Living Life

Jesus, Me, and the Kitchen Table

On Single moms

on July 2, 2014

I used to say that I had a lot in common with a single mom.  That was because i’m the only breadwinner for the family and the only one who can drive.  So anytime me, the kids, or my husband had to go to the doctor, I had to take off ork to take them.  However, I was way wrong about my assumption.  I had never really known a single mom, just kind of knew, or thought I knew what it was kind of like.  But now that I am best friends with  a single mom, I have learned a whole new appreciation for single moms in the world.  

There are many reasons why and how women find themselves in the role of being a single mom.  Sometimes it is by their own doing and sometimes not.  Sometimes people have babies before getting married.  Other times divorce is a factor.  Or the husband dies. And of course sometimes women are raped.  Whatever the reason or cause, it is not a good lifestyle to have to lead.  It is so hard in so many ways. There are all kinds of struggles, emotional and financial, are the primary ones, not to mention physical exhaustion at times. 

Just imagine having 3 children or more… I know one mom who has 5 kids  Just the physical acts of getting five or three kids dressed, fed, and out of the door in the mornings or anytime you need to go somewhere is no simple task.  Now couple that with one or more kids who have either a behavior problem or a disability and you have a recipe for chaos.  If one of them gets sick, you have to take off work.  But there already isn’t enough money to make ends meet.  So when you have to take off work, and you are paid hourly, with little to no paid leave, that just makes matters much worse.  But when mom gets sick it’s a whole other story sometimes…. especially if she is uninsured.  In my friend’s case, there is not enough money to go to a doctor.  No money for prescriptions either.  What does she do?  She toughs it out.  Yeah a lot of people in that situation would just run to the local ER every time she gets sick. But if you know you can’t pay the bill, and you have a good conscious, then that is not your first option. 

Try living several days, up to a week at a time without a dollar to your name.  In this situation no one can get sick, nothing can break, there can be no extra expenses unexpectedly, and you have to make it on whatever food is in the house.  There is no stop at the Sonic or McDonalds for an afternoon treat.  Actually that is pretty much a all-time rule anyway.  Most of us would fall back on a loan or a credit card.  But at least one of the single moms I know, knows better than to go into debt and have to pay all of that back plus her regular bills.  “Hey mom, we are out of butter and I need some for my toast.”  And you have to tell your child,”oh well, I’m so sorry honey.  We don’t get paid for another four days, and we have NO money.  Not even a couple of dollars!”  

What happens when the bi-weekly check was a few dollars shy of covering the rent?  You pay all that you have to the landlord just to be told there is a $50 late fee.  So now when you get your next check which is supposed to cover everything else for the remainder of the month, you have to take $50 out for the late fee? 

You might be thinking they have child suppot.  Well, not always. Sometimes the dads are dead beats and in jail.  They aren’t working, so they have no money to pay any child support with, or they use their money to hire some fancy lawyer who gets the case postponed or gets them out of it a while longer…. What about all the government help?  Well that does not always go very far and not everyone gets the same amonnt.  I’ve learned that when you are on food stamps, for example, they aren’t always enough for several kids who have good appetites.  And not everything is covered. They periodically review your income.  And sometimes even just getting a few extra hours of work can result in a big reduction of the benefits.  

Perhaps  they brought it on themselves?  Well yes, in some cases.  Sometimes as young and unsaved, some ladies do things they will regret later.  And then later in life they get saved and are truly remorseful for their actions, but naturally love their children and try to be a great mom.   Unfortunately, the consequences of those actions are still wreaking havoc on their lives.  As the church, or even as a good friend, we should try to see the need and help out.  

How can we help?  We can offer to mow their yard, buy a sack of groceries, give a department store gift card when it is time for school to start.  School supplies and clothes for one child these days is enough to break most peoples’ banks, but most of us have enough to help out at least a little bit.  Just think about it… even a couple pairs of decent new jeans, a couple of shirts, a pair of shoes, new socks and underwear for several children for a mom only earning minimum wage, is huge….and then you add school supplies times three or four kids to that list….wow… Of course even giving a little cold hard cash helps a single mom buy gas or have field trip money.  Let’s face it… how many times have you realized the night before a field trip that tomorrow was the day you have to send the cash?  I know that happened to me a few times!  What about just offering to keep a child for a couple of hours so the mom can go get a much needed nap or go sit in peace and quiet for a while?  Another idea is to fix a meal and invite them over.  If you can’t do any of these…. then text or call and let her know you are thinking about and/or praying for her and the kids.  Ask if there is anything you can do…. she will probably say no…. because most of them don’t like to ask for help.  

Know a single mom? My hat is off to the ones I know.  Has this article opened your eyes?  If so, seek out ways to help the single moms you know.  Single dads for that matter!  I am from a single dad home…. maybe I’ll write about that sometime.  

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