Mother’s Day ― I see and feel the buzz around me. Hallmark and retail stores are working overtime to push sales of cards and gifts. Signs and reminders are everywhere to celebrate Mom and shower her with love, gifts, and thanks. I appreciate the encouragement and “help” to acknowledge my mom, but I also have a burning desire to champion moms beyond my own.
This Mother’s Day, I acknowledge and honor single moms.
I see you. And I want others to as well.
I know the role of single mom is incredibly difficult. Single moms carry responsibilities designed to be shared. Some single moms carry a majority (if not all) of the responsibilities of raising children. Depending on the circumstances, the obstacles and challenges can push the bounds of human limitation. In fact, becoming a single mom can throw a woman into crisis.
No one aspires to become a single mom. As one of my single mom friends says, “I didn’t sign up for this.” Agreed. I was ushered into this “market” close to four years ago when my marriage of 16 years ended. The status change gave me an unexpected education and insight to this growing population. It’s crazy how many of us there are!
“Single moms, your courage, bravery, and strength is beautiful.”
My heart especially goes out to single moms that became single again because of his acting out (drugs, alcohol, addiction, sexual escapades, etc.). I know you tried your best to contain the problems until they broke through the dam and spilled out everywhere. It’s a humbling, shattering, disorienting, and traumatic experience. In the aftermath, there’s a search for answers, healing, and a new normal.
I encounter woman after woman who lives this experience. Somehow we find each other. I wish I could erect a wall of remembrance and fill it with names of all the dear single moms I know. Like soldiers, they have gone through battle, fighting valiantly for health, happiness, light, life, truth, safety, peace, and recovery for themselves and their children.
If you know a single mom, love on her. Be gentle with her. In fact, here are seven practical things you can do for her:
1. Ask about her story, listen, and be compassionate. Let her cry and be a shoulder to lean on. She’s been through a lot. She likely continues to face challenges with her ex, employment, kids, managing a household, etc. She needs to process, grieve, and gain strength from others.
2. Show her, by your actions, that you are there for her. Instead of saying, “call me if you need anything,” tell her you are bringing dinner over, coming to mow her yard, or helping with school drop-offs/pick-ups.
3. Do something for her children. When you love her children, you love her too. Consider offering regular homework help, tutoring, or mentoring. If she has sons, and you are male, adopt them in some way. Those boys need you. Single moms need men to fill in the gap when the ex-husband is not there.
4. Send her to the spa. Or better yet, a weekend retreat. Single moms need a reprieve and recovery time to refuel. If the ex doesn’t take his visitation and if her family isn’t there to help, she all the more needs others to provide this kind of support.
5. Fund some therapy. Single moms experience ongoing grief and loss. So do their children. Good therapy is expensive and many single moms can’t afford it. How amazing would it be to sponsor a single mom and her kids so they can attend family therapy for many months or even a year?
6. Do not judge her. She is doing the best she can. If you feel tempted to judge, I encourage you to get curious, listen, and be compassionate instead. Offer help instead of judgment. You really have no idea what she’s going through unless you live it or are there with her day in day out.
7. Help her establish her village people. Single moms need a village. If you live nearby and want her to call you when in need, let her know. She needs people who she can call at a moment’s notice for support and help to lift the burdens. Sometimes she needs to put her needs out there to a group and ask for help. She’s not going to do that unless she knows you want to be there for her in every way.
Single moms, your courage, bravery, and strength is beautiful. Truly, you amaze me. May others see your brilliance this Sunday and honor you in every way. Happy Mother’s Day.