I’m a single mother. I have very little money — sometimes it’s a struggle just to pay the rent. Last year, my parents were going to be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in New York, and our whole family was going to gather. The celebration was scheduled for January, and I really wanted to be there with my two children (they were 10 and 12).
There was no way we were going to be able to pay for tickets to New York and have Christmas gifts too. No way. I’ve done a lot of thinking and working through my feelings about my parenting and about our financial situation in Listening Partnerships over the years, and I’ve been able to stop feeling like I’m a bad Mom if I don’t have extra money. I am a good mother!
So I sat down with my children, and told them about the gathering and who we would see there. I was excited about the trip, and I conveyed that to them. And I told them, with enthusiasm, that we were going, but it meant that we weren’t going to have presents at Christmas. We could give each other one gift each. It could cost no more than $5. That would be our rule.
They were totally fine with this. I couldn’t believe it. And guess what! This was the very best Christmas we have ever had. I wasn’t running around like crazy beforehand. After years of stressing about Christmas, this one was a relief! A big relief! I wasn’t stressing about money. I wasn’t feeling bad about the things I couldn’t afford for them. On Christmas Day, we opened our gifts — they were so thoughtful with what they got me and each other — and then we relaxed. We went to the park, played, and had a nice little dinner together. It was the best day! My kids were absolutely fine about it — not one complaint.
And we had a great time in New York!
– a mom in Berkeley, CA