Menu

Being a single mom over the holidays can be lonely—but there's still so much joy

But our lives are full of love, happiness and health. ?

Being a single mom over the holidays can be lonely—but there's still so much joy

I still vividly remember the Christmas mornings of my childhood. My three siblings and I would always be up by 4 a.m., but to avoid our parents' wrath we'd vibrate under the covers until the more acceptable hour of 7 a.m. rolled in.

Then, on the dot, we'd leap out of bed, launch down the stairs of our large family home and gasp at the glittering tree surrounded by dozens of multi-colored presents.

We'd creep around the boxes, guessing at the larger ones and hungrily dig through our stockings while mom and dad brewed coffee. Once they were appropriately caffeinated and could combat our excitement—we'd take turns opening gifts, marveling at what new toys, books and clothes had arrived overnight.

After presents, my dad would set about putting together the various "assembly-required" pieces and mom would make breakfast—platters of fluffy pancakes with bacon or waffles topped with whipped cream and strawberries.

I guess as an adult, I always pictured giving my children the same experience I had growing up—not just the big house adorned with garland and tinsel, not just the large tree we'd all cut down and decorated together, not just the presents and pancakes—but that magic of family too. A day of slowing down and remembering how lucky we were to have each other.

Since I've grown up and have gone through a divorce, my definition on a lot of things has had to change. My twin daughters and I don't have a family home but instead a two-bedroom basement suite, where one of the girls sleeps Harry Potter-style in a finished storage closet under the stairs. Our space is small and our Christmas tree fake, and both my counter space and budget are so limited that making that brilliant Christmas breakfast is going to be a challenge.

And most of all, my girls' dad won't be with us. He's wonderful, but he's spending the morning with his family so we don't confuse the children, which means they'll miss out on the way the holidays made my parents' love grow, how it would reach out and hold us all in its golden bubble. Instead, I'll have the kids for the morning, he'll have the kids for the evening, and in a way—I feel like we all lose out on something.

Some December days break my heart. This time of year families are everywhere and their excitement is inescapable—it's the mom and dad on either side of their child lining up for a picture with Santa, or taking a picture on one of those Polar Express train rides with hot chocolate. It's this beautiful caroling chaos—and sometimes it feels like my girls and I are on the outside of it, watching through a frosted window.

During the holidays I feel like I exist in this liminal space between happy families and happy childless couples—never sure if finding the same joy they have is possible or even acceptable to the masses. Christmas is a time where our hearts and homes are lit up to celebrate the happy glow of the season and as a single mom, I often don't know where the darkness of my grief fits within it.

I try my hardest to create the same magic other children get—with half the team and half the budget—solely carrying the burden of two parents on my shoulders. As the weeks draw closer, Christmas can feel like a reminder of my feelings of failure around not being able to provide what other children receive—an intact, unbroken family.

But recently, it occurred to me that perhaps my own sadness is entirely due to the fact that I'm expecting the holidays to look like what I once thought they should look like, rather than embracing the beauty in what they are.

Our home might be tiny and I might not be wealthy, but our lives are full of love, happiness and health. My kids are, despite the trauma of divorce, thriving and I am, too—against all odds, I've emerged from the darkness and have come out stronger and quite grateful. At the end of the day—we have a roof over our heads, food in our fridge and gifts under the tree.

We have been blessed with the beauty in the little things.

Instead of feeling sad about not having a house to adorn with lights, we go for magical evening walks and admire everyone else's. We won't spend any time this year worrying about keeping up with long gift lists or the status quo. And rather than trying to meet certain family traditions, we get to make our own. Like the way we baked a huge batch of gingerbread cookies last week and ate them hot from the oven, dripping with unset icing and sprinkles. We've got no one to impress and I'm still scraping glaze off the floor— but there is bliss in our free, unstructured joy.

And ultimately, the biggest reward this year is that I am exponentially more grateful for these holiday moments with my daughters. This Christmas, we've been given the gift of perspective. We're finding love in the limited and joy in our journey, and that could make this the best Christmas yet.

While I might be a divorced single mom this holiday, together my girls and I sure are dancing merrily in a new, old fashioned way—and if I'm being honest, I'd take that over picture-perfection any day.


You might also like:

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

11 products to help parents survive the 4-month sleep regression 😴

So you—and baby—can start getting more rest.

Ah, the 4-month sleep regression...unlike, say, your baby's first solid food or her first steps, the 4-month sleep regression isn't a milestone that many parents typically look forward to. Whether you're currently in the midst of the madness or just anticipating what might be ahead, odds are you have some questions—and some worries—about this much talked-about sleep (or lack thereof) phase.

But guess what, mama? The news is good! According to experts, sleep regressions aren't really a thing; they're more like transitions. And they're actually a good thing—they mean your baby is growing, changing, developing, + finding new ways to interact with the world around them.

Keep reading Show less
Shop