Parenting is hard. It is definitely a two-person job that requires tremendous cooperation, meticulous planning, and endless flexibility.
When you become a single parent, you are solely responsible for every aspect of those precious children in your care. You are responsible for their physical well-being, their emotional stability, their spiritual growth.
And, you are solely responsible for juggling their sometimes crazy schedules with your own.
Such was my day on Monday.
Monday was a holiday from school for my kids, but it was a normal work-day for me. Despite not having classes, my boys still had basketball practice—right in the middle of the day.
It might not be such a bad thing if I worked close to home. But, I don’t. Instead, the kids’ school is 10 miles west of my home. I work 20 miles east of my home. That is a one-hour round-trip (at least) to get from work to school and back to work.
I am blessed, however. My parents are close (they actually live next door). They are so wonderful to step up and help me with chauffeuring kids to all of their activities on days like this. So, as I normally would, I ran next door to see if they could help me.
As I walked in the door at my parents’ house, I knew there was a problem. My dad was lying on the couch, writhing in pain. He had been to the doctor last week with his back, but instead of getting better, he was worse. Much worse. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t sit. He could barely talk through the pain. He needed a doctor, and he needed a doctor now.
After much cajoling by my mom, my brother, and myself, we convinced him to go to the emergency room. He managed to get to the vehicle, and off my parents went.
I was alone. Very alone. Contemplating my situation. Do I call in sick at work? Do I make my kids miss their basketball practices? How can I possibly juggle it all?
Have I mentioned that I am blessed with a great job? Have I mentioned that I’m blessed with a great boss?
My job allows me tremendous flexibility. I am able to do many tasks remotely as long as I have my phone and my computer. The only thing I can’t do is physically see a patient and visit with the family.
I called my boss and explained my situation. We agreed that I would take my phone and computer and do what I could as I juggled my parents and my kids. He would step in and help where needed. With that, I was set to manage my day.
My kids were actually two hours away at their dad’s house. I had made it clear that they absolutely had to leave no later than 9:00 am so they would have time to get home, let Blake get his things together for practice, and still get into town on time for practice.
At 9:20, they had not left for home.
Yet another dilemma. Blake would either be late for practice, or I needed to find an alternative plan. And, I was quite certain that the kids had probably not eaten yet. A 15 year-old boy going without a meal—especially before an hour and a half intense workout—was a recipe for disaster.
That settled it. I packed Blake’s things for basketball practice. I sent a quick text message to inform their dad I was driving 30 miles southwest to Chickasha to meet the kids. And off I went on my crazy escapade.
My work phone was ringing constantly. Emails were piling up. I was driving like a mad-lady.
I pulled in at Chickasha and began to respond to emails and text messages as I waited on my kids. When they pulled up, I quickly jumped out and moved to the passenger seat (did I mention Blake now has a driver’s permit?). We pulled out and began the 25 mile trek due north to Tuttle.
As I suspected, the kids had not eaten. The food options in Tuttle are quite limited, so we ran in the local grocery store, and I bought a quick meal of deli chicken strips for the kids. While they were eating, I had my computer out looking over my referrals for the day.
When Blake finished eating, we dashed across town to the high school for practice. I let him out, and I took the other two back to the house. We jumped out, and Cassie began her homework while I returned phone calls and worked on the computer. Cole was getting ready for his basketball game and practice scheduled for later in the day.
I had managed to find a friend who could bring Blake home after practice which saved me nearly an hour. Cassie went to a friend’s house for an hour or so, and Cole made the 25 minute drive to the hospital with me. We rushed in, I saw a couple of patients and touched base with a few people before rushing right back out the door to go home.
As we headed home, I had Cole dial his brother and sister.
“You have 15 minutes to be in the driveway waiting for me,” I not-so-kindly informed them.
We pulled in at the house, loaded up the other two kids, and off we went back to school. I dropped Cole off at school for his basketball practice while I took the other two for a not-so-nutritious fast-food meal at Sonic. By this time, I realized that I had fed the kids earlier but had failed to eat anything myself. I was just a little hungry.
After a quick bite to eat, we went back to the school for the evening’s ball games. I went straight to the bleachers where I once again pulled out my computer. For the next hour and a half (by this time it was 5:00 pm), I sat in the bleachers, reviewing patients, taking phone calls, handling crises.
There was an hour between Cole’s and Blake’s games. I used the time to run Cole across town for his fast-food feast and to run in the grocery store for dog food. (Did I mention I am dog-sitting for my brother, and two border collie puppies eat a lot more than our one border collie? At least my human kids were fed on time.)
Basketball games were finally over around 8:00 pm, and I was exhausted! We ran home to shower, pack lunches, brush our teeth, feed the dogs, and check on my dad. Dad was home, resting somewhat more comfortably until he can get an appointment with the surgeon. Somehow, someway, we survived the day.
God gave me the grace to make it through yet another hectic day.
It’s much like this season of life. I never really know what life will throw at me. I never know when I will have to change my plans to meet the realities of life. Normal is nothing like what I ever planned. The one thing I can always predict is that the best made plans will probably be changed by some unexpected event.
But the one constant is that God’s grace is always sufficient to get me through. My Great I AM will meet my every need exactly when I need it. He will carry me through whatever life throws at me.
And, he will carry you through as well. Wherever you are, it is a season. It is a season with a beginning and an end. The end may not be anywhere in sight. But God tells us that these struggles won’t last forever (1 Peter 5:10). It also says that our God will be more than enough.
The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does! 1 Peter 5:10-11