I am not a single mother.
But I am the daughter of a single mother.
The friend of a single mother.
The cousin of a single mother.
And so forth, and so on.
I sat with a friend over lunch who is now single parenting. Two children. Still young. And she’s in a hard job. She lives in a bad school district and is working around the clock to make ends meet so her very bright children can attend a modest private school.
She shared that her child’s teacher had told her she wasn’t worried about grades – only that her bright star needed more mommy time.
What do you say in the face of that? Even when it’s true, but you’re doing all you can to pay this month’s rent and you can’t afford to live in a better neighborhood and you don’t have any support from your family and you have a rough boss but you can’t risk the job?
When you feel like you’re frayed and frazzled and there’s no one to come home to that can relieve the pressure and the burden and no one there to share your load?
Oh beautiful momma. I am so sorry. I hate that this season is so hard. You are trying so hard. Your very best. You are giving everything you have down to the last little shred of energy. You pray for wellness so you don’t have to defend staying home with a kid to your supervisor. You pray your car will hold out another year without any major repairs.
I remember food stamps and hand me down 1973 Impalas and how once a month we went to eat out at the Pizza Inn because it was pay day. I remember hand me down clothes and someone at the church showing up with Thanksgiving dinner and some money for school clothes.
I don’t want to gloss over the ache. I don’t want to minimize the loneliness when you lay down. I don’t want to do anything to indicate that when you sit in your car and cry so your kids won’t hear, it’s anything short of the most breathtaking sacrifice.
If it helps you sleep even in the slightest bit, know that your kids are resilient. I remember all that stuff, but do you know what, it just makes me see what my mom sacrificed. It makes me work harder. It didn’t ruin me. It made me tougher.
And if there is any way I can say this without sounding trite, God used it. I understand things I would never have known if we hadn’t gone through it. The last minute visits to the electric company on pay day so we kept our lights on. The few dollars put into the car with a prayer it would be enough gas to last to the end of the week. It made me who I am. It made me see that God is still in all of the mess and chaos and struggle and suffering.
I am so very amazed at all that you do. If I could reach you and hug you and tell you that I will be praying specifically today, for there to be a small light in the midst of what feels so dark, then I would do just that. You are so strong even when you feel shattered. You are so brave even when you feel terrified. You are so beautiful even when you feel unloved.
Please hang in there. Know that we are in your corner rooting for you. Reach out. Don’t get too lonely or too overwhelmed or too embarrassed to stretch out a hand and ask for a connection to a new job or an assist with picking up a kid or a borrowed cowboy hat so you don’t have to buy a new one for the school parade. We love you so very much.