When I think of the many sounds that came out of my house growing up in Orlando, Fla., I hear my mother yelling at the top of her lungs every morning in praying over my sister and me. In fact, it’s how I started most days.
I have no clue why my mom thought it would be necessary to yell out her prayers. If the point was to get the message across to God to make sure he heard her prayers, I’m sure God heard.
As we celebrate this Mother’s Day, there can be a tendency to skip over the backbone of American culture, single mothers. Many single mothers go throughout our culture hidden at times.
I still remember the day it became clear to me that I would be growing up in a single-parent household. And I also remember the pain that would go along with it. Even as I type the words, I find myself in somewhat of a despair. I can tell you the place, even the brown Toyota car my dad drove, when he made the dreadful decision to disrespect my mother in his car. I can remember sitting hopelessly in the back seat as a small child not being able to do much at all to defend my mother, who at the time, to my recollection, was pregnant with my sister. My parents soon would end up divorcing, not for that reason, but for many others. By the way, that reason alone would have been enough.
For many single parents who find themselves having to raise children on their own, they do so without complaining and at times taking on the shame and trauma of the role that goes along with it. Although attitudes have changed regarding single mothers, the plague that goes along with the title and struggle can be overwhelming.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Kiera Sheard on her new book Big, Bold, and Beautiful. During our time together, she remarked on the difference between condemnation and conviction. I never had heard it explained in this way, but conviction, according to Kiera, is when the saints come alongside you and offer healing and help.
Many single mothers on this day don’t need condemnation. My mom, for example, was fully aware of what she was up against.
“Many single mothers on this day don’t need condemnation.”
In most single-mother households, there are more days than not of waiting on the paycheck to come in. Not to mention that because there’s just one parent, any sick leave has to be guarded for a sick child. There are no days off for single mothers.
I can clearly remember my mother instilling within my sister and me that we weren’t poor but that we had to discipline how we spent money. In reality, this meant we wouldn’t miss out on what most kids would get, but at the same time there wasn’t a lot of room for error. My mom’s answer to everything was that it would have to be prayed through.
Recently, I interviewed former IT cosmetics CEO/founder Jamie Kern Lima on her new book Believe It. I asked her why she felt the need to be so authentic regarding her own struggles, and she said, “If we never share the stories behind the struggle, then people will feel alone.” I think Jamie is right. I’m sharing some of my personal stories because I don’t want any single mother to feel alone and ashamed.
Even for those of you I’ve never met, I want to be clear that single mothers are my heroes. You deserve much respect and should not be forgotten.
“I want to be clear that single mothers are my heroes. You deserve much respect and should not be forgotten.”
My mother knew that although she was my mother she couldn’t fill the role of being my dad, and I’m thankful she found a village of people to surround herself with to step in when she couldn’t fulfill certain roles.
On this Mother’s Day, my prayer is two-fold. If you know a single mother and can help in any way, please step in and offer help. And to the single mothers, be set free of thinking you have to fill every role. During my time with Jamie Kern Lima, she reminded me that for everything we go through, it’s just a step in our journey toward faith.
I believe single mothers, on this Mother’s Day, deserve a standing ovation not just for the faith and faithful service of living and carrying out two roles, but because they often do so in silence, hoping they can just get their kids the fresh start in life they need.
As Kiera Sheard shared with me, sometimes in life we have to pick up the broken pieces and glue them back together again. I believe when my mother was voicing her prayers to God, as she still does now for her grandchildren, she knew God was not only going to deliver but that God heard her. She knew somewhere in her core that she was carrying out her calling in life.
Every one of us has a calling, and it’s what we do with it that will matter in the end. Thank you, single-parent mothers, for carrying out your calling on this Mother’s Day.
Maina Mwaura is a freelance writer and communications consultant who lives in the metro Atlanta area. A native of Orlando, Fla., he earned a bachelor of science degree in communications from Liberty University and a master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
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