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FIRST-PERSON: Don’t forget the single mom this Mother’s Day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–It’s an amazing thing to be a mother. The responsibility you have for another human being, the joy you get watching that little one grow and develop, the privilege you have of being the one to share in that new life. There’s nothing that can compare … well, maybe if you’re a father.

Last year around this time I wrote a column about our little boy Caleb and how he had yet to use that wonderful word ‘mommy.’ He’s two now, and (as I knew he would) has learned to use my name in all sorts of ways — “hello mommy,” “I love you mommy,” and as any independent two-year-old would say — “NO mommy.”

This year my worry was focused on a possibility of something that my husband and I knew we had no control of. I was confronted with the fact that I might be a single mom for a while. Cliff is a Navy reservist and for the last few months we’ve experienced the ups and downs of the unknown. We listened and processed rumors that his unit might be activated as the war with Iraq loomed. We watched half of his unit leave. And we braced ourselves for the worse when he got the phone call a week after the war had begun that his battalion was being considered for activation. The not knowing is probably the hardest thing to deal with.

After coming back from covering stories about Christians on board the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), I was amazed as I talked with some of the wives of the sailors I had met, who are here back in the states. The daily struggles they face are constant while their husbands are deployed, and there’s not much downtime for these moms — with kids to take care of, houses to keep up, and cars and yards to maintain. I could relate in my conversations with them.

Cliff was in California for three weeks for reserve training and I was playing single mom as well, not sure if he would be coming home or heading off for a year’s absence. These wives talked about the enormous help their churches, friends and family have been to them and their children. The help they’ve received with mowing the yard or fixing a broken down car; the babysitting assistance and the dinners that show up at the door.

The military wives also talked about something they’re all looking forward to — homecoming. They said there’s nothing like those first few days when their husbands come home, and life can take on a sense of normalcy for a while. My homecoming with Cliff happened quicker than theirs — he came home as scheduled from his training just as the war was winding down, and (God-willing) it looks like he won’t be deployed. The wives of the sailors on the Truman also are looking forward to a scheduled return, probably in less than a month or so.

But let’s shift our direction a little bit and look at another group of single moms — moms that don’t have a homecoming in their future. Moms that for one reason or another, are alone all the time – working, parenting and desperate to keep food on the table and love for their children at the ready. All this takes time and enormous amounts of energy. My question is: where do these moms get their help? Where do they get their support?

I will never forget Katie’s mom. Katie was a first-grader in our Sunday School class that my husband and I volunteered to teach. She was extremely bright but had a lot of behavior issues. Each Sunday, we would take a deep breath and begin again, trying to show her the love of Jesus. One morning, Katie’s mom showed up only a few minutes after just dropping her daughter off, ready to take her home. I quickly walked out into the hall with her and asked if there was a problem. No problem — it’s just that no one was in her single mom’s Sunday School class, she said, the tears obviously in her eyes. I tried every way I could to get her to stay, but it didn’t happen. I saw a lonely, very burdened lady leave the doors of the church and it broke my heart.

I think of a time shortly after our move here to Nashville in our mom’s network that we have at LifeWay. The topic of the meeting was parenting, and mom after mom talked about how great it would be to get the husbands to help out more around the house. Until one woman quietly spoke up — she was a single mom with no family around and not a lot of friends. Where was she supposed to get help? The silence in the room that followed has stayed with me. Where do single moms get their help? What are our churches doing to help single moms? Are they doing enough?

This Mother’s Day, let’s especially make it a point to remember the single mom. She has an enormous task before her. She is everything to her children, both in physical and spiritual matters. You have to admit, that’s a lot to ask of one person. Seek out those single moms in your church and let them know you’re praying for them. Better yet, find out what their needs are and how you can help. Keep it up even after the holiday has passed. You’ll never know how God may use you and what a blessing you may be to a single mom.
Horn formerly was director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and now is a writer at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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  • Sara Horn