Dear Single Parent, I know your struggle.
Those who love a single parent, please know their struggle.
I sit here and write this raw post after 9 pm because I know it’s one of the few times I’m available. On a Friday night, to boot. I realize this post won’t reach all of my demographics, but it’s a topic on my heart. These days if you aren’t a single parent, you likely know one or many.
The kids are in bed, or at least in their rooms, and I’ve finally been able to sit down. Alone, at last. And at peace with the sound of the washer humming in the background and cat purring loudly from a cozy spot on the couch. I’m an employee and coworker by day; mom, drill sergeant, chef, taxi driver, and caregiver by night. I’m exhausted. With dependents relying on me, there has been no other option but to survive. I’ve been a 24/7 single mom for over a decade, since the age of 24. In my reality, there are no every-other-weekend or mid-week breaks. From toddler to teen years, every day. I cherish the evenings, it gives me a few hours to recoup, recharge and prepare for the next day so that I can be the healthiest mom I can be. A better mom.
There was a point in my life where I felt guilty about enjoying those moments of alone time. I felt guilty about a lot of things; going on a girl’s night out, watching something on TV that I wanted to watch, dating, missing school events, not having time to put the kids in sports, and the list could go on. And on, and on. One day my kids would think I was the best mom ever, the next I was their enemy. Everyone had advice and opinions to offer on how I should raise kids, make decisions, or be single. Although most were well-meaning, it was so overwhelming trying to keep up with pleasing others and living up to expectations placed on me, even by strangers. The expectations of the world, of the church, of family and friends. How could I keep my kids, and everyone else happy? This exhausted me more than the single parent gig.
So I stopped. But not without struggle or hardship, it took a lot of motivation and relying on God. Without my faith I’m not sure how I could have done it. Then, or even now. Being able to still care about people, but not care about pleasing everyone is extremely hard. I’ve cared about what people have thought about me since before I can even remember. I’ve spent hours and hours of time dwelling on how I should handle situations outside of my control that I thought I could control by doing what others expected of me. What I learned is that it is impossible. The reality is you will never fully be able to please everyone, including your children. It’s exhausting to try.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
How can we please both people and God? According to this verse in Galatians, we can’t. It’s a hard truth and lesson to learn. Oh, but how freeing it is to finally get to the point of releasing your decisions solely to God. Depending on Him and Him only to help determine those things. Some of my favorite moments have been spent sitting in my bed alone in silence, just listening. With no other voices, no sounds, and no distractions – just me and God. It took me 30 years to learn what it meant to hear from God. I had to quiet the noise around me to discover this; all the outside influences, the people, the life noises.
Some call it meditation. Through my faith, I call it hearing God. I still struggle with decision making and getting through the mom-life, I still need reminders and sometimes I fail to quiet the noise around me. I’ve made decisions others don’t understand. But with choosing to go with God’s lead I’ve been blessed. Beyond blessed! It’s okay to quiet the noise around you, it’s okay to politely thank the well-meaning bits of advice and then not take it, and it’s okay to not keep up with what society expects of you. It’s become okay to me because I know that if I’ve asked God to do it for me, then He’s got it when I don’t.