I have been a single mom. I know what it’s like to raise two kids on your own (for a few years anyway). I know the embarrassment from paying for groceries with food stamps, and how it feels to lose out on things you wanted because your children’s needs come first. I know the looks of disgust, the judgments through the grapevine, and the pity received from people you have never met. And I know what it feels like to miss out on your kids’ school events because you are stuck at work.
I also know what it’s like to be on the other end of the spectrum, being the kid (or teenager, in my case) WITH the single mom. I have heard the word “no” more than enough times and watched her sacrifice so much for my brother and myself. I learned from the best how to be a strong, independent woman. I learned about work ethic, respect, humility, and grace from that single mom. And yet, I still put her through hell, because at the time, even I did not understand what it all meant.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, we are quick to judge when we see a situation we are not familiar with. When a mom is struggling at the grocery store with little humans and a food stamps card, we automatically create this fictional story about how she got to this point. I can guarantee you that many of these women are much better off alone. And while yes, some do abuse the system, others desperately need the assistance and refuse to ask for help due to being too proud.
Some of these women have been through things you’d never believe and walked away, because deep down they found one last ounce of courage to run.
There are women out there who work multiple jobs so that their kids can have as normal of a life as possible. They are doing the work of two, sacrificing anything and everything they ever wanted for themselves. They do not have time to even consider dating, because the free time they do have is spent with those children. And the odds of finding a man who wants to come into a messy situation are not great. But for some women, being a single mother is a reality that they didn’t want or plan for, but are learning to accept and thrive with.
There are others who are still in the trenches. Their self-esteem is gone because some “man” thought that on his way out, he’d tear her down to shreds so she’d blame the situation on herself. There are some who have turned to partying, because making life’s problems go away for a few hours is the only solution they can find. Some lose the children altogether because this life is just too hard and they throw in the towel.
As fellow mothers, we are supposed to be here to lift one another in times of need.
It is not our job to judge, but to be there when they finally cave and ask for help. To be on the other end of the line when they call, finally ready to leave. To step up and lend a helping hand, when they are in a jam for a babysitter.
Being a single mother and having the stigma that goes along with it does not make the already stressful situation any better. There are good, strong mothers out there doing this job on their own. There are mothers living in riches and in rags, who love their children all the same and are just trying to do the best they can.
None of us is perfect, and our children are not asking for perfect mothers. I hope that the next time you see a mom with her kids, who is clearly doing it on her own (the empty left ring finger can sometimes give it away), maybe offer a smile or helping hand.
And to all of the single mamas out there, you’ve got this! Some days will be harder than others, and people’s unwanted opinions will always be present. But hold your head high and keep on keeping on. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.