Updated: Mar 24, 2021
That is it, I thought, as I read the words on the picture a friend sent to me this morning. That’s the dilemma we are all faced with as we move through our lives during these past 12 months of COVID 19 protocols and restrictions. This particular struggle has become a more intense reality as my desire to build a support group for single moms has been growing over the past five months. The truth is, I don’t want to “say,” I want to listen. I imagine bits of my own story as a single mom will come out, but it is the hurt, the angst and the trials of those who are currently living the single motherhood life that I want to hear. It is the victories in the moments of joy or personal revelation, however small or rare, that I want to celebrate with them. And while I smile as I hear of the funny things kids do it is the healing moments of laughter that I would like to share with them. How do you build a support group when you cannot gather? How do you forge new relationships when it is difficult to be seen?
Sometime last September someone sat in my office pouring her heart out over the mental anguish the quarantine had brought on for both her and her son. As a single mom she had been struggling to care for both her own isolation and his mental breakdown. She was angry at the isolation because what she was managing was far worse than physical illness. What had begun as a business meeting had become a time of connection. A relationship that had been friendly became deep and meaningful as we both shared bits of our stories. After hearing my story, she queried, “Ferol, I have to ask you . . . How did you come back? How, after all you’ve been through, did you come back to the church?” I don’t recall my exact words. I am sure I talked about God’s faithfulness and that He continued to pursue me until I, broken and without hope, returned to Him.
“So, you are telling me there is hope? There is hope for my son?”
“Yes, there is always hope.”
From her car she sent me this text, “Thanks for the talk. You are doing ministry! It just may not look like what you thought it would be.”
These were encouraging words that I needed to hear. Remembering that it took me six years after the point of my repentance for me to actually return to church, I realized that she may not be the only one that would benefit from hearing how and why I returned. After that, I began to see that God had been placing single moms in front of me for awhile; I had just missed the connection. My own daughter who is living with us as she raises her daughter is one. Out of a desire to help single moms I know, I began to look for resources. The challenge is still how do I build relationships when we cannot gather? How do I find those who are craving a support system? The answer, whether I like it or not, seems to be social media. So I'm putting myself out there with this first writing in an effort not to talk, as much as to hear. Do you want to share your story? I want to hear it and not just hear it, but to deeply listen to what you are saying underneath the words. How can I help? I know you don’t know me, so why should you trust me? The internet is not a private place, so I will start with something simple. I will start with the words I wrote after my morning devotions today.
Dear Single Mom,
Parenting is hard. I believe that for most people it is the hardest thing we will ever do. The truth is, even though you may know it’s hard – you have no idea just how hard it is until you are in it. No amount of classes or reading prepares you for the reality of parenting.
Single parenting is harder still. Even when you have a great support system, the weight of responsibility can be overwhelming, the loneliness and the sheer exhaustion are too often all consuming. It doesn’t stop as the children get older, it just becomes different. My heart especially reaches out to you, a single mother, who has survived a year of quarantine. While I remember life as a single mother, nothing I experienced is equal to the difficulties and adjustments you have faced this past year. As a single mom you are already having to be both mom, dad, and often playmate, for your child. Now, you are also called upon to teach them and, in many cases, to do it while working from home. I remember referring to my work as my sanctuary because, even though I worked hard, it was a place of respite from my children. This year, there has been no separation or space created for you to just be you.
Where is your support system?
Where is your village?
As I have been thinking about these things over the past several months, I began talking to other women in my church, women who want to help. We are reading books and learning tips on parenting, good finances, health and well-being. We are making plans for when we can gather once again. We realize that single mothers are a diverse group. Moms become single for so many reasons. Whether it is a life choice or a life circumstance; abuse, divorce, widowhood or an unplanned pregnancy, we would love to meet you. There are single moms who struggle financially and those who are blessed with sufficient income. Regardless of your circumstances or reasons, we want to walk alongside you in your parenting journey. This effort is now called, PazNaz Village, a community where you can be at home.
Currently, we are limited in how we can gather so I invite you to respond to this blog here or to e-mail me at email@example.com. Let us know what you are going through and how we can help.