To all the single parents this Christmas, I see you. I don’t walk in your shoes, but I’m watching. And so are others, especially your children.

I don’t understand what you’re going through, but you do.

You know what it’s like to carry, deliver, and raise a child after your significant other walks away. You taste the pain of losing a spouse to cancer, a car crash, or an overdose. You experience first-hand what it’s like to co-parent during the holidays when you don’t want to look your former spouse in the eyes because it hurts too much. You know what it’s like to walk away from an abusive spouse to protect yourself and your kids.

You pull yourself together so you can pull it together for them, the little ones around your knees or the tall ones reaching your shoulders. It doesn’t go unnoticed.

You scrape and save. You work extra hours or shifts. Your back aches and your feet are sore.

You do it for them.

Memories catch you, and the past surfaces with every decoration. For them, you continue traditions.

You crave rest. You’d give anything to put up your feet for just a minute. To push that secret button and have the dishes in the sink disappear or wave a magic wand and find your children bathed and tucked into bed. Instead, you go to the game, recital, and concert—out of love for them.

You do what you can to be everything to everyone and wear all the hats.

Nurse. Chef. Chauffeur. Homework Coordinator. Bedtime Administrator. Master Shopper and Gift Wrapper. All of it for them.

Then you fall into bed exhausted, only to lie awake for hours as fears for the future rob you of sleep. Will I be able to pay the mortgage this month? What scars will my child carry into adulthood? Will this loneliness ever leave me alone?

After you finally fall asleep, a toddler slips into bed with you, seeking comfort only you are there to give. When you wake up, getting out of bed in the morning feels like climbing up a waterfall.

You answer their questions. You calm their anxious hearts. You put the Band-Aids on their hurts. You give all you can give. You pour out your time and flesh to keep your family afloat.

It’s not all hard. You get the smiles, the giggles, and the hugs. You experience a full life. And some days, you make it look easy. No one would guess your story.

I wish I could leave a surprise check in the mailbox or extra presents on the doorstep for your kids. As much as I’d like to give you that, I can’t. But what I have, I give you, and it’s this:

I see you. Others see you. Your family sees you. Most importantly, God sees you.

God sees every act of love, each choice to serve others, and every sacrifice you make. He sees it all.

Not only does God see you from a distance, but Christmas is about incarnation. It’s about the God who sees you and then enters your world.

I see you, and my heart goes out to you. But while I can only give you my words, God sees you and gives you Immanuel, God with us.

Jesus, this swaddled baby lying in a feeding trough, is Immanuel, God with us.

Jesus grew up to be a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He knows all about pain, suffering, and betrayal. Immanuel, God with us.

As you give yourself to others, especially your children, there’s One who gave Himself for you. Immanuel, God with us.

In the noise and the quietness of this season and all seasons, Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.

Jesus is yours to receive and unwrap this Christmas. Immanuel, God with us.

You are seen, and you aren’t alone. This gift is for you this Christmas. Immanuel, God with us.

Being a single mom can feel like an uphill battle. We love the encouragement offered in Strong Girl, Brave Girl. You can also read it here, on Kindle.

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Katie Faris

Katie Faris is married to Scott, and her greatest works in progress are their five children ages 2 to 13. She is the author of Loving My Children: Embracing Biblical Motherhood. You can read more of Katie’s words on her blog.