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Single Mom vs. Pickle Jar: The Struggle Is Real

Single Mom vs. Pickle Jar: The Struggle Is Real BLOOMING ON A BUDGET

When I first became a single mom, I was completely overwhelmed with the challenge…and completely unwilling to admit it.  I was absolutely determined to maintain a sense of normalcy for my children and refused to admit defeat. (I’m stubborn that way.)  I was just going to find a way to make it through.  Failure is not an option when you have two little ones counting on you and I was secretly terrified.

To anyone who inquired about how we were doing, I simply responded with the same stoic answer that I had been using to try to convince everyone (myself included) that I was a strong, independent young woman who would be fine on her own: “I can open my own pickle jar.  We’ll be okay.”

I was especially surprised that neighbors offered to help with anything we might need.  I didn’t take their offers at face value until I would do something simple like raising the hood of my car to check my oil before a neighbor would walk over to make sure I wasn’t having a more serious car problem.

One neighbor was especially sweet and had helped us install a few things when we had first moved in.  He had always been a genuinely open-hearted guy.  He had stopped by several times to check in and assure me that he and his wife were only a phone call away if I needed anything, even just to talk.  I assured him I would be fine, as I had done with everyone else.  And I tried really hard to be fine.  I did.

It wasn’t long after that I found myself needing help (of all things) opening a jar.  In that moment, it hit me how alone I was and how overwhelmed I was.  I composed myself, sighed, and headed to their house.  He was working in his garage when I walked up to him, handed him the jar and said “I can’t do this”.  Tears started brimming, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I was still talking about opening the jar or the prospect of single parenting.  He put his arms around me and held me together while I finally gave into falling apart and showed me that he was there for me… but he only thought he was opening a jar for a neighbor and giving her a hug.  (And his wife didn’t mind, I promise.)

So many years later, this moment still touches my heart and I am still amazed by how a small act of kindness can make such a big difference.  Perhaps it had only been that I needed the safety of someone’s embrace to finally stop spending all my energy trying to ignore my fear and pain.  Whatever it was, relief flooded over me at the thought that- in that moment- I wasn’t alone.

We all have the opportunity every day to make little miracles happen.  Small kindnesses can make all the difference if we just keep our hearts open to others.  The guy in the grocery store that can’t find the lemon juice may have recently lost his wife, who always did the shopping.  That mom in Target with the screaming toddler probably hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in months (or years).  The repeat wrong number that keeps calling you back may be dialing through tears because they are fighting their own battle.

We all are.  You can help.



HELPFUL TIP:  If your battle does include a pickle jar, a pair of rubber gloves works well to give you enough traction to open the jar.

12 thoughts on “Single Mom vs. Pickle Jar: The Struggle Is Real

  1. What a blessing that you are surrounded by friends and neighbors who actually mean it when they offer their help and companionship. That is so great! I have been focusing on being intentional like that with people in my life- that rather than saying “how can I help?” I just jump in and do something. I think that if everyone did that it would make more of a difference than we’ll ever know. I have friends who do that for me and I’m trying to follow their example!
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  2. What a great message and reminder to keep in mind the people you meet everyday might just need a little compassion. Beautiful story!

  3. Wow! I’m not a single parent, but I wish I had neighbors like that! Also, I find that gently tapping the edge of the lid with a butter knife works great when I get a stubborn jar that won’t open lol.

  4. I love this. And I’m so happy that you found someone to give you the small thing you needed to get through. I think that we are all pieces of a bigger puzzle, sometimes our job is to open the pickle jar, and that’s it. But that is the missing piece to finish the puzzle, to open doors, to help someone through. So, find the time to locate the lemon juice, give hugs, support, a smile. You never know when this could be the moment that changes someone’s life!

  5. Okay, you made me cry! I love a group called Random Acts. They encourage people to do random acts of kindness. They have big projects, but everyday they have encouragement to go out and just do simple kindnesses. They give out small grants to help people who have cool ideas of how to help their communities.

    1. You only cried happy tears, I hope. That sounds like a great group! I think perhaps most people don’t think they can make a difference, but it really is about the little things that make a big difference.

  6. What a sweet neighbor to offer you assistance and support when needed. I’m sure that took lots of courage to go and ask for help but we all need help! It’s a hard pill to swallow when we can’t do something ourselves. Good tip about the pickle jar! It sounds weird but I heard that if you bang the jar upside down (lightly) on the floor and then try opening it, it works!

  7. What a beautiful post and I am not a single mom but with the hours my husband works I might as well be. So I totally understand not being able to open the Pickle Jar. Have a Blessed week and I appreciate you sharing this with us.

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