I’m watching a single mother right now. She’s young. Her rebellious toddler is refusing to eat coleslaw. He screams. Everyone in the barbecue joint watches while the boy flings a spoonful onto her blouse. She’s embarrassed.
And I can tell, just by her face, this child will never walk on two legs again.
I have a soft spot for single mothers.
If you want to know what it’s like to be one, try this: imagine you haven’t slept in ten years, your washing machine explodes, your car breaks down, and now you have coleslaw running down your neck.
That’s a good day.
On a bad day, it’s frozen pizza.
Listen, it’s hard as hell in this world. I can’t think of anything more difficult than navigating through it. But for a single mother, it’s like trying to balance the Titanic on your nose.
These ladies survive on coffee and bad habits. They work until their fingerprints wear off. They spin and grind until they can’t do anymore—and then they do more. And right around five in the afternoon, they cry in the bathroom with the door locked.
They wonder if they’re doing it right. They wonder why God doesn’t treat everyone fair? Doesn’t life get easier?
Then comes the knock. “Mama, you in there?”
So, she’ll dry her eyes, head to the stove to make fried chicken and mashed potatoes—she knows it’s your favorite. She’ll put in another load of laundry, wipe your sister’s hindparts, vacuum, pay bills, and fall asleep before she has time to shower.
I once knew a woman who worked the hospital nightshift. After her husband passed, she worked as a maid, a fast-food cashier, a caterer, a waitress, a newspaper carrier. The money never seemed to be enough. Just getting out of bed felt a whole lot like losing at a poker game.
Then, one day, her kids left home. She’d given them her whole life. And what did she get in return?
If I could say one thing to single mothers around the world, I’d say this:
You deserve it all. And then some. And when you watch your children, you deserve to feel a special kind of pride which no other human has ever felt. The kind that’s stronger than run-of-the-mill pride. After all, you’re everything wrapped into one. You can bandage scraped knees, stretch two dollars for ten miles, and mend broken hearts with biscuits and gravy.
One day, your child will write about you, and he’ll cry while he does it. Not only because he’s grateful.
But because I love you.