Hey Single Mama.
This year is the first Mother's Day where I have joined your ranks. It's been a hard day, and I've been doing a lot of thinking.
I used to say that I could never be a single mom. That I wasn't strong enough. That I didn't know how you all do it. I'd say it to my husband, holding his hand, telling him that I was so glad I'd always have him there to do life and parenthood with me. I had no idea that my future would have me single parenting right along with you.
Here's what I have to say now. And I'll probably have something different to say next year when the dust has settled a bit more and I've found my footing.
I still don't know how you do it. I don't know how I do it most days.
I'm sorry that you have to. I'm sorry that I have to. This is not a job for one. It's just not. But we do it because what other option is there? Who else will do what we do?
So here's a love letter to you, to me, to the mom scared shitless because her husband just walked out on her last week. To the moms we will welcome into our ranks with our own broken hearts and open arms, the ranks we don't want to see grow. The ranks of the tired, the lonely, the brave, and the blessed. The silent army of moms who do it all for everyone and fall into bed at night exhausted, but knowing their shift doesn't end when the sun goes down. The sweat soaked and tear streaked warriors who press on even when they feel like their world has shattered and they have nothing left to give. This is for us. For you.
I know you, tired mama.
You are me.
You are the stranger-sister juggling two people's worth of burdens in the Target parking lot with a baby that is tired and crabby and always on your hip.
You are the mom who shuts herself into the bathroom for ten minutes when everything becomes more than you can handle after days and days of aloneness and silently cries so her kids don't have to see her tears.
You are the proud mom who cheers with all her might as her daughter graduates her first year of preschool.
You are the midnight doctor that comforts a feverish toddler, praying quietly for their relief.
You are the woman who never ever ever thought that her husband would leave.
Or pass away.
Or simply cease to exist as you knew him.
You are the chef who has made three meals before she realizes she's forgotten to feed herself. Again.
You are the woman who will not give up hope that this is not all there is.
You are the dreamer, the one who looks into the future and sees a million beautiful possibilities.
You are the Survivor that has found a way to make it through obstacles you never knew existed before you had to do it all yourself.
You are the fervent prayer warrior that prays and prays and prays for better things for her children. A better life. A whole family. A whole heart.
You are the Hero her kids can depend on, day in and day out.
You are the safe place. The constant. The rest for her children in the midst of a cruel world.
You are the endless burner of midnight oil who wakes again, and again, and again to soothe babies after nightmares, and teething, and fevered unrest.
You are the beautiful woman who feels unseen. Unknown. Unprotected.
You are the woman who knows that her worth is in God alone. Not in a man. Not in her kids. Not in her career. Not in her struggles. Not in her victories.
You are a mom. The most selfless calling there is.
And tonight, if this day has been as hard for you as it's been for me, you may be having a hard time remembering all of the things that make you so truly amazing. Maybe you find yourself feeling guilty that this day has caught you so off guard in the way it's brought you so flipping low instead of joyful because you're a mom and you love your kids.
I need to tell you, because I need to tell myself, that's ok. You don't have to feel guilty. You bear a heavy burden. It's an amazing one, I bet you'd never give it up, I know I wouldn't, but it's still so big. Maybe next year you won't feel crushed under the weight of what you wish Mother's Day was for you, but isn't. Maybe you won't feel so jealous of friends who don't have to do it alone, and who's spouses shower them with affection and appreciation. But it's ok if you still do. We'll get there, you and I. It's a hard day. A great day, but a hard day.
So maybe I've never met you. Maybe we are great friends. Maybe no one knows yet that this was your first Mother's Day alone. But I do know this, beautiful mama… you are so much stronger and more beautiful than you know. And even when you feel invisible, there are people like year-ago-me who look at you in awe, and wonder how you do what you do. How you are everything to everyone and still manage to hold your head up and take on the world. People see. I see. Your Heavenly Father sees.
This is my prayer for us, single moms… that tonight, and every night, when you lie in your bed alone or surrounded by your babies, that you feel undeniably, heart-swellingly loved and cherished and doted on by your Daddy in Heaven. Because He sees everything. All of our struggles. All of our tears. All of our sacrifices and struggles. He will never leave us. Never die. Never change. Never disappoint. And I pray that we can quiet the voices inside ourselves that rage and mourn and worry and fear long enough to hear Him say "I see you. Your every breath. Your every tear. Your every laugh. Your every fear. I see you trying to give your kids a better life. I see you trying to serve me with a heart that is undivided and grateful. I see you giving everything you have and then giving some more. I hear your prayers and petitions for love and healing and comfort. And I am all of those things. My beautiful daughter, I am SO PROUD of you. I am so proud. You are so loved. You are taken care of. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Maybe this Mother's Day hasn't been happy for you. It really wasn't for me. I get it. But I do pray that it will be filled with comfort. With peace from our Father. With hope for the future. With love from your children. You are loved, warrior mama. You are so perfectly and beautifully loved by the truest and most perfect Love.
Happy Mother's Day.