How to Navigate the Single Mom Life
The United States Census Bureau reports that approximately 23% of children under the age of 18 live with a single mother. This is the second most common family arrangement in the U.S. (behind two-parent households). Although almost one-quarter of our children are living with a single mom, we often overlook them in our neighborhoods, in our schools, and in our churches.
On Mother’s Day, we see images of husbands taking their children to buy mom a special gift. But we do not always hear stories or see advertisements about single moms.
As this weekend approaches, here is a story about a Chase Oaker who has love, support, hope, and encouragement for all of the single moms out there.
Becoming a Single Mom
After being married for 9 years with three beautiful children, Chase Oaker Tiffany Lowman found herself in the middle of a divorce. In 2015, Tiffany and her husband separated, thinking it would only be temporary. Shortly after separating, Tiffany realized she was headed for divorce.
Tiffany was raised in the church and by two parents who are still together today. She did not understand how this could have happened. She did not understand how to reconcile her faith and divorce. How could she face her friends, family, and people at church as a divorced single mom? How was she going to raise her children as a single parent?
As she was searching for answers, Tiffany did her best to map out a road for her and her children. She was going to have to find a full-time job and figure out finances and parenting on her own.
In the middle of trying to figure out her new life, Tiffany remembers being surprised by what she found with her family, friends, and the church: “There’s a lot of grace. People show you a lot of grace. And then God just shows up. He just does.”
Coping with Co-Parenting
Finding grace and love gave Tiffany hope and encouragement, but she still faced a lot of challenges ahead as a single mom. One of the greatest challenges was co-parenting (or as she likes to call it “parallel parenting”) with her ex-husband.
Tiffany likes to refer to co-parenting as “parallel parenting” because she does not always see eye-to-eye with her ex-husband when it comes to parenting. They have very different approaches, including different rules and lifestyles, which can make it seem like they are driving in two different lanes.
In addition, her ex-husband is engaged. Therefore, she has to co-parent with his fiancée as well. His fiancée has done well in taking responsibility for her children, but it is hard to watch her children with another mom.
When it comes to co-parenting, Tiffany has to constantly ask herself, “Is this really about my kids, or is it about me?” If it is more about her, she takes a step back to let her ex-husband and his fiancée parent her children.
To cope with their different approaches to parenting, Tiffany reminds herself she cannot control everything. But she knows who does. She remembers God is in complete control. So, she prays for protection over her children when she cannot be with them.
Learning Life Lessons as a Single Mom
Although there are many challenges that come with being a single mom, overcoming these challenges can foster personal growth and strengthen your faith. When asked what important lessons she has learned since becoming a single mom, Tiffany gave three important pieces of advice that can help single moms.
- Be okay with not being okay right now.
Describing how she felt after going through a divorce, Tiffany says, “Divorce is grief. There’s going to be days you feel like you can take on the world. And days you can’t get out of bed.”
After facing divorce, Tiffany had to grieve, breathe in and out, and release the mom guilt. She had to learn how to take care of herself. For many moms, it is a natural reaction to take care of their children first. But there are difficult times in life when moms need to take care of themselves in order to be able to take care of their children.
When her children first started visiting their dad’s house, Tiffany remembers feeling lonely and sad. She had no clue what she was going to do without them. So much of her life had been built around taking care of her three children. At first, Tiffany made plans with friends and tried to find different things to do to stay busy. She hoped it would make the time go by fast.
However, eventually, Tiffany learned how to appreciate the time she had to herself. She found herself relaxing more and doing things to rejuvenate her. Rather than always trying to go out with friends, she started to find comfort in a peaceful home.
She could binge on Netflix. She could eat whatever she wanted (without worrying whether her children would approve). She could take the time to find out what she liked. She could find her identity in Christ and as a woman apart from being a wife and mother. Tiffany admitted she had to learn what she liked to do, what she liked to eat, and what she wanted her future to look like.
Having the time to relax and take care of herself helped her be ready to take care of her children on her own. Feeling refreshed, she found enjoyment as she talked and played with her children (even after a long day at work). She was ready to face another week of school, sports, and dinners. She was ready to face a future with new goals and new dreams.
- Surround yourself with people that love you and let them help you.
Oftentimes, asking for help is one of the most difficult things for moms to do. We want to be the supermom that you see on the television—the mom that always looks like she has it together. But the truth is none of us can be supermoms. We all need help and support. We all need love and encouragement.
As a single mom, Tiffany strongly advises single parents to ask for help from close friends and family as needed. There is no need to feel guilty. Whether you need help with getting the children to school or need help one evening if you have to work late, do not hesitate to ask your support group—whether that is close friends, family, or neighbors.
After her separation, Tiffany not only faced being a single mom, who was only working a part-time job, but she also faced car and medical issues. She had to rely on other people to get her children to and from school and to give her rides to run errands. It was hard to ask for help. But her circumstances forced Tiffany reach out to close friends and family to help her.
Shortly after her company restructured, Tiffany lost her job and became extremely sick. She was hospitalized, and eventually, she needed surgery. Being sick and a single mom do not go hand-in-hand. With Tiffany’s sickness being so severe, she had to ask for help once again.
Throughout her trials, Tiffany was grateful for her close friends and family that came around her to show her love and grace and to give her support and encouragement. It is important to surround yourself with friends and family that will love you and support you. Oftentimes, it is through loving people that we see God’s grace, love, and power at work in our lives.
- Hang onto your faith and let God carry you through.
One of the most important lessons Tiffany learned was not to give up on her faith. She sought God and basked in His grace and love. During the most difficult times in our lives, we realize our great need for God’s intervention. This is when spiritual growth and transformation takes place.
To cope with difficult days following her divorce, Tiffany used sticky notes to put Bible verses throughout her house—on the walls and mirrors—places she would see as a daily reminder of His grace, love, and provision.
Not understanding how she was going to support herself and her three children, Tiffany surrendered to God and completely trusted Him to help see her through this difficult time. Tiffany prayed and clung to God’s promises in the Bible. She found hope and encouragement in the book of Psalms.
One of her favorite go-to verses was “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:2).
Despite facing divorce, sickness, and unemployment, Tiffany always had a sense of peace. She knew God had a plan for her and her children. As Tiffany prayed for provision and protection, she saw God do amazing things in her life.
In the middle of her sickness, God provided a new job as a Creative Director at The Eclectic Floor & Design Company. He provided a brand-new home for her family. But most of all, He provided peace, love, joy, and faith through her journey.
If you know a single mom, take some time this Mother’s Day to encourage her by letting her know she is a wonderful mom and she is loved. Showing love and support can go a long way in helping her deal with the challenges she faces every day.