Since I’ve been on a month long break from classes, I’ve gotten to watch different movies with my husband (when classes are in session, movie nights come on an infrequent basis). Recently, we watched Mom’s Night Out, which was hilarious! It was a fun movie to watch, with several memorable characters. As you can probably guess from the title, the movie focused a lot on motherhood and the dignity of mothers. One of the major characters that the movie focused on was a young single mother. I was super excited about this fact, because throughout the movie, you see different sides to her character and motherhood. I feel like many times, in daily life and conversations, you don't get a very positive image of single moms. Watching this movie spurred me to reflect on the handful or so of single moms who I have known or worked with over the past several years.
As I reflected on these women, I’ve come to realize just how amazing they are. I’m not saying this to glorify fornication; I know and believe that sexual intercourse is made for marriage, and it deeply saddens me when anyone has sex outside of marriage. (Though I need to point out that we can't automatically assume that every pregnant, single woman we meet willingly got pregnant out of wedlock. Abuse and rape are sad realities for many women). I think a lot of times, though, people get all weird around single women who are pregnant or have young children. It is one thing when people are praying and talking with women outside an abortion clinic, but when single mothers wind up in our classrooms, parishes, and workplaces, many people can interact with them inappropriately. Either trying to do a “standoffish” approach or a “let me reminder you continually that fornication is a sin” approach is completely out of line and uncalled for. Single mothers are living, breathing, human beings—why don’t we act like it more often? I think it’s important that we reverence and recognize the beauty, sacrifice, and love that many single moms possess. I want to share with y’all some of the different ways in which single mothers I have known have inspired me:
Perseverance. I’m not—nor have ever been—pregnant, but I’ve been told that it’s tough work. Same thing with raising a child after birth. Both are beautiful, joyful things, but full of sacrifices and hardships. Add “young teenager” and “unmarried” to the mix, and that adds to the struggle. And how about all the pressure society places on them to have an abortion? That’s huge—and they still persevere. One of my Catholic friends, when she was pregnant out of wedlock, told me that even though she was very pro-life, she still felt the tremendous pressure that abortion advocates create.
Courage. While in high school, I was a always blown away when I would see a classmate walk into Mass on Sunday with her baby (either in her arms, baby carrier, or still in her very pregnant belly). That takes guts, especially knowing that some people—even though they shouldn’t—will stare and start thinking about how “she didn’t save sex for marriage.” And these women still come to the feet of Our Lord—with their beautiful children.
Hardworking. I’ve been blessed to work at restaurants with single moms (and, on one occasion, a single dad!), and these people are amazing. Despite the fact that they never made a huge amount of money, they worked hard to provide for their children. These women would tell me about their children proudly, as they sacrificed being at home to make a living. When a woman’s child would come in with a relative to see his or her mom, I would see such tender love and affection from my coworker.
Humility. A few years ago, one of my coworkers found out that she was pregnant, and had no clue what to do. She was not afraid to admit to me that she needed help, and humbly accepted my suggestions and recommendations for crisis pregnancy centers. Furthermore, this woman had the humility to put her child first. When she first became pregnant, she didn’t talk with me about how it would change her life, but instead focused on what she needed to do for her child—getting on Medicaid, finding a way to provide for the baby after birth, etc.
The Present Moment. All of the single moms I’ve known have shown me what it means to live in the present moment. They can’t live in past regrets and what was; they accept what is, and they try their hardest to be the best moms they can be. These moms don’t let themselves be defined by a mistake they made, but they embrace and nurture the life that came forth.
Sacrifice. Some women choose adoption, and others choose to raise their children as single moms. I think both options are awesome, and I am in complete support of a woman doing what she discerns God wants her to do (In fact, one of my friends, while she was pregnant, had a huge discernment to do—she wanted to raise the child, but didn’t know if God wanted her to put her baby up for adoption or not. God very clearly showed her to raise the child, and she did-and continues to do-this beautifully). Either way, there’s going to be a huge sacrifice on her part. Whether or not a woman chooses to raise her child or put it up for adoption, we must recognize the beautiful sacrifices that a mother makes for her baby.
I know it can be tempting to, when finding out a single woman is a mother (pregnant or has a born child), to automatically start judging her parenting methods, her decisions, and her past. Do you really think this will help anyone? Love these women for who they are, not for the mistakes they’ve possibly made. Offer them a helping hand of love and compassion; show them that they are not alone. God desires all of His children to live in the fullness of love, purity, and truth—so let’s strive for this together, and recognize the dignity and presence of God in each and every person we meet.