I saw you as I left the dance studio the other day. You were in the turning lane going to the grocery store, and I noticed your car. The one with all of those crazy stickers the back window. Today though, I didn’t notice the stickers; no, what caught my attention was how you were sitting up, like you were really trying to see something in your rear view mirror. Traffic was stopped, so I know you weren’t looking to change lanes. No, what I saw was the expression on your face. You were talking to your daughter.
You must have just dropped your other daughter off at the studio and were taking the older one to the store. This errand is not something that most of us think of as special; we usually dread going to the grocery store — especially with our kids. You, on the other hand, seem to delight in this opportunity. And I can imagine why. This is your chance to spend individual time with each child; their opportunity to get mom to themselves. I watch you honor them individually as much as possible.
I want you to know that I see you. I see you doing your best, and your best is nothing short of amazing. You might not feel this way, but mama, you are ENOUGH. You are everything your girls need. You are everything mothers should strive to become. You are humble and honest, real and patient, brave and strong. You are doing the good work every single day.
More than 80 percent of single-parent households are headed by moms. I’m not even sure if you are aware of that number or if you even care; but there it is. What I do know is that you don’t hide behind it or use it as a crutch. No, you don’t have time for that. Your world is your reality and no statistic will ever change that.
I get the feeling that you sometimes put more pressure on yourself than moms in a two-parent household. You don’t have the luxury of excuses. The expectations placed on you as a single mom offer less room for error. I suspect there are many times when you are harder on yourself than moms with a partner. Moms like me.
On most days, I’m sure you work harder than I do. You are task-oriented, committed, caring, fearless, and you certainly hold it together better than I do, even when you think you don’t. You don’t make excuses for your mistakes and you can’t default to your partner. For that, you are stronger than you know.
I see the photos you share on Facebook; I know that your family is the center of your world. There may not be big piles of toys or snapshots of fancy vacations, but instead, there are smiles and lots of them. Love and joy. I see a sense of security that those girls have when they are with you.
What I notice the most, though, is that you love life — even when it’s weighing on you.
You are the one that comforts your kids when they are hurt; the one that takes them to the doctor on those early morning hours after no one has slept; you are the one that cleans up their wounds and bandages them, helps them with their homework and snuggles them at night. After they are tucked in, I often wonder who you turn to. You comfort and console them when they’re afraid, yet who do you confide in when you are feeling scared and unsure?
I’m sure there are times when you feel like no one notices how hard you are working, especially your children. What I can tell you is that they will reflect back on their childhood and the depth of gratitude for what you have done for them will be immeasurable.
I hope you always remember that childhood is not perfect. All kids, regardless of how many parents are in their household, face adversity. At times, you may struggle with the conversations that you need to have about the children’s stories and movies that seem to always have a mom and a dad in the picture. But I know that you will do it with kindness and grace.
Your girls understand the importance of gratitude. I see how they value what you give them. I watch you work hard to make sure they have everything they need. You take on extra jobs and trade work in order for them to have opportunities.
You have provided a home, a safe place to land, and open arms that are always available to them. They know no matter what that you love them, and in those moments when you feel at your wits end, I hope you can remind yourself that you are enough. How you are right now, is everything they need.
I know I will never understand what it is like to be in your world. Yes, we are mothers and yes, we are all trying to do the best we can, but I can’t help but think about your life and the path you walk on every single day.
Mother’s Day is coming up, and on May 8 we will honor all mothers everywhere — with Hallmark cards, with homemade crafts, with photo collages splashed across our Facebook feeds. But I wanted to take a moment to send a special note of gratitude to you directly, and all of the moms who are going it alone.
So here’s to all the single moms out there: Thank you for all that you do. I honor you today and every day. You are graceful, amazing, fearless, inspirational, and brave, whether you believe it or not. And I admire every bit of your strength.