Shame kept me from sending single parent Christmas cards

Guest post by Emily Anna
Our Christmas card says more than "Merry Christmas."
Our Christmas card says more than “Merry Christmas.”

We have been a family for 11 Christmases, and we have never sent out a Christmas card… Until this year!

Every year I’ve been jealous of the cards my sisters send out (let’s be honest, I’m jealous of everything my sisters do). I’ve always wanted to send one out too, but we haven’t. This year we did. Finally.

Why over a decade of holiday seasons have come and gone without a Christmas card from us is complicated.

Actually it’s not! It’s because of shame; plain and simple.

I have always been the type of person that can get stuck in their head a lot. If I’m not careful I can get really stuck. The things that are especially sticky are the thoughts that aren’t even my own. They’re the thoughts about what other people might think. About me. About my family. Or my lack of a family. How others define a family. What others think it means to be a single parent. What others think it means to be a single woman. All those thoughts used to swirl around in my mind and cause so much unnecessary shame, resentment, and a whole host of other toxic feelings.

Maybe that’s what lead to feeling like I couldn’t send out single parent Christmas cards. After focusing on what others would think I was left feeling shame. I ended up feeling like I didn’t have a “right,” or we weren’t “enough of a family” to send one out. Like it was a feeling that we weren’t complete. Like somehow we were less of a family because there wasn’t a second parent, or even another child. Just me and her. Just. Only. I think the shame comes from me actually thinking and believing those thoughts. That is shameful.

The last few years I have really been working on letting that shit go. And although it was incredibly difficult for me to turn 30 (100% because of those toxic thoughts and feelings) I have noticed a big shift in my thinking since then…

I care less what others think. I’m more honest — with myself, and with other people. I don’t look to others as much to define me. Or to define my happiness.

I still have shitty thoughts creep in my mind and make me feel less than sometimes, but most days I feel happy with where I am and who I am. I feel so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing, kind-hearted person call me mom. I feel proud of the family I have created.

We aren’t a “just.” Or an “only.” We are a family — full and whole. And that makes me happy.

So yeah, a Christmas card can say more than just Merry Christmas. Ours does. Ours says we are a family.

Anyone else experience single parent Christmas card angst?

Comments on Shame kept me from sending single parent Christmas cards

  1. From another single parent with one kiddo – you are AWESOME just like you are. Yeah, getting over the toxic self-talk is hard. But, you can totally do it! You are NOT ALONE!

  2. Kinda sorta going through a version of this. I’m not married to my child’s father (planning it though–why do I always feel I have to point that out?) and we currently don’t live together for logistical reasons (there I go again). Do I do a Christmas card with the three of us? Or just me and my son. I even wondered if I should put a stocking up with his initials.

  3. You ARE a family! Don’t let what you think anyone else feels or thinks about you and your family stop you from celebrating your family! Families come in all different shapes, sizes and styles. Not one is any better or more valid than another.

    I have a few single parent friends who did cards, and they came out so beautifully! You can really feel the love and warmth they have for one another in the pictures they chose for their card.

  4. LOVE THIS!!! And big high-5’s for you on making an epic Christmas card 😀 I know all too well the getting stuck in your own head feeling, and though I don’t know you, am super proud of you for un-sticking yourself. You’ve a beautiful family, and I hope you had a fantastic Christmas!

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