By the Thrive Leaders
Picture 1,000 computer tabs open in your mind, each needing attention. You are considering and trying to tackle them all simultaneously while the world is playing one-sided dodgeball with anvils. You are trying to dodge the anvils and tackle your tabs, all while doing it with a smile… usually.
We all deal with minds that race, to-do lists to be completed, and the song and dance of the car-rider line and lunch boxes. For a single mom the juggling is even harder; she is typically the only juggler. There is no back up, no spouse to call for help if she gets held up in traffic. Sick kid? She is the one to stay home, taking the hit on her paycheck — the only source of income for her home.
A single mom balances her home life, grocery shopping, the demands of her child’s school — don’t forget that it’s party week at school and oh! Johnny’s shoe broke at recess, and it is the only pair, so she trucks out to Target — in between school pick-up and dinner — to get new shoes, hopefully under her budget. Then homework, bath time, bed.
After the bedtime fight — which she may or may not have won — she is cleaning, working on her own classwork for school or a side job at home, washing dishes, doing laundry, and trying to get five minutes of peace to herself.
While she manages all this, she is still thinking about finances: the electric bill that has to be paid, how she will afford school pictures, will she have the money for rent this month? She is thinking about her children: Are they happy? Are they healthy? How are they doing in school? She sits down to finally email the teacher back and the enemy whispers, “You’re a failure… the other moms can be at school for school events.” She often wonders if she is good enough, equipped enough. She asks herself, “How can I possibly continue?” And Satan likes to grab her and whisper lies of worthlessness and convince her that who Jesus says she is can’t possibly be true.
So, what does this mean for those that aren’t single moms?
What role do you play, and how can you support single moms in your lives? In a word? Grace. The single mom you sit by at church needs grace. The single mom who works in the cubicle next to you needs grace. Your single-mom friend… needs grace. Understanding that, although a solution may seem easy to you, it may not be easy for her, because her situation is different. And her every decision snowballs into the next decision. From the outside you think, “Just pay off your credit card.” But for her that could mean draining what little savings she has, money that she has barely been able to save, that she may need for that day when she has to stay home with a sick kid.
Instead of offering your advice, offer yourself.
I’ll never forget my best friend calling me on her way home from vacation. She asked me what I was up to after work, and to my response of a laundry list of errands, she decided to take one of them off my plate. She knew it was a stretch for me to do errands after work, but my son was way overdue for a haircut, and it was the only time I could get it done. She grabbed both of my kids and ran my errand while I tackled another and had some down time for myself.
I am so grateful for moments like that, when there was help and understanding to make my day a bit easier. You can be that person for the single mom in your life, too, and that’s what she needs more than anything. Imagine your day without your spouse, and consider what you would need if that was your day, every day. Be a set of extra hands. Try and understand her difficulties without judgment.
And above all else? Show her grace.