How Did I Not See This Coming? Surprising Sympathy at the Single Moms Retreat

It should have been obvious. I should have seen it coming. I should have been prepared with a box of tissue infused with lotion.

But, there I was, tissueless.

The Friday evening of the retreat we were treated with a Sara Groves concert. I love Sara Groves. Her storytelling lyrics are musical poetry that speaks to the soul (it deserves a better sentence than that too).

My boutique cohorts and I sat towards the back of the crowd, overlooking 500 single mothers.

It was then that it hit me.

I was looking at a sea of woman hurt by loss, rejection, and abuse.

I knew I would be hit with a tsunami of emotions, so I had prepared myself by putting up some sort of wall. It stood right beneath the surface to keep the gross input of potential feelings at bay.

But as the music began, and I looked over the woman in that room I couldn’t hold it in.

I have a pretty large imagination (too large really), but I knew it was no stretch to imagine to pain that these women had felt and are feeling in their lives.

As a former single mother I knew the pain and shame of rejection. I remember clearly trying so hard to do everything right and to please in every way the father of oldest son in an attempt to keep him from leaving me. In the end he still chose someone else. I remember driving around town for a couple of hours just so my babysitter wouldn’t realize that I had been stood up because I couldn’t bare the embarrassment.

As a single mother I remember abuse. I was stalked for a couple of years after my oldest daughter’s birth. I remember a drug addicted biological father holding a gun to my face as I held my infant daughter. I remember the fear I had, not for me, but for my daughter. Would today be the day he found me again and stole my baby away from me?

As the daughter of a widow I remember seeing the pain that loss brought her. The loneliness that she felt, the anger she had at the husband who left her alone with 2 kids and a failing business.

I couldn’t get over it. I started praying, hoping that I could allow myself to open up to their personal stories. Up until then I had stood an arms length away.

I know for myself that I didn’t like to be looked at like some sort of victim, or reject. So I needed try at least try to do the same for them.

I’m not going to say I was spot on, I still teared up and I’m sure I had the ugliest face in the world as I tried to hold back tears.

But I wanted these woman, especially in the boutique to feel as though they were wealthy woman of luxury able to afford for themselves anything in the store. I was the lowly shop keep, helping build outfits and offering suggestions.

It may seem lame, I don’t know, maybe it is.

But for a woman to have a chance to feel like a woman, even if just for a weekend, can be a start on the road to healing.

Friday I’ll talk a bit about the boutique itself, and I even have a video! (I know, it’s been a while)


How About You?

Do you know a single mom who could use a good dose of sympathy?

What things have you done or do you think you can do to help a single mother, without treating her like a victim?


Don’t Forget!

You can follow me on Twitter @EstherAspling and like me on Facebook HERE.

See you next time!
Esther :-)

2 thoughts on “How Did I Not See This Coming? Surprising Sympathy at the Single Moms Retreat”

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  2. Good post, as usual, Esther. I think – therefore I could be mistaken :) – that you, like myself, and so many others, need to know it is OK to remember where we came from and never lose sight of those experiences. Christ saw people, He had compassion, He met their needs. We are to do the same, and we cannot do that from a stand-off position; we have to take the risks associated with loving people right where they are. You did that. It is also OK to sometimes keep our emotions in check; I don’t get weepy and blubber at everything that I could, else I would not be able to help someone because I was allowing my emotions to rule – but as soon as I can find a safe space to let go, whether I’m around people of like mind or totally alone, I let the tears of empathy surface and the sobs break forth.

    It is OK to be human – you have a right to grieve over abuse, and be bothered by it, and to rejoice with one another that you (and others) have been lifted out of your worst experiences.

    Thanks for sharing!

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