Through bleary eyes I quickly and clumsily fumble through the morning routine with my three kids, five days a week before school. Without coffee in my system (no time to get to that until after I’m sitting in the car) I attempt to rouse them out of slumber, tie shoe-laces, find lost library books, herd them to the car, and get them safely to school (a 15 minute drive). Most mornings, we will have a snag or two–an argument, a missing back pack, a kid who just does NOT want to get out of her warm bed. I have learned to anticipate and get through these snags relatively stress-free. Not this morning, though.

Littlest Girl, who is five, stays in bed until the last possible second. She is not in school yet, so while I am scrambling to get the older two ready, she soaks in all the time she possibly can nestled in her warm bed. This morning, as we scrambled out the door, Littlest Girl refused to walk to the car barefoot because it was raining. (She had not put her shoes on–generally speaking, she goes barefoot in the mornings and I am ok with this.) As I scooped her up, the coffee I had precariously balanced in my hand (along with the keys and my purse) tipped and spilled down my jacket sleeve. Such a small inconvenience, really, but it set me off. After snapping at Littlest Girl, I began to cool down on the way to school. Was it even her fault? Channel Cher from Clueless and say it with me: As if! I realized I was taking out my frustrations of spilled coffee on Littlest Girl.

Beth Moore says,

“The more self-absorbed and detached we become, the more we mistake annoyances for agonies. It happens to all of us. I often tell myself to get a grip and downsize how I’ve blown up a comparatively small problem.”

This is from ESTHER: It’s Tough Being a Woman, by Beth Moore. And this quote was found in the chapter I read today for my daily study.

Isn’t this SO true? While my coffee example is a small one, I can think of countless times I’ve let something insignificant send me into a tailspin, and oftentimes I take it out on those I love the most.

Time to stop it, Mama. Time for me to remove my head from my rear and put a roadblock of gentleness, patience, and calm between my brain and my mouth. Annoyances do not equal Agonies, ever. I am too blessed to let a little spilled coffee steal my joy.

Be joyful always…give thanks in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16

I read some wonderful advice on a blog awhile back: If we expect that annoyances will happen (because let’s be real–they will!), our mindset will change and we will be more able to fully embrace joy. Joy happens when we put set our minds on Jesus alone–When we expect a little snafu to come here and there, then those snafus cannot steal our joy. They lose their power. The power now lies in Jesus. We can give thanks in ALL circumstances! Spilled coffee means I have coffee to perk me up. My barefoot daughter in my arms means I have a little lovey to carry. I am truly blessed. We are all truly blessed.

Combating Loneliness as a Single Mother

When I first divorced and became a single mom, it wasn’t just a husband I lost. Because of my personal situation, I lost my church community and many friends after my divorce. It was absolutely devastating, and for a long time I felt extremely lonely and depressed. Not only did I live with the guilt of being half of the monster that split my own childrens’ parents up, I had very few local friends who stuck around to help me through my grieving process.

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Yes, I said grieving process. Recently divorced people grieve, even if the divorce is mutual, and ESPECIALLY if there are children involved. In fact, there are times now, three years later, that I still grieve over what was lost in the un-coupling of my childrens’ parents. I still wonder what the effects will be on those sweet kiddos now that they are raised in two houses instead of one. But to dwell in the past is pointless, so I keep my head up and keep doing the best I can with what I have to go with now.

It’s Lonely Being a Single Mother

Back to my point: Life can be tough for a single mother. It can be solitary and heartbreaking. At times I felt so completely alone, even while I was mothering my most precious children. Looking back now on the times that my heart was wrenched with loneliness, regret, sadness and more, I can’t even believe I was so low during that time. But I am so AMAZED at what God has done for me, and I am so happy with my life now. I still have that handful of true friends who stuck by me when the world didn’t, I have my kids who are growing healthy and strong despite multiple life strains, I still have my parents who are hours away but love me and my kids and pray for us, and I have found the most wonderful man whose genuine love permeates my very soul, daily.

And, the most amazing thing is that through everything–my sins, my shame, my trials, my poor choices, my loneliness, the times I fought with God for allowing me to be in that dark place, the times when I tried to do it all on my own without God’s help–He was STILL there, rooting for me, waiting for me to turn my eyes back to Him.come to meAs a single mother who was once lonely, depressed, and doing it all completely on her own, I know it can be hard to reach out. It’s hard to admit that we are lonely, and that we need help! But do it. It’s worth it, trust me! Here are some ideas, some more obvious than others, but sometimes we just need that push to do something we are hesitant to do.

Combat the Loneliness

If you have friends around you already, that’s a great place to start. Tell them you need a girls night. Have it at your house if need be. Sometimes the people around us are completely willing to be there for us, they just don’t know how to be and they need us to show them. You might be surprised to find that one or two of your girlfriends will thank you for reaching out to them.

If you have preschoolers, join a MOPS group. Seriously, you will not regret it. It is a faith based organization, but don’t let that scare you off if you are not a believer! You would be hard pressed to find another more loving group of women to surround yourself with. They provide childcare, mentoring, fun activities just for moms, and more! Find yourself a local MOPS group here. Get yourself over to the MOPS website here.

Visit blogs and websites with information you can relate to. One site I found by accident during one of my roughest periods is Not Consumed. Kim, the author, is a single mother who has loads of great articles on coping, motherhood, faith, raising children, and life in general. She even has a section just for single moms. Go and read up, and be comforted by the realization that you’re truly NOT ALONE!

Find a group to volunteer with. Your kids can be involved, as well. What a great way for your children to learn humility, and volunteering just might boost your mood, too! Check Craigslist for volunteer opportunities, or even do a Facebook search for local volunteer organisations. Sometimes taking our mind off our own struggles to help others with theirs works wonders in our lives.

Being a single mom and doing it all alone can seem like an impossible job. I know many mothers who look back on their time as a single mom and wonder how they even did it all. I encourage you, single moms, to get out in the world and partner up with those around you. Doing life together makes it so much better!!