Dear Single Mama, I Had No Idea Until I Became One of You. “Overwhelmed” Doesn’t Even Begin to Describe It.

single mama

My hat is off to you. I wish we could just sit down together and chat and reassure each other that it’s going to be OK. That God will bring us through. Some days when I’m bone weary, I think about the other single mamas out there, keeping their families going and doing so much alone that most folks never see. Consider this a virtual hug and an Atta Girl to keep sowing good seed even in this season.

All those years I was married, I’d known single moms and I’d heard the stats about single moms. But I had no idea. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe life for the single mom. Overwhelmed emotionally, overwhelmed with finances and decisions and leaky air conditioners and countless things that need attention. Overwhelmed trying to re-create that magical family life you once had and so desperately want again for your children.

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I get it now. I know most days you have to be tough and push through and make big decisions all day long all by yourself. Just surviving means that we’ve gotten stronger, but so much of us is still so fragile. I’ve had to cry out to God to help me develop the spine my teen boys need, only to crush a sweet child who needed tenderness. No more good cop, bad cop because you’re both now. Parenting was hard enough with two and I thought we had it down to a pretty good rhythm before Dan died, but I am a student all over again asking God to teach me how to parent these kids by myself.

And the labels stink. Not sure widowed is much easier than divorced. Both mean that we have a whole lot of work figuring out who we are on the other side of marriage. Both involve gut-wrenching shock and raw pain. We both have broken hearts and are taking care of little broken hearts. The widow can take comfort in a finished covenant, yes, but agonizes terribly for children left without a dad. And the divorced mom, while happy her kids still have their dad, feels the sting of rejection and the death of relationship. Neither widowed or divorced is a title we set our young hearts on. But there it is on my Facebook status and penciled onto my kids’ health forms.

It’s hard to move forward when you don’t know who you are apart from your husband. From the time I was 18, I invested every dream, every hope and tomorrow into life with Dan. The daily habits and irritations and vulnerabilities of our two lives chafed until somewhere they merged into one. Shared vision, shared adventure, shared struggle, shared heartache, shared souls. What in the world does life look like on the other side of that?

Well, God promises us it looks abundant. As you put in one more load of laundry for the night, let God be the lifter of your head. He alone gives us hope.

I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.  Psalm 30

God’s promises are true. He has revealed Himself in the Bible to us. And over and over again, He promises that He heals and restores broken hearts.

But I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14


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Lisa Appelo
Lisa Appelo is a homeschooling mom of seven, former lawyer, and a writer at her blog, True & Faithful. She writes about homeschooling, single parenting, life as a young widow with a big family, and God's amazing grace through it all. She hopes you'll join her at LisaAppelo.com.