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on being a single mom

A shame as dirty as the floor washed over me as I pulled the number from the dispenser. Babies wailed and mommas fidgeted. Numbers were called one-by-one. Brokenness filled the room. I couldn’t help but wonder about the circumstances that had left each person applying for government assistance. Abandoned families. Laid-off employees. Cancer patients. I prayed and reminded myself that God was in control over circumstances. Mine and theirs.

I fought the tears and resolved to maintain control. The moment would finally come when my number was called and she ushered us to her office. Right away, I could see that this social worker was not having a good day. She never looked up. Her tone was condescending and her heart cold. She fired questions at me, as if she was hoping to trap me. My situation was bleak and I needed the money, so I endured.

She had no patience, no understanding, and no tact.

On the form, I had checked married, but stated that he left. “That means you are separated, honey,” she jeered. I couldn’t find the voice to respond, so she continued. “You might as well face it. You are a single mom now.” It was the first time I would hear those words and it burned deep. The urge to choke her flooded over me, but I resolved not to come unglued. My heart withered in fear. I had no control over my life and the future was terrifying. I didn’t like it, but she was right. I was now a single mom.

Single mom.

For me, those words have always come with a wave of negativity.

I picture her living in a trailer, eating cans of beans from the church’s food bank and working while her babes sleep at night. She’s tired, mistreated, misunderstood, and often cries herself to sleep at night. Her heart is bitter and lonely and her responsibilites pile much higher than that sink of dirty dishes.

I grew up with this reality and I knew that it was the one thing that I never wanted to be. It was the one thing I feared the most. The one thing I worked the hardest to prevent. But it turns out that it’s not something I can control. Sweet friend…did you hear that? It’s not something you can control. Godly men fall off the deep end in an instant. Even pastors, deacons and missionary men. Families shatter and you find yourself sitting in the piles of destruction.

I’ve lived in that destruction for 2 years, 8 months and 2 days. Up until this very moment, I have never used the phrase “single mom.” Even when it was a matter of getting food for my children, I refused to allow it to define me. Yet, the reality is…I am a single mom. I care for 4 small children by myself. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t want this. It doesn’t matter that I begged him to stay. It doesn’t matter that I pray daily for God to restore our family. The reality is…he isn’t here and I do this thing alone.

I’m a single mom.

Declaring this “status” makes it hard to breathe. The fear of the unknown, the lack of financial resources, the emotional trauma and the judging eyes all carry great heartache. But for me, my greatest fear is the lack of acceptance. I fear that this will be the one thing that will keep me from being loved.

So often, people assume that single moms brought their depravity upon themselves. I know they do, because I’ve been one of those people. I’ve judged and pointed fingers. I’ve believed the lie that she could have been a better wife. I’ve watched her car pull into McDonald’s and passed judgement, never wondering how I could help with the mountain of responsibility that she never asked for. I’ve avoided friendships with single moms and I’ve offered “suggestions” as to their working status. I’ve even held the same critical views of myself.

Oh, how I wish I had known the pain, the utter depravity that a mom feels that can’t be comforted with piles of bills, laundry, and toys. Oh, how I wish that I had just once stopped to think about how badly she needed a friend or how desperate she was for a hug. Oh, how I wish that I had just stopped judging and tried to understand. But honestly, there is no way to understand or fathom what a single mom experiences. Until you’ve been there.

As it turns out, being a single mom is not a label, it’s a situation. And situations are what you make of them.

Single mom, it’s time we stop believing the lie that what other people think matters. NO ONE else can define us, but our Father. Right now, we can choose to believe what God says about us. There is no mold or stereotype to threaten us. EVEN if it was entirely your fault that he left, God’s love for you (and me) is scandalous. It’s never-ending.  All-consuming. Merciful and powerful. He chose us and adopted us as treasured daughters (Eph 1:4-8).

Perhaps you didn’t choose to be a single mom, but you can chose to bask in the love of our Savior, not allowing negativity to invade. We can claim the promise that He is in control and that His plan works all things for our good, even when others intend harm (Gen. 50:20). We can choose to believe that even in this circumstance God is working, refining our own depravity into a crown of beauty (Is. 63)

 

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Comments

  1. Amazing post, Kim!  We’ve all been guilty of judging the circumstances of others and being critical of their choices, even when we don’t know half the story.  Thank you for being so real, and for opening my eyes and my heart just a little wider to the inner thoughts and struggles of the many women who can relate to your situation. Praying for your family on a regular basis, all the while thanking God for how He is continuing to work in your life and ministry! Jenna

  2. Beautifully written Kim. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. I’m still praying for restoration.

  3. Keeshadoss says:

    Very encouraging – thank you for sharing!

  4. Aundrea Cherry says:

    Amazing Post, Kim!  Thank you for being so real.  I can see God in you through your writing and pray for you and your marriage.  Hugs to you!

  5. Oh, God bless you, girl! Yes, you are, always have been, and always will be, so very beautiful and precious in His sight! My husband was gone just for the weekend, and as I cared for my 4 little ones alone, I thought, “I don’t know HOW single moms do this!” It would break me! You are so strong. And very brave for sharing your heart here. I pray that God will break open doors of opportunity for you to accomplish in your life what only you uniquely can–that you will feel the embrace of love and acceptance and His life to the fullest. –I love the design changes you made here, just lovely!

    hissongtomeshalom.blogspot.com

  6. Amy Roller says:

    My heart goes out to you Kim.  Thank you SO much for this reminder that we too often tend to judge people, instead of reaching out to them to offer a hand.  This post, honestly, has changed me.  It’s not that I sit around judging single moms all the time, but I am totally guilty of ignorning people and walking away, consumed with all that’s in my head at the moment.  You are brave and beautiful, sharing your heart like this, and I truly thank you.  My thoughts now go to, “What can I do now?”  Can you speak to the types of things that would minister to you–babysitting your children, giving you a ride, bringing dinner by, helping you fix something, etc.  Or would offer of those things be annoying or condesending?  (I’m meaning these offerings from a person you know, a friend or aquaintence? SP?) I am thinking right now of a single mom I know with two little ones who seems to always be consumed with them.  I would like to help.  Not that you speak for all single moms, but any insight you could give would be enlightening.  AGAIN, thank you SO much for opening your heart to us.  It’s been a blessing. :)
    Amy R.

    • Hi Amy. Thanks for your sweet words and your question. I think that most people see a person who is hurting, but don’t really know how to offer help. I know this is true of me. I’m excited to tell you that I have a series starting NEXT WEEK that answers this question! Several of my blogging friends are writing from their own trials and offering ways to help. Thanks for stopping by today!

  7. Chandra Medina2010 says:

    Ive been a single mom almost 11 years. I’ve come a long way since then, and your post brought back memories from the very beginning that brought tears to my eyes, and hit home to some very present things too. Thank you for this, it really does give a sneak peek into the heart of us mothers doing the job of 2.

  8. Beautiful Post! I was raised by my mom and know the hardship she went through trying to raise me and my sisters by herself. I can’t imagine doing it on my own and do not take my husband for granted. I know I’m not immune to one day becoming a single parent. You are strong and beautiful! You are in my thoughts and prays that God will continue to grow you into am amazingly Godly mother. God bless!

  9. Amen!

  10. Marisa Loper says:

    this was very eye opening for me. i don’t know too many single moms (yet) and pray the Lord continues to pour his grace over my marriage to keep me from that but like you so eloquently state, we are not in control. He is. thank you for sharing so honestly and i am looking forward to your new series :)

  11. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now.  My husband left me almost two months ago to pursue a life that he thinks he missed out on.  He is currently already living with a nineteen year old woman and her kid.  we have two little girls together.  So this is me.  I’m a single mom.  His claims that he wants to be involved are unsupported by his actions as he has only seen them a few times since our separation.  I am relying on our Father to support us and am living with my parents while I find a job and get back on my feet.  It’s a devastating situation.  I never saw this coming.  But thank you for putting into words exactly how I’m feeling…

  12. Kim!  My heart aches for you and your sweet children.  I came across your blog through the Blog Hop and couldn’t leave.  You have such a beautiful way with words.  Thank you for being transparent and sharing with us.  I had a husband that left, though we were never able to have children.  That, in itself, was life changing and devastating.  I could not imagine adding children to that equation.  I, too, was judgmental about divorcees.  When a man cheated, my first thought was, “What did she do wrong?”  What a smack in the face when it happened to me.  :(  Your family is in my prayers.  I look forward to hearing more about your story and suggestions.

  13. Awesome post.  I know all too often how the Christian women think about single moms.  It’s almost like they feel like your single mom’ness is going to rub off on them or you’re gonna steal their husband.  I oftentimes feel treated better by unbelievers than Christians when it comes to me being a single mom.  Unbelievers seem to view single moms as something that just happens while Christians see it as you weren’t strong enough to prevent it.  

    • I just came across this, and I realize it’s a bit late (and it probably won’t get read, but I had to write). I think there’s a lack of understanding from both parties that creates the situation you describe. A friendly acquaintance once accused me of acting in the manner you describe following her divorce. She claimed, as she assumed to know my heart, that I was judging her and blaming her. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It was simply not knowing what to say which caused an increased quietness on my part, which she judged to be something otherwise. I offered my assistance and prayers but left it at that because we were not close friends. And I did pray often for her and her family since it was the only thing and the best thing I knew to do. Ultimately, though, I was falsely accused in the manner I’ve described and no amount of reasoning has been able to convince this misguided lady otherwise. I have heard more than once of a single-mom claiming to feel judged and blamed by Christians. While this may be true in some cases, I think a lot of times it is simply an awkwardness stemming from not knowing what to say or do to help (and not wanting to say the wrong thing and make things worse). This, I think, is often erroneously perceived by the emotionally fragile (understandably due to a tragic situation) and possibly self-conscious to be something much harsher than it is.

  14. Beautiful.

  15. Thanks, Kim, for sharing your story. The Lord is faithful – a Father to the fatherless, and a Husband to the widow. And we are modern day widows – that’s the only way I can describe what happened in my situation – he just died, spiritually. Turned his back on everything we based our marriage, family, and future on. My most painful nightmare come true. 

    However, that doesn’t stop the Lord from turing ashes to beauty in my heart and the lives of the kids. Our stories, even with their pain and shame, bring Him glory. It’s not easy (for me), but He is faithful – and that’s what matters. Rev. 12:11 “They overcame him (satan) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Amen and amen.

    So glad to get to know you, Kim. 

    • I hear this story everyday. We all think we are alone, yet it simply happens all the time. I’ve always felt like a widow. Describing it as a spiritual death is so very accurate. Thank you for your sweet words. 

  16. Kim, I know this was not easy for you to write. It is beautiful, and a true testimony to God’s amazing grace. Your story of His faithfulness is an inspiration & I’m so thankful you are sharing it in this way. You’re a true blessing, friend!

  17. O. M. G. THIS is the post I’ve avoided writing on my own blog the past 7 months. God Bless you, brave sister for sharing the words I haven’t been brave enough to admit.

  18. Almarimom says:

    Wow! this is awesome! I too am a single-divorced mom. Yesterday marked 2 yrs that my husband walked out on us (we have 2 small girls). I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the day. I so don’t want that day to be marked by something so terrible. So I just basked in God’s goodness and prayed a lot. I too have to say “thank you”. I think I was somewhat judgemental as well. My cousin is a single mom and has been for 16 yrs. She calls us “single moms” and I cringe. That’s where I am now and have been for 2 yrs. I too judged other single moms but didn’t really feel that way until I read this. Thanks for being so brave and honest. May God continue to bless you and your family. I’m praying for restoration for our families.  

  19. Coffeeandmemories says:

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in sharing your heart. I too am an abandoned single mom to three beautiful gifts. It has been very hard struggling to make ends meet, but the worst has been just what you described longing for a friend a hug, some reassurance, to be shown the love of Christ. It has been 4 years and 5 months he divorced us, but God will never abandon or forsake any one of us. I will be praying for you and your family.

  20. Janene Blakley says:

    Each time I see our Single Mom rank increase, I am saddened to the fact another marriage has not lasted the time.  The saddest part is men tend to walk away from their children as easily as their marriage.  Kids suffer and as Moms we try to do our best but the struggles seem to far outweigh the ease.  I keep telling my kids our lives are hard but we don’t suffer as much as Jesus did and perseverance will win the race.  Our identity is in Christ and not man.  Blessings for you as you walk this path.  God is good and has a plan. 

  21. This was a wonderful post. I was a single mom before meeting and marrying my wonderful husband. My heart just breaks reading the stories of the women who have shared here, I just can’t imagine being left by a husband or losing a husband and having to raise children alone and I remember the judgement that can come from members of the church who just don’t understand single moms as much as society does. Not all single moms are women who chose it or women who had a child outside of wedlock. Even when they are (as in my situation, I was 19 and in a bad relationship) they are new creations in Christ. Before my husband and I were married I just remember how uncomfortable some women made me in church because I was not married and I was a mom, I did not fit in at all. As soon as I was married things got a bit better with them, but I was still different because I wasn’t like them in the sense that I hadn’t saved myself for marriage and all my children were not from one man. Today, I am just thankful for the life I have and the father my children have because of Christ. He understands our unique situations and cares and through him we can have whole families and strength to raise children for Him whether we are single moms or not.

  22. A very honest post and exactly how I feel! I have been a single mom for a short time and I don’t have a choice in the matter (I wish I did!). It is the hardest season I have ever had. But thankfully even though I do not have any control, God does! I do have many times of loneliness, hurt, rejection, sadness, condemnation, and shame but along with those I am learning (God is teaching me) to rely on Him, that He is able to satisfy all my needs, He loves me and will take care of me, and He will bring good out of a situation I would never wish on anyone. My heart goes out to all of you single moms, you are loved and special!!

  23. I’ve suddenly become a single mama to four young children too. It was not something that I ever envisioned happening to me.
    The greatest thing that I am learning at this time is how to maintain righteousness and godliness for my children. I used to sign off too soon, tag-team with my husband so that I didn’t have to fight the inner battle where good prevailed. Now I don’t have that luxury. But I can see how I am sustained by the miracle of the Holy Spirit and buoyed by the face of God shining at me through many different people.
    I share this with you to encourage you to shine, to sparkle, to be the difference that brings the Kingdom of Heaven here to Earth.
    Love,
    Lauren.

  24. I’ve had many good friends that were/are single moms. You are strong! Thank you for sharing your heart and being vulnerable. It is good to know what goes through their heads and hearts.

  25. Thanks so much for this. It could not have come at a better time. I am 14 weeks pregnant and my ex of 3 years left me when. I told him the news. I have been wondering how to do this alone and just been plain scared cos for me it was also one of my worst nightmares. Its taken me this long to pluck up the courage to be honest with myself and embrace the gift and blessing of being given the opportunity to be a mother. So many women out there never ever can have their own children and its sad. Thanks again for the post. I know its not going to be easy BUT it will be a jouney worth travelling. God bless you! To all the single moms out there, keep on keeping on. Every cloud has a silver lining:-)

  26. I am a single mom to 8 children 8 and under. My husband moved out 2 years ago. I don’t believe in divorce so we are still married. He comes and goes as he pleases. It is so hard for me. I want to be a family with two parents so I try to love him regardless of how he treats us. Example he came to visit me and the kids two weeks ago and ended up staying the night. Next morning went to work ( has hardly worked throughout our marriage) and said he would come back “home” when he got off ( he says he will come over ect often and never shows and we don’t hear from him for 1 day – 3 weeks nothing no calls nothing then he just knocks on the door as if it was the same morning) so he did show up got off wrk at 6 ate dinner with us and did all the”normal” family stuff. Again morning came and same thing for one week this happened!! I was so happy the kids so happy he even seemed happy. Then one morning he had the day off and just flipped. Was so angry yelling at us all it was bad but i dealt with it cause I wanted what we had for a week to not end. But then he packed his bags and left! So same ol same ol for 2 years now officially. Before that he still lived here but would just disappear for days or weeks and come back home. Part of me wants to never answer the door and just move on but then the other part I am still his wife and i want so much to be a family! He does not support us financially nothing just this in and out way more out. In the past month he was only here tht week! no phone calls nothing! My heart was so broke after this last time. I guess I was playing pretend but it seemed so real tht maybe he would come back home come back to me and the kids.

  27. Your words are so honest and unmasked. It’s beautifully written. I know you think your story is probably not beautiful, but God is and will continue to use you in great ways to reach other single moms that can’t be reached by those that have never been in their situation. Know that you are such a blessing in so many ways to so many people you may never actually have the opportunity to meet. God bless!

  28. I’m a newly single mom. I am having a tuff time emotionally with what has happened but your email gives me hope and strength that I too can do this. Thank you.

  29. Thank you for writing this, I’m having a tough time dealing with my situation thus nobody notices since I’ so good at faking to be in control. Its like you are saying all the things I don’t have the will to say. This has strengthen my day.
    Dixania recently posted…I’m totally blogging about this later…My Profile

  30. Thank you for your blog. I’ve been a single parent for my son’s entire life. He will be turning four in a few weeks. It’s nice to know others are in the same boat, surviving. You definitely never plan to be a single parent, but thanks for reminding me that God’s in control. I’ve learned to make the best of it, and it’s going pretty well now :)

  31. Such a great post! I’ve been a single mama since pregnancy…officially now six years since she’s been born, but almost seven years on the journey since he left right after finding out I was pregnant. You communicate the depths of feeling so well and sometimes there are just no words for what happens to a heart and soul when facing its reality. I always wanted to be a mama, but not like this. Each year brings with it an element of strength and courage and acceptance, and the challenges come and go and evolve, but there is a lingering tension that never leaves. My greatest comfort has been The Lord who has strengthened me in ways I never knew were possible.

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope…and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…who through faith are shielded by God’s power. In this (we) greatly rejoice, though now for a little while (we) may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1Peter 3-6

    Happy to have found your blog. If you do not mind, I would like to share this on my FB page. (https://www.facebook.com/mysinglemomlife)
    Nikki recently posted…Ma’amMy Profile

  32. I absolutely love this post! Your blog and exactly what I needed for this tough season I am going through. Thank you so much for sharing!

  33. AMEN!! You are amazing!! :)

  34. Very well said. It hurts when you become a single mom. I was one for 6 years, with a special needs child to boot. It was rough, and many nights I cried for lack of sleep, strength, and not near enough hours in the day. I worked 3 part time jobs in nursing in order to have a flexible schedule and pay the bills. That is a place I hope to never go back to, with the trips to the social workers to fill out forms for assistance to bridge the gap during times I couldn’t work for my child’s illnesses (chronic), facing the pile of bills that solely laid on my shoulder, and no end in sight. I married since then, as did my son’s dad, and took on 2 more children with special needs, and even with all the stress of married life and special needs, I would take it over single parenthood anytime. I commend you for keeping on!
    Mrs. Abella recently posted…O Day of Rest and GladnessMy Profile

  35. Oh, gosh, what perfect timing! I’m so glad that I’ve found your blog. It seems QUITE inspiring and I’ve only read a little. Perhaps when I have more time later I’ll grab some tea and have some Mama Time, reading more? I’m a new single Mom. In fact, our first court date is TOMORROW…and my divorce, after 18 years of marriage (and 4 years of exclusive dating), may only be 30 days away. My husband walked out on us February 16, the day after our oldest son turned 14 and 3 days after our youngest son turned 8, to be with a married woman he chatted with on-line for just 7 weeks, but had never met. Convinced that she was the love of his life (even though she had no plans to leave HER husband and kids), he told me and our kids, “Mom and I are divorcing. I love someone else and I’m leaving” and then walked out. “The love of his life” lasted only a few hours (literally!), but the emotional scars he left on our kids are forever. Anyway, part of MY STORY. LOL I used to hide it, but I’m growing stronger every day; I CAN do this and do it well! I look forward to reading more of your writing! Thanks for being open about YOUR life and sharing it with others!

  36. Like you Kim and too many women leaving comments I share a very similar story. Thank you for sharing, it is so very difficult. Were it not for Christ being everything perfectly (faithful, true, devoted) I wouldn’t believe in love. I’ve grown a lot, this has molded me for the better thanks to Our Father in Heaven.

  37. Oh, you precious woman of God…. I am so sorry. My hear aches for you and your family. What a difficult thing! My best friend’s husband flipped a switch several years ago, and I can totally relate to your statement that “Godly men fall off the deep end in an instant. Even pastors, deacons and missionary men. Families shatter and you find yourself sitting in the piles of destruction.” Such heart ache! May the Lord continue to heal yours, and may He bring people in your path who can help with laundry, give you a little time to breathe and just listen and be a friend.

  38. Hello there, very nice blog you have here. I was searching Christian blogs, Christian Single Parent Blogs, etc. I came across your blog. It is very beautiful. I am a single father with custody of my child. Single parenting can be messy.
    Anywho, I wanted to wish you a Very Merry Christmas.
    Check out my Christian blog if you have some time at: http://www.courageouschristianfather.com
    Steve Patterson recently posted…The 12 Days of ChristmasMy Profile

  39. I just became a single Mom yesterday, although the reason I am a single mom is that I was doing it basically all myself anyway. He had internet and gaming addictions, no affection for me, was verbally and emotionally abusive to me and kids. I pushed for change, he gave a tiny bit, but after 20 years of trying to impress upon him that we needed him, I finally felt like we didn’t any more. He is reaping what he had sown, and I had sheilded him from the consequences of his actions for far too lang. So he moved 400 miles away. Yesterday. Glad to find your blog- I know I was forced into this position, but I still feel somewhat at fault. your words “God’s love for you (and me) is scandalous” are healing. thank you

  40. I am SO happy that I found your website. I don’t know what to call myself sometimes. My husband has been in prison almost 5 years and will be for many more. I have used the term single mom. The other day I said I was a Prison Widow. Both of those terms are not what I ever dreamed I would be. We have 9 children. I have a supremely supportive church who is committed to homeschooling so they have made a way for me to stay home with my children. I am incredibly blessed.
    I have a testimony to God’s faithfulness. I tithed last Sunday and someone handed me an envelope on Tuesday with 6 times what I gave! You cannot out-give God and you can absolutely trust Him!
    I am continually comforted by this verse:
    2Co 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

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