The lights are twinkling, the Santas are “ho ho ho”-ing, and Insta-perfect snapshots of Yuletide happiness flood by with each scroll. But there’s something about Christmastime that makes both the joys and disappointments of life resound more loudly than usual, and this year, my heart weighs heavily with the struggles I know lurk behind many of our Christmas smiles.
So I dedicate this post to the moms who are struggling.
To the mom who is overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by her expectations for this season. Overwhelmed by the continuous stream of needs and demands. Overwhelmed by the feeling that she is never quite enough. Overwhelmed by the diapers or the bills, the workload or the tantrums, the schedule or the heartache. To the mom who feels like she has reached the end of what she can give.
To the mom who feels alone. Who lives far from family, whether by distance or in spirit. Who longs for the support of a partner to share the struggle. Who feels the weight of every single decision each and every day. Who wonders what it would be like to be able to share the load, to have a hand to hold on this journey. To the mom who feels she is walking this road on her own.
To the mom who is missing someone. Who sees the stocking that should be hanging on the mantle, the name that is missing from her Christmas list. Who knows that Christmas will never again feel the way it once did. Who struggles to enjoy the Christmas that is and longs for the Christmas that should be. Who senses the joy of Christmas mixed with reminders of loss and unimaginable pain. To the mom who has had one too many goodbyes.
To the mom who is barely getting by. Who spends each month hoping to make the grocery bill stretch far enough, much less fill the Christmas wish list. Whose family is one more unexpected expense away from not making it. Who absorbs the onslaught of advertising and marketing describing the “perfect” Christmas and hopes her children will be happy with something much simpler. To the mom who knows it should be enough but wishes she could give more.
To the mom whose health is failing. Who juggles doctor appointments and prescription pick-ups between holiday potlucks and ornament exchanges. Who declines one more invitation because she knows she can’t make it through. Who cuddles her little one close and apologizes for another night at home when she’d give anything to be out “enjoying” the season. To the mom who is battling her own body every day.
To the mom who is mourning. The loss of a loved one. The loss of a dream. The loss of her identity. The heartbreak of disappointment. The news she didn’t want to receive. To the mom whose heart is burdened with a grief to heavy to share.
To the mom who is tired. Tired of the sleepless nights. Tired of the endless “to do” list. Tired of barely getting by. Tired of the silent pain. Tired of a life that is hardly what she expected.
Tired of the struggle.
I wish I could tell you that December 25 will dawn with a Christmas miracle to wash your worries away, but I can’t.
I CAN tell you that you’re not alone. That despite the Insta-stories and ad campaigns, the struggle of life continues for most of us in one way or another every day.
Even at Christmas.
But if I could tell you anything this season, dear mama, it would be this:
This Christmas is for you. Today. Right where you are.
This Christmas, just like all the ones before, is not restricted to the perfect few with lives untouched by struggle or pain.
It is a promise for those IN the struggle.
A promise of hope.
A promise that these words, which may sound so empty and stale this year, are real and living.
That these words are for you.
A promise that this world is full of struggles
(and here is the real miracle)
that is not the end of the story.
If I could hold your hand today, I would. If I could listen to your story, I would cry with you and rejoice with you and wrap my arms around you.
But all I can offer you today are these three words:
I pray that this year, this Christmas, they reach you in a deep and powerful way. That your heart is filled with strength to face the struggle before you. That “Christmas spirit” becomes more than just another cliche in a Hallmark movie title. That you feel renewed by the promise of the season and the unwritten possibilities that lie ahead in the new year.
That you have a chance to be still.
To rest a moment from the struggle.
To reflect, refresh yourself, and restore your own battered heart.
To prepare yourself for the battles ahead, knowing you are not alone.
To remember that this Christmas isn’t about the presents under the tree, or checking off the requirements on your social calendar, or giving your children some imagined version of a “perfect” Christmas.
It is about finding our hope in the most unlikely of places.
Merry Christmas, mama. May this one be more beautiful than you ever could have imagined.