The holiday season is here- the most wonderful time of the year for many. But for countless single moms, it is the most challenging time of the year.
I love Christmas.
I love giving. I love helping. I love the decorations, the music, the merriment, the movies (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”) the parties, the traditions (a chocolate a day, every day for a month? Yes, please!) And despite all of that love, the holidays, as a single mom, especially in the early years, were extremely hard.
While raising my daughter alone, I was determined to ensure she was never lacking in any way. I wanted her to feel that she had everything children from two parent families had, especially at Christmas. So, I stood in all of the long lines (this was before Amazon!) to purchase that impossible to find popular gift, baked cookies despite my poor baking skills, and tried to be in too many places at one time for the entire month of December. Every. Single. Year. But the truth of our circumstance seemed even more glaring at Christmas… I was not two parents, I was one.
I wanted so much for her to have “everything” that one Christmas I flew from California to Florida, where her (very absent) father lived, and deposited her at his front door. I met his girlfriend, toured his home, then invited him to build a relationship with his daughter, thinking that was the very best Christmas gift I could give her. Then, I spent Christmas Eve alone in a hotel room, so she could wake up at her father’s home on Christmas morning.
I remember exactly how it felt. It felt lonely.
For so many single moms, the holidays are a struggle. If you have a participating co-parent, you probably face this kind of loneliness far more often than I did. Custody arrangements requiring sharing of holidays, and for some reason, the arrangement never quite feels equitable. Or perhaps you struggle to make ends meet every month. With the burden of housing and childcare expenses (and everything else!) solely on you, there’s no wonder you have no room to purchase gifts.
As a single parent, the responsibility is ENTIRELY on you every single day. The responsibility to nurture, provide for, teach, love and lead your children is all yours. Add holiday responsibilities of shopping, wrapping, decorating and spreading cheer can be completely overwhelming. Of course you feel stressed, like there’s just “not enough”: not enough time, money or enough of you to get everything done without being so exhausted you miss it all.
This is your reminder that you are enough, and you deserve to enjoy the holiday season too. So, treat yourself with kindness. Express your limitations. Be creative with gifting. Choose a few awesome activities to celebrate the season and be FULLY present for them, but most of all remember that you have a CHOICE.
Tara Taylor is the Founder of Single Mom Strong, a nonprofit organization for the empowerment for the empowerment of single mothers and their children. Single Mom Strong works to create happy holidays for single mothers who could use a little help through their annual Holiday Adopt-a-Family program. Learn how you can contribute at singlemomstrong.org