Gateway PhotoArtistry™ | What I Learned from My Single Mother

What I Learned from My Single Mother

May 09, 2012  •  3 Comments

I have always had compassion for single parents, but especially single mothers.  With Mother's Day rapidly approaching, I always think about the sacrifices my mother made as a single mom.  Beginning at the age of five and almost three, for my sister and me respectively, my mother was a single parent for more than seven years.  It was especially difficult on her because it was during the 1960's when divorce was still taboo.  There are a multitude of reasons why people decide to divorce, and no matter what the reason is, becoming a single parent is one of the most daunting and challenging roles an adult can have.

My sister, Kim (standing), my mom and me in 1967. 
For one thing, finances are nearly always difficult.  With the help of her older brother, my mother was able to keep us from the bankruptcy caused by my father's purchasing indiscretions, but I'm sure it wasn't easy.  Thanks to her college education and military experience as an Air Force officer, my mother was able to get a good job.  Somehow, we were able to survive financially, though I guess we didn't have a lot of "extras."  To be honest, I really didn't notice.  I was happy with what I had.  When she got us to a place where we were financially stable, she wouldn't hesitate to help someone else in need.
My mother was able to advance her career, but not without a price.  She had to hire a full-time or live-in childcare giver for us while she worked, and there was no such thing as a "background check" then.  She had to go on recommendations, her instincts and her budget.  Not all single mothers have a higher education or job experience.  It's not impossible to get, just really hard to achieve and takes much longer when kids have the highest priority.  
Single mothers are faced with a dual role they weren't meant to have -- father and mother.  Creating house rules, making disciplinary decisions, and being a role model is left to a mother to figure out and establish.  For those single moms with sons, the question always is: How can I be a strong, male role model for my sons when I'm a woman?
What I can imagine now as a mother myself that I was completely ignorant of because of my mother's wisdom and fortitude was how she always appeared in control and shielded us from these challenges she faced.  Many single parents today treat their children, even teenage children, as their equals which puts too much pressure and responsibility on them.  My mother was the parent, acted like the parent and treated us as her dependents, not her BF's.  That's exactly why we do have good relationships with our mother now because she made "tough parent" decisions like having curfews, giving us chores and expecting us to respect her.  It was her job to be our parent, and her hope was we would be her friends when we were adults.  She was right!  
What I learned from my mother who was a single mom for a good part of my youth was to lay down reasonable rules, expect my children to treat me and others with respect, and set a good example as a compassionate, giving person.  Most importantly and above all, my mother taught me to trust the Lord and pray for His help and guidance.  If it wasn't for her, my sister and I wouldn't be followers of Jesus, and I wouldn't know the height, width, depth and length of God's eternal love for me.  
"A Mother Is…," a new addition to my "pho-etry" photography collection, comes from a poem I wrote for my mom when I was in high school or college.  I've made a few changes for flow and emphasis but it's pretty much the same.  I put it with a picture I took last year of my George Tabor azalea bush in my backyard.  You can see and purchase it off of my website by clicking on this link  If you live locally, I can get it to you by Mother's Day.
Treat your mother well on Mother's Day!  More than likely, she deserves it more than you know. 

If you'd like to purchase the "pho-etry" print mentioned above, follow this link  The photograph and poem are my copyright.  Please do not copy the photograph or the poem unless it is part of this blog post.  You are welcome to follow the link and purchase it through my website.  Thank you so much for your cooperation. 


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by Gena Buskirk-Ford, Gateway PhotoArtistry ™, owner/photographer/writer
Northeast Atlanta area


Ruth Ann Cassis(non-registered)
Thank you a million for that wonderful tribute! I am single mom of 9 and it is a very hard road! I especially appreciated your saying it was your mom telling you it was all through God's strength she was able, and the faith that encouraged in her daughters! Of course that is the only thing that matters, and what through God's grace I pray and work toward daily as I live before and teach my children! Such an encouragment!
Cindy Nichols(non-registered)
My mom had a similar story except she didn't have an education. Worked at the local dairy for 12 cents an hour because she was a woman. It was a tough time for her and my older sister and brother. So yes, I applaud single moms. It's the hardest job in the world!!
Tammy Tilley(non-registered)
Gena B, you capture the beautiful strength of mothers--and YOUR mother--in photo and words. Softens my heart, girl! Love ya!
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