"What are you going to do for Christmas" My mother asks for the umpteenth time.
"I have no idea" I reply truthfully, for I really don't. I live a week at a time right now. I cannot plan, so much is beyond my control, or so it seems.
"Well you know you are welcome" She says soothingly. Yet it does not sooth.
For as long as I have had children I have tried to avoid being at home for Christmas Day. It is all to do with my Step Father, I do not wish to spend it with him, especially with my children. He drinks, he becomes inappropriate, I do not wish to be there.
For years I have beaten around the bush. I have never really said outright that I don't want to spend Christmas at home. I have used the children as an excuse. They need to be in their own home, I would say, as indeed they do.
The consequence of this is that Mum has always come to me for Christmas, leaving my Step Father at home, because even if asked, he would never come. Doing so would mean my mother would make him drive and then he couldn't drink.
However this means she comes alone on Christmas Eve and goes home to cook dinner with him at about 3pm on Christmas Day. It has worked, in the past, but I know it is not her ideal Christmas. She has always wanted to do the Whole Family Celebration in her home. Part of me has always wanted to point out that she made her bed therefore has to lie in it! But I have not.
I can't believe she thinks I would rather be in her house. Even though there is a very real possibility that Husband and I may be here together, which is unthinkable in it's self, even so I still have no wish to run to her house. And anyway, I can't take the children away from their father on Christmas Day, unless we have negotiated it. Which we have not, yet.
I grab the bull by the horns "We won't be with you Christmas Morning" I say, assertively "But you know you are still welcome here"
I know she won't come here, we have already discussed it. She avoids Husband at all costs. "I don't like being anywhere where there is an atmosphere" She states
"I have to put up with it all the time" I say bitterly.
I feel unsupported by her. Perhaps I am being unfair.
She looks disappointed, she has always seen her grandchildren on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning. I think about the alternative, I know I cannot do it. "Most Grandparents see their grandchildren in their own home some Christmases" She says petulantly.
I am reminded that we are, both of us, 'Only Children'.
I have to state my case "But what about Dad?" I say, I do call him that, funny really "He won't be able to cope with the children, there will be breakfast at a certain time, dinner at a certain time. We like to take the day as it comes, sometimes we're still in our pyjamas until lunchtime! I want to be able to relax" There, I've said it.
She is Hurt. I should make her feel better but I have no wish to. I feel selfish. Again. I know that if I do as she wants I will feel very, very lonely in her house on Christmas Day, it is all about self preservation, but I cannot say that, I cannot make her feel better. Sometimes I don't think she has any grasp of how I feel and what major stuff I need to deal with before I get to where I want to be; divorced and independent. Perhaps I am being too harsh?
When she has gone I ask the children if they want to spend Christmas with Granny, I thought that perhaps I should. "No" They chorus. At least I have done the right thing for them.