Sitting across from my widowed friend, I watched dread come over her face at the mention of Mother’s Day. In the years since her husband’s death, a day that should be something to look forward to has become one more holiday that spotlights her loneliness. I can relate.
The bitterness of my first Mother’s Day without my husband was sweetened by friends and family. Bouquets of flowers arrived on my porch and a friend teamed up with my son to surprise me with gifts and treats. I got together with another single mom, and we enjoyed a walk at a botanical garden followed by ice cream with our sons. But that day also held bad attitudes, complaints, and a general lack of gratitude from my son. Unlike in years past, when my husband would ensure that my day was full of encouragement and appreciation, I was now dealing with a crabby child alone. I missed him, but I also missed having someone in my corner.
By my second Mother’s Day as a single mom, my support from others had dropped off steeply. I had to figure out how to celebrate on my own.
Although my heart wasn’t in it, I planned a celebration. My son needed someone to model for him that motherhood is worth celebrating so he will grow up to be a man who celebrates the mothers in his life. We made the best of the day, but what I longed for most was a break.
Caring for single moms
The day in, day out responsibilities of single moms are exhausting. Making dinner, caring for sick kids, reviewing homework, grocery shopping, doing taxes, making or scheduling home repairs, balancing budgets, planning for the future, and juggling all the other things that are barely manageable when shared by two become the responsibility of one. One day, children may mature to a point of understanding the sacrifices moms make. But for those with young kids, that day is not today.
For widows like me, there is an initial outpouring of support that fades with time. But single moms by any other means may find themselves without any outpouring of support, even during the first year. Far too often, Mother’s Day becomes one more day for a mom to handle alone.
This should not be happening in the family of God. Scripture urges us to care for widows. First Timothy 5:3-4 (NLT) says, “Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.”
How often do we skip over this verse or forget God calls us to care for the women in our midst? God’s word is clear: This responsibility belongs to the body of Christ. We who value the role of mothers should be the first to care for and celebrate the ones who are raising their children alone.
Mother’s Day ideas for the single mom
This Mother’s Day, what if you committed to putting this verse into action? What if you brainstormed Mother’s Day ideas, not just for your own mother, but for a mother who may otherwise be overlooked? The celebration doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Every gesture, no matter how small, will be treasured.
Here are six Mother’s Day ideas to inspire you:
1. Help her kids celebrate her.
Young kids love to give their moms special gifts and cards but can’t do it alone. Arrange a time to take her children shopping for little surprise gifts. Give each kid $5 and let them show their appreciation by picking out something meaningful to them. Or invite her kids over and provide the supplies they need to make a handmade gift or card.
2. Acknowledge her daily sacrifices.
Single moms long to be appreciated and need encouragement to press on. Simply acknowledging her sacrifices is a meaningful gift. Send a card or text message letting her know that you are proud of her for being faithful to the difficult, lonely, and often thankless task of raising kids alone.
If you are a pastor who is encouraging moms on Mother’s Day, don’t forget to give a special mention to those who are parenting alone.
3. Take something off her to-do list.
Single moms take care of every detail for their family every day. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to give her a break from this ongoing responsibility.
4. Give the gift of rest.
Single moms rarely get a break. Watch her kids or pay a sitter for a couple hours the week before Mother’s Day (or on the day itself!) so she can enjoy some respite. Team up with friends or a church small group to give her the gift of a massage and arrange childcare. Or invite her kids for a sleepover and let her get a much-needed full night’s sleep.
5. Get her in family pictures.
Moms are usually behind the camera, but this is even more so for single moms. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to surprise her with a family photo session with a local photographer. Many have deals around Mother’s Day, and she will treasure pictures of herself with the kids she loves so much.
6. Send a simple gift to show you care.
If you don’t live close by, or are unable to devote time to caring for her, a simple gift speaks volumes. A bouquet of flowers, favorite coffee roast, calming candle, delicious chocolates, or encouraging devotional are easy to send and fun to receive. Little surprises can brighten her day and help her feel special and cared for as a person. Not just a mom.
However you choose to show care to single moms this Mother’s Day, your gesture of support and encouragement will be significant. You will be showing the love of Jesus to someone who desperately needs it. Let’s love the single moms in our midst with words and actions this Mother’s Day, remembering that “religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
Copyright © 2023 by Elise Boros. All rights reserved.
Elise Boros lives outside of Washington, D.C. and spends her days raising her son and investing in the lives of college students through the campus ministry of Cru. As a young widow, she is passionate about helping other people walk with God through grief and sorrow in an authentic way. Elise blogs monthly as part of the content team for Songs in the Night, a widow discipleship ministry. You can read about her and her husband’s journey through and beyond heart transplant at Waiting For True Life or follow along as she tells their story on instagram @waitingfortruelife.