We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. We need compassion.
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
During this all-important Mother’s Day weekend, let’s take a look at the one segment of women we rarely consider celebrating and yet they are probably the most courageous, compassionate and caring mothers under the sun. I am talking about the single mom.
Take a minute and consider who you know that is a single mom. Maybe she is your mom, or one of your kids’ school teachers, or a neighbor, or maybe she is you.
A single mother will refer to herself as “survivor,” as she experiences exhaustion from multiple jobs, guilt over missed opportunities for her children, and abandonment by men. Lonely and sometimes shut out by her own family, a single mom is likely to be embarrassed by her poverty, and judged for her failed marriages or choices in life. She needs community, acceptance, friends, and role models of character for her children.
A single mother just wants to be accepted the way she is. She is a fighter. She takes care of her kids and will do anything for them. She is always making sure her kids have what they need and the rent is paid on time. She tries to be sure her kids are happy; she thinks she has a beautiful family. She is giving them all her love.
Like so many of us, a single mother’s greatest need is for real, unconditional love. There is no mistaking this love. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heats our souls, energizes our spirits and supplies passion to our lives.
This love is found in the simplicity of compassion shown in a variety of ways to a single mom. Those who make compassion an essential part of their lives find what the Lord says is the joy of life.
Since there is no such thing as a small act of compassion, every act is like a ripple with no logical end. While on earth, we will probably never know how far this chain reaction can go or how much it makes a difference in a single mother’s life. But we will someday.
For Mother’s Day — and throughout your life — consider some simple acts of compassion shown in a variety of ways to a single mom in your life’s realm of influence. Here are some simple acts of kindness any one of us can do:
- 1. When next in line at Starbucks, if you recognize a single mom, tell the barista behind the counter that you are picking up the tab for her. When the bewildered person turns to you and tries to refuse, simply say “Hey, it’s on me today.”
- 2. Speaking of lines, here is how to practice patience while at the same time offering an experience of compassion. Stop several times in a day to notice a single mom and then go out of your way to be courteous to her. When you’re standing in the terminal’s check point and she is in front of you, taking forever to get through security because she is unaccustomed to the safety procedures, or waiting to pay for your food at the grocery store, or longing for the line at the Bank to move along faster before the money runs out, offer to let a single Mom go in front of you.
- 3. Little girls of single moms also love to become princesses like Cinderella by adding a tutu around their day-to-day clothing. The next time you see a little princess, step into her life of make believe and ask for her autograph.
- 4. When next at your vehicle repair shop, purchase two new tires. In lieu of taking them with you, ask for a gift certificate or receipt from your mechanic. Then keep your eyes wide open for a single mom’s vehicle that really needs to replace two tires. Once you have spotted the almost-disabled vehicle, put in an envelope the directions to the repair shop, the mechanic’s name, and the gift certificate or receipt for the two new tires. Tuck the envelope under the windshield wiper and then dash away before she sees you.
- 5. Find someone who is overcoming barriers. Listen to her story. Ask her for her phone number so that you can call and tell her how you have applied her lesson to your life. There are single mothers of all sizes and dispositions who are overcoming obstacles every day. It is a matter of looking for her.
- 6. If you know a single mother who is struggling financially or simply does not have the time, offer to clean her home or do the yard work.
- 7. Tell a single mom that she has the next Saturday off because you are giving her children an entertaining day of fun.
- 8. A single mom often feels embarrassed and judged because she thinks married couples see her as a failure. Yet she is very hungry for acceptance. So leave a kind letter in her mailbox noting how much you admire her courage in not giving up — how you’ve seen her compassionate heart, and value how committed she is to her children. Tell her that beginning this day you will be praying for her. Ask her for specific prayer requests that you can add to your daily commitment. Perhaps if she is too shy to respond, it’s important for you to follow up with a call or visit.
- 9. Single mothers have been rejected, and, in many cases, betrayed. So don’t be surprised if she thinks you are helping her because you want something in return. She is suspicious of compassion. Therefore, give a single mom your phone number and tell her to call if she needs someone to talk to. Just knowing there is someone to call can be everything to a single mother.
- 10. From a single mother’s point of view, if you have the gift of fixing, God has favored you over all men and women. There isn’t a single mom who doesn’t have a dripping sink that needs repair, a need for someone to replace a broken window, help changing the oil on her vehicle, making right the broken safety lock, checking to see if the smoke alarms work. The list is endless, but you need tend to only one “fix it” for her to be grateful forever.
- 11. Are you a good organizer? More than likely the kitchen or the closets need someone like you to take charge. It is not that single moms are messy. Rather it is a matter of time and priorities. While you are replacing the clutter with your gift of order, make a note of what is missing (silverware, food stuffs, a winter coat). Then find a friend to help you gather the missing items and place them where they belong for your single mom to discover.
- 12. Think about something you are good at (tax preparation, accounting, networker for jobs, etc.) and make a commitment to use your talent to help at least one single mother.
- 13. Tell your single mom that she matters to the Lord and to you. Tell her often because it will take quite a while before she will dare to trust you.
- 14. Make her dinner and bring it over when you see her drive in from work. Don’t stop to talk. She is tired and the kids are hungry.
- 15. Be the Walmart Greeter wherever you go. Hold a door open for a single mother and give her a smile. A small and unexpected gesture on your part will certainly brighten her day and may even turn around a bad mood.
- 16. Feed her meter.
- 17. Get out of your comfort zone and make a friend. Introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. Or perhaps there is a single mother you’ve seen occasionally on the bus or in the neighborhood. Ask her how she is doing. Find out what she thinks about the community, the school system — anything that you both might have in common.
Most of these examples are just simple acts of compassion — ways to make a single mother’s day memorable. After all, would you forget someone who went out of his or her way to make your day?
As we become acquainted with compassion, we learn new things and feel new feelings. Compassion is more than a thought; it is the conviction of the Spirit.
Let us know whether it was difficult for you to begin. Did you have to overcome fears before you could act? Was it unexpected? What was the response of the single mom and how did you feel? Did compassion deepen the spirit? Were there results?
We welcome your single mom’s Mother’s Day story.
Click here A Single Mother to find a very real single Mom’s story from someone we know very well.
Yours always for the journey,
John and Marti