The flour is almost gone, and I’m weary of pancakes.
Single-parent families are struggling in this economy just like our married friends. We will not tell you how bad it is, but this article is intended to give the Body a glimpse of what it is like in our homes. Please do not judge. We are up against odds that are often insurmountable. If we work inside or outside the home, there is never enough time, money, or energy to do what we need to do. Frequently our bills are late or do not get paid at all. We pray for our provisions and realize we are totally dependent upon God.
Single moms can be encouraged in the following ways. If it is practical, have the single mother bring her trash to your house and put her trash out with yours on trash day. This is feasible if both families recycle. It helps the environment and the single mother’s budget. Provide free child care as you are able. Have her over for a girl’s night out. Eat fun foods, paint your nails, and watch a movie together. Invite a single-parent family over for dinner.
Help with car repairs. The longest I have gone with a broken vehicle has been ten months. On one of the many times my car needed repairs, my family and I were in route to the church we attended at that time. We walked across the street and ran into our pastor’s wife. She knew our situation and yet she smiled, waved, and drove around us in her empty station wagon on her way to church. We arrived an hour later. I will never forget it. Gas is also rationed in our homes. Currently, my car needs a major repair, and I have parked it in the driveway. I walk everywhere, including eight miles round-trip to church each Sunday morning. In the winter that entails hikes in six or more inches of snow, icy streets, and sidewalks.
Our children might make choices that you will not understand. If the other parent tells them an activity is acceptable and the child does that activity or habit, please understand that we do not often agree. The power of a parent is very strong in a child’s life for good or less than satisfactory. Many times the most beneficial thing to do as an observer is to pray for the situation and encourage the family as you are able. We can do without unsolicited advice.
A bag of food is helpful. One of my neighbors works at a food bank and has dropped off an occasional box if the organization has extra foodstuff. God bless her. She has no idea how tight money has been this winter. When it is this bad, I ration my portions or do not eat at all. Between my personal food rationing and being forced to walk everywhere, I have lost weight, but I would not have chosen hunger as the means to that end. Single moms feed their kids first. If there is not enough food and the children ask, the mom will reply that she is fasting or will eat later. Later might be the next day or in several days. We will go hungry and see to it our children eat nutritious meals.
If we do not attend church potlucks, frequently it is because we have no food to share. Please do not judge us for that.
We enjoy your pretty clothes, but please do not make us feel bad that ours are not as lovely. I’m grateful for a gal in North Dakota. She mails clothing that she is tired of to my friend, who in turn doles them out to her friends. She loves tans and greens. Not my colors, yet I’m appreciative. In church I pretend I’m cold and wear my long coat over my outfit so folks will not see my tired or threadbare clothing. When I apply for jobs, the hiring managers see the same outfits, and I get a similar reaction from the managers as I do the parishioners in the pew and no jobs come my way.
Employment is scarce for us in this economy. We work whatever jobs we can find, operate home businesses, stretch our budgets beyond the breaking point and yet face our utilities, and phones being turned off and the threat of losing our homes. My utilities and phone will be turned off in a few days. I’m not alone. Another momma’s utilities and water will be turned off this week too. Over at SHM I list the links to my sisters-in-the-Lord’s blogs. They tell of hunger, no water, no plumbing, and mortgages in limbo. Is there not a big-hearted plumber in Christendom who can go to one of our fellow single momma’s and fix her pipes so she does not have to use her shovel under the cover of darkness to bury waste? Think about that the next time you flush. No single mother should have to face homelessness, and yet we do. I have been homeless, and it is no picnic.
We start businesses to pay our bills with dignity and stay off of government aid. Yet those businesses go months without a single sale. Why bother to put forth the effort? Sometimes we wonder that, too. If we do not place anything in our shops, it is because we have nothing to work with or because we are discouraged with no sales.
We also do not like to tell you what our needs are. We have learned over the years that it is better to do without than face the censure of God’s kids. Would you tell the nicely dressed lady who drives a new SUV and sits in front of you at church that the flour is almost gone, and you are tired of being hungry? Of course you wouldn’t. Would you tell anyone at church that you walk eight miles in six inches of snow to come to Sunday services? I learned a long time ago that it is best to keep quiet because folks in the Body judge and demean. Some tell us they will pray for us as they go out to eat. It is just not worth it. Most single mothers keep quiet because of the criticism. Our trials do not go away. I wish I was the only mother who did not share her needs. I have yet to find a single mother who was not judged harshly because of the financial burden she bears with little funds to work with. It also makes no difference whether she works inside or outside the home or if her children are homeschooled or in traditional school. In my experience it has been the same for most of us.
I appreciate Gleaning the Harvest. They are doing something about the challenge single mother’s face. It is depressing to see the last two months of donations. For some of the ladies, donations for the two months have been enough to buy several gallons of gas. The gals have received a fraction of what they need and will be criticized by believers when the water is turned off. It is hard for them to pay basic bills without jobs or donations at GTH. Businesses do not stay open without continuous customers.
Over the last eighteen years, I have become a toughened single momma and know how to survive hunger, homelessness, and a host of other problems. In fact, I’ve written a book about that. Somehow the Lord will fix my leaky roof, cut the tall dead tree in my yard, and keep the utilities on. Yes, I think I have figured out a way to pay the light bill. I’m not worried about myself. But I am anxious about my ladies over at SHM and the dear gals at GTH. They have minor children to tend to. They need our help. They are my friends and sisters-in-Christ. They have the faith that will move mountains and are trusting in the Lord as Provider. There are single mothers everywhere, and we need to reach out to them with an encouraging word and perhaps a sack of flour.
[Editor’s Note: This is a sobering and gut-wrenching post to publish. James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” Do we truly take this to heart? It is easy to say, “There’s so much poverty; what can I possibly do?” But all of us can do something. Start in your home church. Look around your neighborhood. Are there widows, single moms, hurting people? Then Christ commands us to reach out to them and help them. All of us can do something if we are just willing to try. It doesn’t have to be a thousand dollars or a new car–just taking over a box of food or bringing a meal or helping with home repair. These are small steps that mean so much. Let’s put our money where our mouth is when it comes to living the gospel. The world is watching.]