Happy Mother’s Day!
Today the majority of us have been inundated with reminders both of mothers and motherhood. Many have had celebrations at their churches. Some have taken their mothers to lunch or have been taken to lunch by their children. Some have bought gifts to acknowledge and some have handcrafted greeting cards. Personally, I love any day that is dedicated to recognizing the selfless acts of everyday heroes. One day is not enough to acknowledge our wonderful mothers (whether they are biological, adoptive, spiritual, or simply those amazing women who have played the role for us when we needed them most) but I’m so glad we find time to set aside to remind them that they are appreciated.
As this blog is written with the single adult in mind, our Mother’s Day post would not be complete without an acknowledgement not only of mothers in general, but of single mothers specifically. While many women long to be mothers, I don’t know that many women – if any, honestly – would say “I had always planned on being a single mother. It was my choice.” We would like to say “thank you” to all those single moms who stepped up when your children needed you most, putting your own desires, dreams, and comforts on hold for the sake of others.
Raising a child is a difficult task in and of itself and this is definitely compounded when it seems like you’re doing it on your own. This is one of many reasons I am so grateful for Single Adult Ministry. It is a multi-faceted ministry that reaches out to single adults on a number of levels but one of its primary tenants is simply to remind us that we are not alone. For this reason, I thought the best people to address single moms today would be those who get where you are and understand the challenges, trials, and joys of those who must be both mother and father to their children, not just today but every day: other single moms.
I asked single parents around the country to share some of their experiences and, being the wonderful and selfless group they are, they took the time to write me some beautiful pearls of wisdom. I hope their words bless you today. To our single moms (and our single dads who also must play the role of mom for their kids), thank you for all you do!
1. Make Time for You!
As a single parent you need to find time for yourself. Doing the job of both a mother and father, along with balancing church and work and family, is a task in and of itself. Even if it’s just a half hour in the evening to read a book, daily “me” time is essential.
Also, make sure that you are not cutting yourself off from the rest of the world. Find someone you can trust to watch your kids, even if it’s only once every other month for a couple of hours so you can go out with friends or to a singles (non-church) event. (Kathleen Toenjes)
Take some time for yourself. Find another mom that would be interested in doing ‘play dates’ swaps with your kids. Enroll your kid in an activity that keeps them busy for one or two nights a week, so you can have some kid-free time. My son is involved with the local theater, and my kid-free evenings to run errands and relax are a God-send! (L.S.J.)
2. Manage Your Time
Daily routines are a life saver. Sometimes it seems to take more effort to make my son do his chores than it does to just do the tasks myself. Putting morning, after school, and bedtime daily routines in place keeps the stress and chaos in the house down, especially when we’re trying to get out the door to get to school on time. (L.S.J.)
3. Prepare Yourself Financially
Financially prepare for that child-triggered crisis. I had a friend tell me once that when his daughter was born, he put $500 away in an envelope for whatever expensive item she was probably going to accidentally break when she was older. He said that way, when it happens, he’s already prepared and he won’t even get mad about it. Kids also get sick, break their bones, and in my case, get their front tooth knocked out. Prepare yourself for it! (L.S.J.)
4. Acknowledge the Other Parent When Appropriate
Father’s Day is hard on my daughter because she never has her Dad at church to celebrate with and Mother’s Day is really hard on me. I feel so sad because my son lives with his Dad in another state and I have missed four Mother’s Days with him. My advice is to have the kids send the other parent a card to tell them how they love & miss them. (R.V.D.)
5. Keep Your Attitude Positive and Your Focus on God
You’re still a family and your family isn’t “defective.” Challenge anyone who wants to label you that way. Your children need to feel safe and proud of their family. That will only happen if you are proud of it.
Don’t give into the trap of self-pity. When I’m feeling the “life’s not fair” spirit, I give myself ten minutes to cry and eat a candy bar. Then I set the timer for an hour and have a prayer meeting. It does more good. (Alesha Noelle Leveritt)
Stay positive. Being a single mom is rough. Having a father figure is important, but it’s not everything. Be the best mom you can be, and you won’t need a father around to raise wonderful kids. Realize you can’t force your child’s father to be involved in their life, but always leave that door open. Despite your feelings towards them, he is still your child’s father, and you have to respect that. Be that solid rock in your child’s world, and the level of involvement their father has in their lives will ultimately be irrelevant. (L.S.J.)
Remember your children believe what you tell them. Give praise freely and don’t criticize. Tell them they are awesome and can accomplish anything in the world. (Tammie Logston Bass)
Make the Word of God a priority. Be honest regarding your emotions: show them how you work through them. Above all else leave no doubt in their minds where the family stands with God! THERE IS NO OPTION… WE HAVE TO MAKE HEAVEN! (Anonymous)
6. Embrace Friends and Family in Your Life
Plug into your extended family. You need them. Plug into an active, living church. If that requires a move, do it. Your kids are going to need the strength of the community of faith. Look at your situation honestly. If your church is too big/too small/too “whatever”, pray about finding a place where your family can SERVE. And grow. (Alesha Noelle Leveritt)
7. Be Real!
You don’t have to be ‘Super mom’ to still be a great mom. There are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. My son has had to pull jeans out of the dirty clothes a few times because we just didn’t have time to get his laundry done. I realize that would horrify some moms I know but no one noticed, no one cared, and he survived. My son has seen me break down in tears because I was having a rough day, and it’s okay, it teaches him empathy. My house is not always clean, but it’s okay because some nights I’d rather spend our time together having a Nerf gun war or going out for ice cream. (L.S.J.)
8. Do Your Best and Let God Handle the Rest
You will frequently be exhausted. Ask God for help. He has promised in His Word to be your helpmeet when you have no other. Embrace His help. (Alesha Noelle Leveritt)
I have recently been watching my daughter and grandson through new eyes. They’ve been living with me (again) going on three years but things are recently different because she received the Holy Ghost after twelve years away from God. I’ve struggled to have them here because of the chaos it brought; I felt many times like I just couldn’t take it any more, and have had to really pray things away from my home sometimes. It became a place where I showered, changed, and slept; I didn’t really live here.
When I was her age I was consumed with being the perfect mom, having a perfect house and perfect career….I stressed over so many things to the detriment of us both. Wish I had done that differently! I was also the same age she is when God brought me back to Him. We’re so different, yet so many things in our lives are playing out the same way. It’s no coincidence, I’m sure.
In the last twelve years I have experienced every feeling of fear, anger, frustration, depression, guilt, and failure that exists…I asked God many times what I did wrong, and reminded Him that the Word says to train up a child in the way he should go, and he would not depart…yet she went into unbelief and called herself agnostic. God had to remind me that I asked for wisdom and promised to do whatever was necessary to see her saved. I asked God for wisdom again and waited for direction. That was about three weeks before she prayed through. It was out of the blue! She gave no indication this was about to happen. You just never know what God is doing.
So I came home late one night last week to find my daughter had spent over an hour anointing every room, door and window and praying things out of our house, and covering it and us with His protection. She prayed over her son, and over my bed where I sleep since I wasn’t here. Both of them were bubbling over when I walked in.
The last six weeks has been worth all the struggle, all the frustration, all the tears and prayers, and all the chaos. It’s not a spiritual battle now. We’re finally headed in the same direction. So I guess my message is, do your best and let God do the rest. Yes it’s hard but it’s worth it. There’s still chaos at my house but it’s tempered with spiritual harmony. I think I can embrace that. (S.M.S.)
9. Treasure the Time You Have with Your Children
Let your kid be a kid. This is the time in their lives they should be carefree and irresponsible. Don’t burden them with adult problems they don’t need to know about, especially ones that are out of their control. (L.S.J.)
One thing that I wished I had done as a single parent is not stress so much on paying bills, surviving, etc. and spent more quality time enjoying my child while she was younger and at home. When you are so consumed with surviving and paying bills, you miss out on the day to day things that could have been enjoyed such as going for a walk in the park, doing things that don’t cost money, etc. (Anonymous)
I wish I would have realized that they are only small for a little while. Make lots of memories – the house will wait. Dirty hands and clothes are not the end of the world. Playing in the rain is fun and getting muddy is no biggy. Live every moment with your children like it’s your last. (Tammie Logston Bass)
I raised three children of my own and helped with three stepdaughters. I wish I would have realized that stains on the carpet or couch, dirty torn clothes, just didn’t matter as much as I thought they did. I would give anything as a single 50 year old woman to tell the 30 year old me to embrace the chaos…. because it ends way too soon. (Gwen Stringfield Lawton)
10. Remember who you are!
You are an amazing woman who has and will continue to triumph against all odds. You are the first line of defense for your children against the slings and arrows and attacks of life. You are a boo-boo kisser, an encourager, a warrior, a provider, a teacher, an example, a hero, and a reminder that love can beat any obstacle. Thank you for what you do but, more importantly, thank you for simply being who you are.