If I could count the times I’ve heard (and said myself) the phrase, “Oh, I’m just a mom” after being asked the question, “What do you do for a living,” it would fill a number of pages. But we do that, right? Sell ourselves short on the hardest, most privileged “job” in the world by emphasizing that word ‘JUST.’ Well…
After four years of marriage in my early 20s—which included giving birth to, and raising twins and another baby within three years—I found herself a widowed mom before age 30. Hours after losing my 34-year-old husband to cancer, I cried out, “What am I supposed to do?” and someone said, “You just be a mom.” What a simple phrase to encompass the hardest job to do alone that carries such a heavy weight and responsibility. What a simple phrase in response to the question of figuring out how to merely survive the first months and years of widowhood inside caverns of grief. But this phrase catapulted me into finding out, how do I be “Just a mom??” How do I tackle this huge responsibility all on my own?
The darker, deeper and more narrow the lonely grief journey path became, the more I realized the need for advocacy for widowed parents of young children who were also caregivers to his/her terminally ill spouse. I experienced first-hand the incredible need a widowed parent has for someone to walk beside and encourage them through a unique situation that many young families shouldn’t, and don’t, expect to find themselves in until much later in life. The need for compassion, empathy, patience—someone who “gets it.” The complicated nature of grief and widowhood, coupled with raising small children (who are going through their own grieving process) single-handedly can be the loneliest place on earth. I pray my story—through brutal honesty and transparency—will provide a platform for others in similar situations to share, and to remind them and myself that we’re not alone.
Through talking to other single parents who have found themselves raising children alone, I know that no matter how the situation is played out, raising kids single-handedly is a huge challenge. As I was raised by a single mom myself, through divorce, I pray also, that my story can encourage you, single mom/dad through divorce, abandonment etc., to share your journey’s story, and to see what I’m seeing—glimmers that being “Just a mom (or dad)” is so much more empowering now, seeing it from God’s perspective. We can be the overcomers of loneliness, despair and loss, and give ourselves permission to grieve, to hope, and to be.
– Nicole Hastings