It’s Mother’s Day here in the U.S., a day set aside to acknowledge the contributions of mothers. My kids are calling and coming by, and taking me out for meals. My husband is telling me how much he appreciates me. It’s lovely, and I’m feeling tremendously loved and supported.
For some reason, I find myself remembering when my life wasn’t this easy, all the years I was a single parent. And so today, I’m sending out a salute to all of you who are living through the challenges of being single moms, or single dads, raising your kids all alone. There’s just no harder job.
Raising kids is a huge responsibility. Anybody with any sensitivity at all is constantly second guessing herself. Am I supposed to let this baby cry, when it’s breaking my heart? And what kind of person would want to just yell, “Be quiet, already!” What do I do about a toddler who bites? Why is my son getting into fights? Should I let my daughter walk out the door in those jeans?
Most single parents live their lives on overwhelm, and for many of them, there is also great financial stress. They’re in charge of paying all the bills, helping with the homework, kissing all the boo-boos and giving the advice, making all the big and small decisions. And when the day is over, there is no one waiting to nurture them. Finding time and energy for a social life is an uphill trek.
Parenting has rewards, of course, and that’s also true for single parenting. In fact, single parents and their children are often very close, and kids learn to pitch in and help in practical ways. Growing up in a single-parent home is not ideal, particularly if there is strife between the parents, but I have noticed that these kids develop good coping skills and insight into the needs of others.
When I was single, my support came from my friends and my sisters, who were always there to listen, even if they couldn’t really understand. My daughter is a single mom, and I know she depends on her friends and family. If there are any single parents in your circle, please take some time to get to know them. Lend an ear, and when you can, practical support. They are doing a big, big job.
And for all of you who are single parents, you’re in my thoughts and prayers today. Enjoy every minute of this experience, because kids grow up fast. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s a bedrock truth. One day, before you know it, this job will be done. And when they are adults looking back over their lives, your children will honor and appreciate the sacrifices you have made.
Are you a single parent, or is there someone close to you who is? I’d love to hear your story.