I spent many years as a single parent to two children. When I got married again ten and a half years ago one of the first things my new husband said to me was, “How did you do it?! How did you handle everything alone?!” The truth is I wasn’t quite sure how to answer because I myself wasn’t sure how I did it, aside from the pure grace of God, that is. My husband said he felt bad that he’d never stopped to think about how hard life was for all the single moms. I’m sure most people don’t often think about it – but I know that we all should…
I can honestly say that the burden single moms carry is heavier than anyone who hasn’t been one could possibly ever imagine. And when a single mom is also the sole financial support for her children it is a million times heavier still. I personally experienced what it’s like to carry that responsibility alone, and it was a scarier burden then I could have ever conceived of. And being a mom who had no college degree to stand on made it that much more terrifying.
It’s impossible to describe the amount of fear, the worry, and the stress of trying to earn a living to support your kids with no one else around to be a safety net if you fail. It is terrifying and exhausting – physically, mentally, and emotionally. But as a single mom you don’t have the luxury of being able to be too tired, or too scared…
Being a single parent takes moving past your own fears in order to provide financially for your children. It takes stepping up to the plate and putting yourself out there for jobs you feel are way beyond your ability just so you can earn enough money to pay the bills – you’ve got to put a roof over their heads, provide gas and electricity and water, provide a warm bed for them to sleep in, provide clothes on their backs, provide food for their bellies, provide medical and dental care, provide transportation, provide them with an education, and all those other expenses that come with raising children (…and that’s not even addressing the legal fees of a divorce, or the funeral costs of a death, or the counseling needed following either…).
Being a single mom takes going without adequate sleep, and many nights going without any sleep at all, just to make sure you finish your work assignments (so you don’t get fired from your paying job), you get gas in the car (so you can get everyone where they need to be the next day even though you haven’t quite figured out how you’re going to drive anyone anywhere when you’re supposed to be at work all day), you go to the store to get at least something to eat and toilet paper (most everything else pretty much becomes a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘have to have’), you get the kids fed (turning to a drive through or frozen Totino’s pizzas far more than you’d care to admit), you help them with homework (that often times seems so hard you wonder how you ever passed the third grade yourself), you help your kids say their prayers and then tuck them in bed (trying each time not to start bawling as they pray), you do at least some of the laundry (folding is no longer an option as just having something without food stuck to it is considered a win), you wash at least a couple of dishes (just enough to have something clean to serve your kids breakfast on the next morning), you kneel down to say your own prayers (there’s no holding back the tears during this one), and then you climb in bed alone and stare at the ceiling realizing that tomorrow you are going to have to do it all again…alone…
Being single mom takes going and sitting alone at school plays and band concerts and parent teacher conferences. It takes sitting in the church pew with just you and your kids feeling the absence of a spouse among all the other families. It takes sitting at the dinner table without a spouse to sit across from you. It takes picking out and wrapping Christmas presents all by yourself. It takes putting on a brave face every single day so your kids don’t see or know how sad and lonely and afraid you actually are….
What single mom’s do for their children goes so far beyond just providing financially…it’s having to move past their fears in order to provide, its endless hours of working their guts out, its countless sleepless nights, and its fighting past the unbearable loneliness of not having a spouse to shoulder life’s burdens with….but when single moms are able to provide for their kids financially it certainly helps relieve a big chunk of their stress.
I started this blog by saying that most people don’t often think about how hard the struggle is for single moms, but we all should – we should because those single moms are everything to the children they are raising and they could use our help. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference in their lives – it can be as small as a smile, or helping load groceries, or delivering a meal, or babysitting a few hours, or it can be as big as providing them with flexible work opportunities or contributing toward a college scholarship just for single moms (you can do this by donating to www.stellahoaks.org ) to allow them to complete their education.
It all helps. Do what you can. You have no idea how much your help will mean to those single moms, and even more so, what it will mean to their children.
With much love,
~Amy Rees Anderson