December and what it means for us..

December is a magical time of year- for starters there's pretty lights everywhere. On top of that there's the smell of real Christmas trees in the air and gingerbread lattes grace our coffee shops. It's great and there's so much I love about it, but for me, it can be a bit of a roller-coaster, for it symbolises a lot more than the obvious festivities.

For me, December is a time when I can't help but reflect on times gone by. I'm sure that most single parents will agree that the run up to Christmas can be somewhat bittersweet, and, at times, even lonely. I'd say that on the whole I'm comfortable being a single parent, and that on a day to day basis I'm not sad at all. But during the time of year when everyone's focus is family and loved ones, it can be hard not to think about what could've been if things had panned out differently. It's the time of year when being alone becomes more apparent. It's a reminder of your broken family. A reminder that for us, things are slightly different.

As much as I try to focus on the magic of Christmas and what is sure to be an incredibly exciting time for my son, I still catch myself feeling a little disappointed at times and I still find myself dreading the big day to some extent. It's not even just Christmas day, actually the whole of December is full of significant dates & memories of mine. And Facebook just seems to love reminding me.

I love the 'On This Day' feature on Facebook, most of the time: it's a hilarious reminder of how awful I looked back in 2010, it's brilliant for throwbacks of teenage years and it's lovely for looking at photographs I'd forgotten even existed. But, occasionally, I'm met with a photograph or memory that I wasn't quite ready to face. Like the other day, when I was reunited with a photograph of 'Jolly Jumper day 2012.'

It was hard to look at, not because of the hideous Christmas jumper and bad hair-do I was sporting, but because of the other person in that photograph; the man stood next to me, wrapped in tinsel, with his arm around me. That man is my child's father. And that photograph was taken during the first and last Christmas we ever spent knowing each other. It's been 4 years since that photo was taken, and to be honest I had forgotten the evidence had even existed- it was taken in a hurry at work, an awkward "give each other a cuddle and say cheese" moment- and it's the only photograph I have of us together. Thinking back to that day, as we stood together in our garish jumpers, I could've never imagined the drastic changes my life would face a year on from then. When I posed for that picture, I never knew what that picture would mean to me years later. I never knew that I'd be looking back on that photograph and wondering why the father to my child;my work friend; my jolly jumper buddy, turned his back on us. I never foresaw that I'd be looking back on that image, with a million questions unanswered, wishing I could jump back into the photo and ask the very man himself. At the time, it was just another dodgy Christmas photo and just another "you've been tagged in a photo" on Facebook. Little did I know, that by the following year, I'd be holding this mans baby. Never did I imagine that the man with his arm around me, the one I thought I knew so well, would have left town and blocked all contact from me.

I remember that jolly jumper day like it was yesterday. I'd only just started my new job in banking, in fact my first day at the job was on this exact day, four whole years ago. I was nervous and excited all at once, but I never knew how significant that job would become. I never knew how much that one job would change my life, or what a pivotal point in my life it would end up being.

I remember getting a call back after having the interview, informing me that I'd been offered a position in the company. I was over the moon but I remember the dilemma I faced as, that very same day, I'd been offered a promotion at the job I was already in at the time. I knew that it was a gamble to leave the job I was at; I had great friends there, privileges I knew I wouldn't get elsewhere, and I was comfortable with what I was doing. I knew that if I took the job in banking and hated it, I'd have really kicked myself. But, something told me that it was time for a new path- I needed a new challenge and it seemed like a risk worth taking. My gut told me to embrace change, and so I did. But I wasn't to know that by accepting the job, I was accepting a new path in life too-  a journey into single motherhood.

So on the 16th December 2012,  I entered the world of banking, and on that day, I met someone who was about to change my entire future forever- I met the father of my child. The rest is history.

Almost exactly a year later, I became a mum. On Friday 13th December 2013 at ten past five in the evening, my little boy was born into my life. Of course, this day will always be the most special day of my life, for I became a mother for the very first time- my world changed, and so did I. That day defined my future and shaped me into the person I am today. That day I met my best buddy and the person I love most in all the world.

Every year, when I celebrate my little boys birthday, I think back to that winter's day in 2013 when I finally got to meet my baby. The baby I'd been waiting for, rather impatiently. The baby I'd already been through so much with. I think about his birth and the magical moment he was placed on my chest at only a few seconds old. I remember falling in love with him, I remember being clueless and terrified about changing his nappy by myself. I remember taking him home in his snowsuit, I remember all the messages, flowers,cards and gifts from friends and family. But I also remember his fathers absence. I remember the fact that on that day when I became a mum, I instantly became a single mum. During those last weeks of pregnancy, in the back of my mind, I'd imagined his father showing up at the hospital unannounced once he heard the news, but he never did. I arrived at the hospital as a single pregnant lady, and I left as a single parent, alone with my child. The memories of that day will never leave me, it truly was the best day of my life - one I wish I could re-live over and over again. Though each year, as we celebrate that special day. I can't help thinking that it's another birthday that his father has missed; another year of new milestones he wasn't there to witness; another year he will never get back with his son. Another birthday party with 50% of his "family" nowhere to be seen. Another card which never came.

Christmas day is much the same. Each Christmas is another Christmas without that third person and without that family unit. I can't tell you how many times recently I've heard "we're just spending Christmas at home as a family this year." I can't lie, it makes me feel a little envious sometimes. As much as I love spending Christmas with my parents, sisters, nieces and nephews, it'd be nice to experience a Christmas at home as "our own little family." It'd be nice to be a family of three and to feel as though our family is complete. I'd like my son to have had two parents to wake up and jump on at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning when he's realised that Santa's been. I'd like my son to have a father to spoil him at Christmas and build new train sets with. I'd like to take my son Christmas shopping and help him choose a gift for his daddy. I'd like to be able to buy a card which reads "to the world's best dad" and let my son scribble inside it. I'd like to not feel like a tag along to other families festive celebrations. I'd like to go abroad at Christmas, as a family. I'd like to cook for my family and moan at my husband for not helping. I'd like to watch my son unwrap his stocking at the end of our bed. I'd like to visit in-laws on Boxing day and watch my sons face light up as he's spoilt rotten by two sets of grandparents and not just one. I'd like to walk off our family dinner with a family stroll along the seafront. I'd like to start family traditions of our own at Christmas. I'd like to not be the single mum at Christmas. I'd like a family of my own. A conventional one.

And as we reach the end of December, New Years Eve rolls around and a new year approaches, it's final: another year has passed and my son's father still hasn't changed his mind. Another year gone and my child is still fatherless. A new year begins and the man I once knew becomes even more of a distant memory than he was the year before. 2017 is approaching fast and there's still no sign of him. The memories of Christmas 2012 and Jolly jumper day become even more faded.

 Another year ahead, just the two of us.