Originally published Tuesday, 06 May 2014.
Holidays of any kind can be tough for a mother who is parenting alone, especially if she is new to her role as a single mom. But Mother’s Day is perhaps one of the most difficult for single mothers. It can serve as a reminder of all the things that once were, but are no longer. It can hint at all of a single mom’s insecurities and provoke such thoughts, as I’m not the mother I want to be. I failed my children. I shouldn’t have to be alone today or others.
Many years ago, I attended a Mother’s Day church service as a single mom. The pastor wanted to recognize all the mothers in the audience. Since it was a small church, he invited each of us onto the stage together for a moment of prayer. Part of this special time included having each husband pin a corsage onto his wife, as their children hugged her and looked on. I stood there alone on stage for what seemed like an eternity, silently wondering how I would get my corsage. My children were still in the church nursery and far too young to pin any corsage on me. It was awkward to say the least. Finally, a very special widow in our church noticed me and hurriedly came to pen a corsage to my dress. I was so grateful for that special widow. In no way am I saying that my embarrassment was somehow the pastor’s fault. I don’t think it was. He wanted to make a special moment for the mothers of his church. His heart was in the right place. It probably never occurred to him that there may be a few moms who had lost their husbands or maybe never had one in the first place. It was just one more reminder that I had made wrong choices in my life and may forever have to pay the consequences.
Last Mother’s Day, our ministry received an email from a broken single mother who had a similar experience. The pastor of her church invited all the mothers in the church to stand as their husbands prayed over them. It turned into an extended prayer time that left this single mother standing alone with tears streaming down her face, as she mourned, once again, the loss of her marriage. It angered her. She wrote us to exclaim that she would never attend her church again. She was adamant that her pastor should have been aware of her aloneness. We encouraged her, prayed with her, and insisted she stay connected.
The truth is, for many who are single mothers or once were, hurt from the past that hasn’t been dealt with can be triggered by something as beautiful and simple as a church’s mother’s day celebration. Much of my hurt on that Mother’s Day so many years ago was due to my open wound that had not yet healed. My hurt, anger, and bitterness flooded through my heart as the tears flowed from my eyes that afternoon. For many single mothers, this Mother’s Day may pose similar concerns.
If you happened to know a single mother this holiday season, make an effort to make her day special:
- Take her children to shop for a little treat for their mom.
- Offer to babysit her children and have them bake her cookies as a surprise.
- Invite her to lunch with your family after church.
- Stand with her in agreement of God’s future for her, if there is special prayer time in your church service.
Jennifer Maggio is a nationally-recognized author and speaker who uses her own story to inspire others with God's redeeming love for all. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.