would ever spend together.
At this point T was eight and her dad wanted to become more a part of her life since he had chosen to be, more times than not, an absentee parent. This is something I was whole heartedly onboard for. Who wouldn’t want their baby’s daddy in their child’s life? That being said, there was no illusion on my part that this was going to go well or that we would miraculously become best friends and so I packed up my little nugget and we headed to his cousin’s house one town over for a mix of Spanish and American fair.
True to his past behavior of being an absolute dickhead and thoughtless idiot, he did not disappoint when he walked into the house with another woman and expected T to just warm up to her and call her mommy! HA!!! As if!! Unfortunately, it broke T’s heart to see her dad for the first time in quite a while just for him to shove this stranger in her face. This new addition to his life also came as a big surprise for me because I was told he would be there alone for the evening to focus his attentions on T. Apparently this unannounced guest was also a surprise to his family which I did take some comfort in knowing but, at some point in the seventy-two hours since he had asked us to attend Thanksgiving dinner he found himself a girlfriend. Needless to say, T wanted to leave, so we did. That was the second to last time she would ever see her dad again. To date.
Baby daddy drama long gone I now move onto last Thanksgiving. This would be the second and last Thanksgiving that I would spend with my ex. His two children having gone to their mom’s for the holiday, he spent the day with me and my family eating an amazing dinner prepared by none other than… me! This was no ordinary Thanksgiving dinner, I went all out and made from scratch rolls, gourmet side dishes and a fancy pants turkey stuffed with citrus and herbs. It was so delicious and if you ignored the tension emanating off of my brother every time my ex said anything, then it was the perfect family dinner to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.
What makes me sad about that memory is not the knowledge that my brother hated my ex but, the hindsight that I have now about how incompatible we really were as a couple. Obviously we were happy at this point but after that night, it was a slow downhill progression filled with loads of animosity, bitter arguments over the lack of forward momentum in our relationship and us both trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. In fact, it got so bad that we kind of snowballed down the ski slope by the end and come St. Patrick’s day we were a non-existent blip on the radar.
These memories make me sad on several levels and for several reasons one being the fact that today, as I write about them, I am, once again, a Single-Pringle with zero prospects in sight destined to spend the next big holiday, Christmas, alone. Not “alone” in the sense that no one will be here because T and the rest of my family will be however, I mean “alone” as in single. Table for one. No body to share the magic of Christmas with in that intimate way that only two people who love one another can. On the other hand, these memories will always serve to remind me of the kinds of people and things I don’t want in mine or T’s life and, when I do finally have another Pringle to call my own we can fill my memory bank with awesome holiday memories to go with all the others that I currently have.
Tonight though… Tonight I am sad because my little nugget is working. So while Jasper and I snuggle up and watch Chip and JoJo, T is running her little ass around a retail store trying to fulfill all of the crazy Thanksgiving night shoppers demands for this and that. Until midnight. Fortunately, she was able to have dinner with her family before a two-hour cat nap and then heading to work for six but damn… I miss her tonight. Lets be real… I miss her all the time but, tonight it feels like another thread in the cord that tethers us together as mommy and baby was cut. There aren’t many of those threads left and as one by one they get cut, I feel the loss of my innocent, loveable little girl a little bit more. It is comforting to know that as a mom, I have been able to instill in her a solid work ethic and the tools to survive a night like this in the beginning stages of her working story.
Babies grow up and become teenagers who grow up and become adults. Adults who need to function as responsible, sane, productive and reasonable human beings so, while I am blue about my little girl working tonight, I can safely say that I am tickled pink that she is becoming an amazing young woman. Hug them tight and hold them close because all too soon they will be flying the coop and building a nest to call their own.
For now I say Happy Thanksgiving and stay safe!
Until next time…