By TMoM Team Member Laura Simon
Like many single moms, I never intended to become one. However, sheer will and prayer cannot govern another human being’s choices, so at the age of 42, I found myself the solo parent of three kids. Also, I’m a homeschooling mom with a community of homeschool mom friends who aren’t single. Yes, that’s hard in its own way. But I can also tell you this: I would not have survived the last few years without those friends.
I realize it can be hard to know how to support someone who is walking a road you haven’t experienced, so I’d love to share what friends have done for me that has lightened my physical and emotional load.
- Listen to them talk about their kids. I didn’t anticipate this one, but when my kids achieve something, I’m so stinking proud. I want that achievement to be seen – whether it’s getting through the math lesson without tears or getting a personal best in a race – and the absence of another person who shares that joy is hard. My friends have been so gracious about fielding texts and phone calls, getting excited, remembering their meets and games, cheering for my kids and with them – it feels less isolating when you’re seen.
- Include them in the couples’ stuff. I really do get it’s weird to have that extra seat at the table, and yes, sometimes I feel a little “extra.” But that’s better than feeling excluded simply for the lack of a plus-one. Single moms want to get dressed up and have fun, too!
- Offer to help with specific things. I feel like I need a LOT of help, and I also feel like a perpetual burden. When people ask me how they can help, my brain immediately goes into overload and I often can’t think of anything. But if someone says, “Can we help you trim the hedges that require a special tool?”, it’s much easier to say yes. And keep asking – the enormity of running a household and a life solo is never-ending.
- Keep the budget, ahem, affordable. That wage-gap still exists, and never assume that a single mama is actually getting financial support. Choosing an activity on the affordable side is an easy way to make sure single moms don’t feel left out.
- Remember birthdays and holidays – and involve the kids. This is a huge one. My kids WANT to go shopping for my birthday, but I’m the only one to take them. Helping them celebrate their mama both fills my heart and teaches them to be good friends and family members. Holidays – especially birthdays – can feel especially lonely; being noticed and celebrated is such a gift.
- Sit with them in the hard spaces. In the past year, friends have shown up to clean out my rental house when I moved. They’ve created a schedule so that I’m never in court alone. They include me in the carpool even when I don’t remotely pull my weight. When I’m struggling, meals show up. Again, one of the hardest parts of solo parenting is holding up the whole sky by yourself. The hard things are so much easier with someone to walk with you.
- Notice when they’re doing a good job. Whether that’s celebrating a job promotion or seeing an interaction with their kids that was handled really well, it is so helpful to hear positive feedback. I know we all worry that we’re ruining our kids, but single moms are especially aware that their families are supposedly responsible for all the things that are wrong in society. When someone sees my kids being good citizens and friends, it makes all the difference.
Above all, please remember that single moms are whole human beings who aren’t defined by their solo parenting status. We still want girls’ nights, we still have hobbies, and we’re still the friends you always knew. Remind us of that – because the challenges of life can make it easy to forget.