This has been a long week. It's spring, and my husband is in his "busy season" of working insane hours in his landscaping business.
We have seen little of him.
This afternoon as I was eradicating ants from the floors for what feels like the umpteenth time in a day, I found myself getting a little...bitter. With a hefty dose of sorry-for-myself.
What a crazy week. You have done this parenting thing ALL BY YOURSELF this week. You are so drained, aren't you?? You really deserve a break.
Instantly, I thought of my friend Jennifer. And I felt really embarrassed of my complaining.
A few months ago Jennifer's world was rocked, and now she is The Parent in her home. Oh, she gets the occasional "break" once a month or so. But mostly, my "super hard stressful crazy all-by-myself week" is her reality. Her Every Day.
Every day, she reads the bedtime story.
Every day, she does the dishes.
Every day, she dries the tears.
Every day, she disciplines.
She weeds the garden and fixes the car and changes all the lightbulbs and hushes them in church. Alone.
That is the reality for single moms.
I honestly do not think most of us give this enough thought, of the sheer exhaustion and overwhelm and burdens and worries and loneliness that is Every Day as a single mom. If I think of it long enough, it nearly drives me to tears.
Enough of this hard talk, though. We can help. We can be His hands and feet. Here are three very practical ways to help a single mom. Let's not just feel bad, no? Let's do this.
- Help by involving their family with your family, especially on the weekends and holidays. My friend shared with my that Sundays are particularly hard, because Sundays are family days. Every else's family is happy and together and doing something, while their home often aches with the loss. Consider asking their family to join them on an event.
- Help by doing stuff around the home.
- Help by loving on their kids. Let them come over, wander in, chat with you. Don't be afraid to ask how they're doing, either.
- Don't say this to a single mom. Instead, say, "You're doing something great. It must be really hard."
- And finally, cliche as it sounds - be a friend. Help ease the loneliness.
Awhile ago I was visiting Jennifer after the kids had gone to bed. I was helping her pack lunches and throw the dinner dishes in the dishwasher. I kept thinking, "She does this all by herself, all the time."
She's a strong and reflective friend, and we are real together. So I timidly asked her, "What's the hardest thing about it? How can I help the most?"
I was guessing the answer. It had to be taking three kids to get groceries, every time. Or maybe all the lunches she had to pack. Or the dinners she had to make.
I will never forget her answer.
"Probably the loneliness. At night...when they're in bed...I want someone to talk to."
Do you have a single mom friend in your life? If you don't know what she needs - consider asking her!