I recently had lunch with a good friend, who happens to be a single mother. As we caught up and shared updates on our children, jobs, etc., I was once again struck at her resilience.
Indeed, I have met and gotten to know a hand full of single mothers over the years who are nothing short of amazing.
This particular friend was married for nearly 10 years before she got pregnant with her son. Instead of welcoming their unexpected bundle of joy, her husband decided he didn’t want to be married anymore and abruptly left.
Many women would have crumbled. I’m pretty sure I would have packed my bags and returned to my parents’ house. Not my friend.
Instead, she continued working, had the baby and fought her way through life. The whole time, she always looked for the silver lining and never gave in to a bitter way of thinking.
Things were not always easy. Her career required travel, and that meant finding child care at home, as well as on the road when it was possible for her to take her son along.
Long days of meetings and often weekends of playing catch-up with work and/or domestic duties, meant she also had to deal with something all working mothers are used to — guilt.
The guilt felt by single mothers is exponentially worse than guilt felt by working mothers who have a spouse to with who to share kid duties.
A single mom, especially one who doesn’t have any help (or involvement) from the father, truly has to do it all.
She worries, of course, about making up for the lack of a father, as well as being the best mom she can. Add to all of that, the financial stresses of being the sole provider for the family are extraordinary.
My friend excelled in her career, but eventually left that job, in part because she wanted to be home more for her son.
She went on to start several small businesses and is still a successful entrepreneur. In fact, she has been a role model for many, including yours truly.
Seeing her son, who is a college student with a fantastic grade-point average, makes me so proud of all of her efforts and to call her my friend.
I have another friend whose husband left her when her children were quite young. She was and is a close friend, and I remember her raw pain during that tumultuous time.
It was awful seeing her go through that painful divorce and then have to handle all of the confusion for the children. Did she give up? Not by a long shot.
Instead, she went back to school to finish her college degree and then earn a master’s. She has had an incredibly successful and fulfilling teaching career and has never looked back.
She is a natural as a teacher — her students love her and she loves them. I admire her so much.
Her children are wonderful young adults who appreciate their mom and all of the sacrifices she made for them over the years. In addition, she managed to forgive her ex-husband and have a great friendship. Both are amazing parents.
Another single mom I know lost her husband to cancer a few years ago. It was awful for her and their three children to see him suffer and ultimately lose his life, but it was truly inspirational to see their resilience.
I’m humbled just thinking about all they have been through and how well they’re doing. All of these women, and the countless others out there, really deserve recognition.
Chances are you know a single mother. Maybe someone you work with or know from church. That mom is probably often overwhelmed with her life and responsibilities.
And you know what? She probably really doesn’t want to ask for help. So what can you do? Why not offer her some.
Offer to babysit or take the kids on an outing. Maybe just slip her a gift card and tell her to treat herself to something special, such as a massage, manicure or hair appointment.
There’s another thing most of us “mom-types,” myself included, often forget. We take it for granted that hubby can fix the toilet, change the light bulbs on the ceiling fan or know what’s wrong with the water heater.
A single mom doesn’t have the luxury of filling out a “honey do” list. Perhaps some of you men can offer your talents when it comes to handyman services. I guarantee you will brighten her day.
I feel blessed to know these single moms. And when I am feeling whiny about something, I try to remember how much harder it would be to be going this alone.
I do pray these special women meet someone to share their lives with. They are truly amazing and are the epitome of strength and grace.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.