According to a recent article in the New York Times, “41 percent of births in the United States occur outside marriage, up sharply from 17 percent three decades ago.” Research further suggests, these moms experience higher rates of poverty and depression. That’s a staggering number of women with children, minus a husband, out there trying to make it on their own.
Single moms impress me. They work twice as hard with half the kudos. It’s tough to be two parents rolled in one. Sadly, I believe they’re overlooked in our communities and churches and judged too harshly by a lot of us. They’re unsung heroes, if you ask me.
God created a family unit to function at its most blessed and best with both a father and a mother—but this isn’t always how it is. When I see or hear of a successful child in a home influenced by a single mom, I’m overwhelmingly proud. Why do I feel so passionately about the plight of the single mom?
Because I’ve been a single mom.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I teach Sunday school class, I love to go around the room and ask the kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Over the years, hundreds of children have giggled their way to an answer.
“I want to be a fireman!”
“I want to be a teacher!”
“I want to be a movie star!”
“I want to be an Army man!”
“I want to bake cupcakes!”
I was caught off guard one morning when a little boy’s hand shot up, “I want to be Tim Tebow when I grow up!”
I pinched my lips together to keep from laughing at how adorable that was, “Well, son, I think that one might be taken. But, God can do anything.”
I love to see the sparkle of hope in a child’s eyes as they think for a moment about what their future might hold. I’ve asked this question hundreds and hundreds of times. Yet, there is one response I’ve never heard spoken.
“I want to be a single mom when I grow up.”
Happily Never After
My wedding was beautiful. I thought my marriage would last forever. At twenty years old, I had a lot to learn about sharing my life with someone. After seven years, instead of growing closer, selfishness and unforgiveness ripped my marriage apart.
Neither of us were Christians. Today, I believe in miracles. I know God can breathe life into dead things. Unfortunately, I didn’t know it then.
When I left my husband, I made a gargantuan mistake. I thought life would be easier without him. In the beginning that was true. Peace in the home was a welcome gift. It was nice having macaroni and cheese for dinner and not arguing anymore—except, that’s where the “better” part ended. Being sole bread winner and parent was a burden I’d never expected. I cried myself to sleep many a night. Shame became my constant companion.
Yet, each time my Grandma saw me she’d slip a twenty dollar bill into my coat pocket. “Buy the kids some diapers, Joey.” She’d whisper. Those tiny acts of kindness meant the world to me.
Like I said before, no one says they want to be a single parent when they grow up. Fast forward almost twenty years, I’m not the same person I was back then. Jesus made my life new. Hope replaced despair. Peace replaced chaos. Faith replaced fear. Joy replaced heartache. And, have I mentioned I’m married to an AHHMAZING man? Seventeen years!
What YOU Can Do
Years have passed but I still can identify myself with women surviving alone and raising children. I believe we all struggle over being judgmental about a few situations, but for me “single mom” will never be one of them.
This week do something. Ask God to show you where the single moms are in your community. Then reach out to a mom who is parenting alone. Pray for that single mom. Pray for her children. Drop a card in the mail for her. Leave a bag of groceries on her doorstep. Do you want to raise great kids? Then let your kids see you being great.
Enjoy your Saturday morning vanilla latte with Joanne. A weekly resource of amazing links to mom-stuff around the web. If you’re one of those adorable-younger-blog-savvy-moms who take artsy-fartsy pictures of your feet you’ll want to connect with her on Bloglovin & Feedly, too.