To the Single Mom: You Are My Hero

I sat in my third grade class listening to the writing assignment, our chairs arranged in a circle with the teacher sitting directly across from me. It was the week after returning from Spring Break, and our writing prompt was, “For Spring Break, we…”

Kid after kid stood up nervously and read their own personal essays about their families going on vacation. Skiing. Disney. Beach.

My heart hurt.

I felt like something was wrong with me. I was crying inside.

Why didn’t I have a normal family?

My essay highlight was the snuggle-time on the couch with my mom late Friday night when she got home from work. We watched a movie and made popcorn. I loved every second. I don’t remember the movie, but I remember how loved I felt.

At the time, I thought my essay was dumb and lacked a good story. Today, I think of it very differently.

My parents divorced when I was three. I don’t ever remember what it was like having a mom and dad under one roof. But, I have these colorful, vivid memories of my childhood because I was raised by the most amazing single mom:

*I remember my mom always working two jobs at the same time. Sometimes three.

*I remember hunting for spare change in the car for a McDonald’s cheeseburger. She bought one for me, she would go without.

*I remember when I had middle school cheerleading tryouts, and she got up early to make pancakes that spelled “Good Luck.” She had worked past midnight the evening before. When I got to school, all my friends received good luck balloons and huge floral arrangements. Dozens of roses. I knew she couldn’t afford any, and I was perfectly content with my pancakes. But around lunch, my name was called to the office because I got the most amazing single rose I’ve ever received with the sweetest words on the card that said,

“No matter what, I love you.”

*I remember when I made the cheerleading squad, and I received the take-home paper listing the fees for my spirit jacket. I cried in the school bathroom because I didn’t know how we would pay for it. The moment she saw me that day, she knew something was wrong. I could barely get out that we couldn’t afford for me to be cheerleader when she said, “I will take care of this. Do not worry.” She did take care of it…every single time. I still have that jacket, and I’ll never throw it away. It’s a symbol of my mom’s love for me. Her dedication. Her hard work.

*I remember when we could barely afford to pay our electricity bill, but yet I would watch her give to those in need.

*I remember going to the diner where she waitressed and a man was very disrespectful to her. I ached inside. Later, I said, “Please quit that job.” She didn’t, she kept working hard.

*I remember someone telling her once that she could quit at least one of her jobs and be eligible for food stamps. My mom said, “No. I can work. I’m able.”

*I remember my mom crying in the bathroom (behind closed doors and with the sink water turned on) when she didn’t know I could hear.

I’m a mom now. I know how hard it is. She worked 12+ hours a day, came home and LOVED me. She didn’t just raise me. She spent time with me. She always made time for me.

She disciplined. She was strict (too strict sometimes). She was a great mom, but we were also best friends. It was she and I, facing the odds, standing strong together.

She cuddled me when I cried. She was my protector. She taught me to work hard and give generously.

She was my maid of honor at my wedding because there was no other person who had walked through life with me the way she did (and continues to).

The two of us… we were a normal family. And now, as I think back to that third grade assignment, I cherish those times I remember with her. No big fancy vacations. No expensive clothes. No big home – mostly only rentals in trailer parks and apartments.

Just QUALITY time. The most important thing to give a child… she got it right.

I spent half my life wishing I had a different one. And now, I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything. I’m proud of my family… my mom and my dad.*

To the single mom: You are my hero. I see what you do. I know how hard you work. I know you’re busy because you have to do everything, but keep investing that QUALITY time. You will have an unbreakable and special bond with your kids. No one will ever be able to take it away.
*My dad and I had a “start over” moment when I was newly married. I love him so. He had his own struggles when I was little. We all have them. We’re all doing the best we can. It has been amazing and awesome to watch our relationship grow. Healing and forgiveness is possible, with God. I’m so proud of you, Dad!


My Husband’s Other Woman

I could see the excitement in my kindergartener’s eyes as we walked through the lunch line together — his first real experience in the school cafeteria. He had begged me the night before to join him. We talked at lunch, enjoyed our milk and pizza, but it was over all too soon. He lined up with his class to resume the daily activities, and that’s when it happened.

He ran in full force straight to me, leaped into my arms (no joke, I almost fell over) and gave me the biggest hug & kiss ever. Ever. And, it was in front of his whole class.


As I was walking to the car, happy tears streamed. How am I this blessed? I’m his #1 gal, he truly loves me.

Just like in my normal {unhealthy} style, I couldn’t stay in the joyous moment. I had to start thinking about the future.

I pray for him to find the love of his life and marry one day. I’ll be cheering from the sidelines as he and his wife create a beautiful family.


“A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Genesis 2:24

But that also means, I will no longer be his #1 gal. I’ll be a mother-in-law.

End of dream.

I want to get this on record before I become a mother-in-law – I think they get a bad rap! I know some of you must be thinking, She can’t possibly know what I have to deal with.

It’s true, I don’t know your circumstances. But, I’m certain of this:

Your mother-in-law is not perfect. No one is.

Your mother-in-law will not always say and do the right things. No one does.

Your mother-in-law needs forgiveness. Everyone does.


I highly respect my mother-in-law. She raised an amazing, Godly man who is now my husband. What a gift! Early in our marriage, I respected her so much that I expected perfection. When she made mistakes, I couldn’t believe it. I judged her at a higher standard.

After 16 years, we’ve had our ups-and-downs. We’ve had misunderstandings and disagreements. We’ve said things we regret. I’ve put up walls. {And, I write this with her approval first.}

But this I know for sure, we love and forgive each other. When we mess up, we extend grace.

No matter what, I must always remember … my mother-in-law used to be my husband’s #1 gal.

He will only have one mother.

And, I can’t imagine the difficulty it is for her to step-aside and cheer from the sidelines.

So, I know. There are tough personalities and family issues. But, that relationship with your mother-in-law, it’s important to your husband and your marriage.

Keep the peace. Restore that strong family bond. Love and forgive.