Christmas and a new year still childless

Another year is ending. Time to look at where we have been and where we are going. I’m going to repeat some of my words from last year because they still apply. I’ll just change the date. If we didn’t do it in 2016, 2017 offers another chance.

Let’s make 2017 the year we don’t waste a minute with what ifs, the year we live each precious moment consciously and with gratitude for the gifts we have right now, whether it be a person, a pet, a job, a home, or coffee and donuts.

I’m excited about a new year. I hope you are, too. I ask two things of you all in 2017. First, if you have been dithering for years about the whole baby-partner thing, resolve it this coming year. Talk about it, pray about, think about it, make a decision and move on. Might you change your mind later? Of course. But for now, stop torturing yourself. Either accept your situation or make the leap to a new one.

Second, tell us what happened. We get so many comments here from people who are in crisis, who don’t know what to do, who are considering leaving their partners, who feel like they can’t bear their grief, but we rarely hear the rest of the story. Please, if you have commented before, send us a follow-up. We want to know how things turned out. If you would like, I can offer you the whole blog space to tell your story.

That’s what I said last year. Of course saying and doing are two different things. I also promised myself that this Christmas I would not get depressed, I would not get myself worked up over not getting presents, I would not weep over the family I don’t have. Well, I’ll try again in 2017. I spent most of Christmas feeling ridiculously sorry for myself. There were some good reasons: the pellet stove that heats my house died on Dec. 22 and is still sitting there like a cold lump of metal, awaiting parts; my financial situation is not great; my aunt sent fruitcake when I was hoping for a real present, and my brother’s present got lost in the mail; as choir director, I had to sing the Christmas Day Mass alone because my singers were off with their kids and grandkids; and I got a flat tire on Christmas Day. Dead husband, disowned by the stepkids, far from my birth family celebrating together in California. I stared at my pitiful little fake tree and sobbed. Poor me.

But with a little perspective, I can see that I spent most of the weekend with friends at church or at their home, I got some nice gifts from my church buddies (and a boatload of chocolate), my Christmas tree is cute, and I’m better off than a lot of people I know. I do not have cancer. I have a good house, plenty of food, steady income, work I love, and a fabulous dog who adores me. I also have all of you.

I can see that I need to work a little harder on bringing people into my life and including them in mine. I tend to be a workaholic hermit, but that’s not healthy. When people have spouses, children and grandchildren, they have a built-in family and community with which to share their lives. But when we’re on our own, we need to build our own communities or get used to the solitude.

Having children is no guarantee of Christmas cheer anyway. My closest friend’s kids were not available for the holidays and one didn’t send a card or gift and was not answering his phone. My physical therapist who just moved here from Utah was on her own because she’s divorced and her kids were with their dad. She said she valued having time to herself, which doesn’t happen very often. Another friend was snowed in with his dog, couldn’t get to his family.

You make the best of what you’ve got. And if you have to cry a little bit, that’s okay.

So how did you make out this Christmas? And what are your plans for the new year? Let’s talk.



12 thoughts on “Christmas and a new year still childless

  1. I was listening to a podcast today about women’s health and one of the things that resonated with me was how it is just as important to acknowledge our feelings when things aren’t great and not brush them aside with “it could be worse” as it is to express gratitude in our lives. Sometimes just acknowledging that something in your life in that moment sucks is just what you need. I have a friend who has always been my “go to” for my difficult times in life and rather than giving me advice she says “that must really suck and I don’t know what else to say” and you know what? That’s all I need and want to hear sometimes. I don’t want a temporary band-aid fix. I just want recognition of my pain and then together, knowing I have someone by my side who gets it, we can move on.
    I thought of this friend a lot this Christmas. A few weeks ago, she put it out there and said that this time of year must be really hard on me being around all the Christmas stuff which is so obviously directed at kids. She essentially verbalised what I’d been thinking and feeling but was too sad/embarrassed/scared to say out loud myself. So this Christmas I decided to lean into that feeling, that Christmas was going to feel awful because I didn’t have a child of my own to do all the fun stuff with, because I always get the token candle or chocolate gift to make up for the fact that everyone else gets family or kids gifts and I get neither, because I am so obsessive about getting the right gifts for people and get frustrated with everyone else for putting little to no effort in return and because I make an effort to send a hand-written Christmas card to all my friend’s kids (from the day they are born), despite it being the busiest time of year for me in my business, and yet not one of them reciprocates.
    I leaned into that knowledge and you know what, it didn’t FEEL as bad. Instead, I decided to try and do a few little festive things and just enjoy them for myself. It seemed to help. So I went and looked at the Christmas shop windows, but I ignored all the kids around me. I decorated my house but did it in my adult non-childproof way. I went to Mass and sang the carols I wanted to sing, and I didn’t get into big conversations with other people’s children about Santa because there was nothing in it for me. I still had those few moments where the heartstrings were tugged and I felt suffocated from not having a toddler to share it with, but I kept the focus on me and my little piece of the Christmas world and did my darnedest to let the rest of it go. And for me, this year, it worked. I am now entering the dreaded end of year/new year which I seem to have had a lot of anxiety over ever since I was a teenager and will do my best to take the same attitude with me to these next few days.

    And you know what, Sue, your Christmas had moments that really sucked. Like that flat tyre was all you needed, especially when you withheld the commitment to be “the choir” for your church, so karma should definitely have been on your side! But I hope now you can move on and find something that brings a smile to your face and perhaps with some space, you can look back at the Christmas that wasn’t that great and have a bit of a chuckle. Here’s to a better 2017 !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Laura. Well said. I am feeling much better about things this week. I can smile at my troubles. And you know what, it felt kind of good when I let myself weep and wail. I had to let it out. Congratulations on doing Christmas your way. I am hopeful for 2017.


  2. Hugs to you, Sue! Sounds like you felt a little bit of everything over the holidays.

    This quote from you resonates with me,

    “I can see that I need to work a little harder on bringing people into my life and including them in mine. I tend to be a workaholic hermit, but that’s not healthy. ”

    I’m finally understanding that the sum of my life is all my choices. Choosing work instead of interesting outings. Choosing fast food instead of a more sensible quick alternative. Choosing to bow down to friends with children instead of seeking out more balanced relationships. Choosing to ignore the stains on my carpet instead of making the calls to get quotes on new flooring (or even renting a damn carpet shampooer).

    Is it any wonder that I face 2017 feeling old, frumpy, lumpy and tip-toeing across my disgusting carpet? I shouldn’t be surprised to have received zero New Year’s Eve invites. Most of my family and friends are mingling with others with children or doing nothing. I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m worn out, tired out and only longing for a bag of Doritos and Netflix on NYE.

    Next year will be different. I’m not sure how yet, but it will be different. Or maybe I’ll regress and better resemble the person I was at one time, the person who once sought out fun activities and fun people. The person who would never have let a coating of pet hair stay on the carpet, let alone live with stains. A person in the last blog entry discussed her Martha Stewart tendencies. That used to be me. Searching for unique, special and orderly. Not anymore. I just stopped caring at some point.

    It might sound like I’m depressed, but I’m not. The last couple of days, I’ve read bits and pieces of helpful advice and I feel good. I’m excited. I’m sick of being sad. I know that 2017 will be a game changer.

    Best wishes to you, Sue, to find a meaningful relationship that adds to your life in a significant way. Single people are strong. You are strong! And your words here (whether they are positive or raw) matter greatly to a person like myself. Blessings to you in 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anon S, You’re right. I did feel a little bit of everything. And we have some of the same issues, including the carpet. Mine is disgusting, too. But we can make choices. We just have to do it. And we are both strong. I’m so glad my words speak to you and that you are here to speak to me. All the best in 2017.


    • Worn out, tired and longing for Doritos and Netflix sounds exactly how I feel all the time. I did have three people over on New Year’s Eve, my last three childless friends. It wasn’t really much fun. I kinda got the feeling that we were together more because of a lack of anywhere else to go than a genuine desire to see each other, or maybe that’s just how I felt and I was projecting. I found myself really anxious to just get the night over with and go back to watching TV alone. I think I need some new friends who can help bring me out of my several year long slump, people who are enjoying life so they can teach me how to do it again. I agree that I need to make different choices in order to get that. I just wish I knew where to start.


  3. I know I’m lucky. I have a partner and wonderful animals – dogs, donkeys, alpacas and hens ( all baby substitutes !!!) I gave up trying for kids eight years ago when, after four years of IVF, two miscarriages, one natural pregnancy and another miscarriage, it all felt too much, plus I was 42 and getting old.
    We fostered for six years and finished this summer. Sometimes it made not having my own kids even harder, how they had been treated, giving them back and knowing I didn’t want them all the time.
    So this is my first Xmas with no kiddies and knowing at nearly 49 that there never will be. I felt sad and a little lost, although I have lots of pals and a fulfilling life. My parents are both dead and I’m not close to my only sibling, so I felt very different from others I know with 5, 6, 10 around the Xmas dinner table.
    I know I’m luckier than many, but the hurt and loss never leaves me and feels a lot worse at Xmas. Accepting that is key I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katy, thank you for sharing this. I agree that sometimes we have to accept that we are going to hurt around the holidays. I guess we have to feel it and move on. I hope the days get easier for you as we move into the new year.


  4. Thank you for your article.

    I’m 48. I’ve been single for eight years. Christmas was excruciating. I had pictured such a different life for myself. A partner, children, a community. Yet what has happened is depression and isolation.

    I’m grateful for a few close friends and a great therapist. This year I’m aiming to become more connected. And I have resolved to go to an intentional community in India from early December to early January next year. To focus on what’s real and to be without the media-heavy images of a happy family unit at Christmas. Never again.


  5. Holidays are always a tough time for me but especially this year. My husband and I usually take a trip to the Keys every other year and went this past October. I didn’t know at the time that I was newly pregnant and took two tests when we got back that were negative before Thanksgiving. Come to find out, I had a miscarriage in November. Needless to say I wasn’t feeling up to being around family, everyone’s children, or babysitting my 3-year-old nephew I typically help watch. My husband and I aren’t on the same page when it comes to when to having children as it is, and this hasn’t made me want a baby less now that I had what I’ve wanted but didn’t know that I had it. I’ve thrown myself into work to try to keep myself up and busy and avoid the grief, as opposed to lying around on my couch with my dogs. I will be 31 this summer and while I am not old I am not in my twenties anymore and know what I want. I just want it with a man who isn’t ready yet. Hopefully 2017 will be a better year. We shall see.


  6. Sue, I feel for you and I wish you a happy new year. Christmas is tough for me because I am also childless by marriage and had a birth family that was physically abusive. This year I spent Christmas with friends, and it made a big difference. I hope you too can take enjoyment from your time with friends and church community. Your blog is inspiring and courageous. Thank you so much for sharing.


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