xmas giftsWhen my ex-husband and I decided to have a child, I never in my wildest dreams would have ever imagined that just a few short years later our family would split up. This is certainly not what I had hoped for my son, my relationship, or my family. I imagined that we would always be together, raising our son by one another’s sides, sharing in the joys and pains of parenthood. I certainly did not envision holidays, vacations, and weeks at a time away from my child. Missing out on moments that I would give anything to have.

This coming Christmas will be my very first holiday apart from my son. The thought of it makes me sad, and as it gets closer I can feel the pain build in my heart. I know that he needs this time with his father to create memories and traditions, though that does not change the fact that I am heartbroken to have to miss out. I won’t get to see his face in the morning as he runs to his presents, wide eyed and full of joy that Santa has been in his house. I’ll miss the sound of his excited voice as he talks a mile a minute because he is overflowing with happiness. This will become a moment of my son’s childhood that I will never get back, and this simply makes me sad.

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I will often times hear people tell me that I am lucky to have a break and that I should enjoy my time to myself. That divorced parents have it easy because they get time off. I absolutely understand the intention behind what they are saying and I do feel grateful for moments in which I can focus on myself and fill up. Like any other parent, a couple days here and there away from your kids feels good. It’s a time to nurture yourself and regain your center, and become a better parent. It’s the extended times, the holidays, the special moments… those are the ones that are a challenge.

The thing is though, I did not become a mother to have a break and miss out on important experiences in my son’s life. I wanted to be there with him every step of the way. Spending all of his important moments with him. Soaking up each and every smile, laugh, and tear to be shed. I became a mother expecting a full time job, a job I had waited many years to finally be blessed with.

I don’t have any profound answers here or any brilliant wisdom to share. I don’t know how to make it any different or any better. The one thing I do know though as a mother, who does miss out on moments with her child, is that our children grow up fast. The time goes by more quickly than we dream possible and so much of it gets glossed over by our busy lives. We only get these moments with our kids once. They will only be the person they are in this very second right now and we cannot go back, rewind, or do-over.

Perhaps the gift I have been given through my divorce is the opportunity to truly appreciate and be conscious of the value of time with my son. Learning the lesson to never take a single moment for granted and certainly to never let a busy schedule come before him. Soak up every minute with your little ones and be grateful for the time you have with them. Divorced family or not, they are growing older as each day goes by and before we know it, our time with them will lessen. There is no later, there is no other time, the time is here and now.

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Jennifer Laurent is an author who writes about life, motherhood and optimism. You can connect with her at her site, and Facebook page

Jennifer’s book, Excerpts from the Heart of a Mom. was released in 2012. Read more and purchase here.