This is a tough post for me to write. Mostly because it forces me to look at some things in myself that I would rather not look at.
- I am stubborn. I have gotten better by allowing God to work on me but I still am rather stubborn.
- I like to do things myself. Now in and of itself that is not a bad thing, but it can be when we refuse to ask for help when we truly need it.
Before my husband left, he always used to say that we were an island unto ourselves. Everything we did, we did together, and we did alone. Rarely did we ask for help from others or allow others into the little world we had created. I was used to handling a lot of the stuff around the house as he worked all day and I stayed home with the kids. I did the yard work, mowed the lawn, cleaned the house and cooked dinner. My husband did the laundry, cleaned up from dinner including doing all the dishes and usually handled bath routines for the boys. Everything worked pretty smoothly and on the rare occasion we were overwhelmed, we just dealt with it.
When my husband left, it was literally a week before I realized I had to do laundry! It wasn’t long before I became completely overwhelmed with trying to keep up with everything. But, being me, I refused to ask for help. To me, that was like letting him win. Letting him see that I couldn’t do it with out him and at that point, I wasn’t about to let that happen. I allowed a wall of pride to build up and hid it under the facade of being strong and showing everyone that I could do this. When people did ask me if I needed help, I couldn’t bring myself to say yes. Not only did I need to show I could do it, but I tried to keep doing everything he did as well as everything I did without any compromise.
The truth is that everyone needs help at some point in their life, and if that person is a single-mom, you can bet they need help!
Being a single-mom is tough and when you add to that the hurt, pain, loss, and loneliness that goes with having your spouse leave, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Now I have come a long way since those initial days of being overwhelmed, but I am far from able to do EVERYTHING on my own. I have become a bit better about asking for help and I have also allowed myself to just let some things go.
So now, I want to address 2 groups of people.
First to Single-Mom’s
I want you to know that you don’t have to do it all on your own. Ask for help when you need it and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about needing that help. Parenting was designed to be a 2 person job. Also, let go of what you can. If your laundry isn’t constantly kept up, that is ok. As long as everyone has something clean to wear, that is good enough. If you have to let the lawn go for a few extra days, it is not the end of the world. If you had a long day at work and you need to give the kids something fast for dinner, do it! It is ok. Find what works for you and go with it. Look to God for strength and wisdom, He will give you what you need.
To the friends and family of single-mom’s
Help! Many single-mom’s, especially new single-mom’s are hurting and may not ask for help. Offer the help. If she says she is ok, look deeper, you will probably notice that she really is silently screaming for help and just doesn’t know how to let you know that. Just because she appears to be strong and has it under control doesn’t mean that she isn’t drowning in private. Call, check in with her, let her know you are thinking of her. Offer something specific. Rather than just saying, ‘.. let me know if you need anything.’ let her know what you were thinking of doing. It is harder to say no to someone who says:
“I was thinking I could bring lunch over for you and the kids and help you get some yard work done.”
If you can’t physically help, send a gift card to a local pizza place so that she can just pick up dinner on her way home one night without having to worry about the cost. I remember a gentleman in my church who came up to me one day after service and slipped something into my hand when he shook it. When I looked he had given me $40 and said for me to take the kids out with it. I can not express what that meant to me. He just did it, he didn’t ask if I needed anything, he just knew that I did and helped.
God gives us the privilege of being his hands and feet. Widows and the fatherless were among those that we are called to look after. You may not look at single-mom’s as widows but many of them are single-mom’s because they have “lost” their husbands not to a physical death, but more a spiritual death. They are grieving and need our love and support. So together, let’s be the helpers that are needed and show these brave women and the children the love of Christ.