September 1, 2017.
The day is coming quickly, the day I will stand before God and pledge my love and my life to the one God has chosen for me.
It’s also the day I turn in the title “single mom,” a title I have worn for well over eight years. I have to admit that it’s difficult to let someone else into this part of my life, to step back and let someone help me with the chauffeuring and supporting and disciplining and everything else that goes into single parenting. I’m so used to doing it all, I sometimes struggle with allowing him to help me.
As we embark on this new chapter of attempting to blend two very different families—complete with five teenagers and all kinds of hormones and chaos—I find myself reflecting on the last decade. Single parenting is hard—really hard. But I hope my kids have learned some lessons along the way, lessons they probably learned better from being in a single-parent home than they would have in a traditional two-parent home.
Maybe I am just being sentimental as I reflect on the last decade. Maybe I am attempting to prepare myself to give up some of the duties I have clung to so tightly. Maybe I am also realizing I have a senior in high school, only five years left with children in my home. Maybe all the change is hitting me harder than I realized. (I have to remind myself that I prayed for a change of season last year…)
As I begin to move forward, these are some of the lessons I hope my children have learned during the season of single parenting.
Sacrifice. I walked through my divorce after ten years of being a stay-at-home mom. I was just beginning a new career, a season where we would have become a dual-income family. Financial margin was just over the horizon…when my life crashed. I was forced to start at the bottom, barely scraping by.
Over the years, my income has increased drastically. God has definitely been good to us. But, living on a single income is tough. It has required great sacrifices from all of us. We have had to pick and choose many things, making sure we stretch our dollars as far as we can. And the beauty? My kids have such grateful spirits. When I get the opportunity to do something special for them, they are so appreciative. They make my heart proud.
Work ethic. My kids have watched as I have busted my tail for years. I always try to go the extra mile. Even on weekends when I’m not on call, I keep my phone just in case I am needed.
And then there’s keeping up with the house. There’s always something to do (and I am a lousy delegator). I pray my kids have learned to give 100% in all they do.
Better over bitter. I made a decision at the beginning of this journey that I would not let bitterness consume me. I believe we can choose how life will impact us, whether the trials will make us better or bitter.
My kids and I have walked through more in the last decade than anyone should ever have to endure. Last fall, I asked my daughter how she was handling it all, her dad’s death and her sudden diagnosis with epilepsy. She looked at me and just said, “It’s sometimes overwhelming, but I just keep reminding myself that God must have big plans for me if He’s letting me suffer this much.”
Dependence on God. Over the years, we have had to learn to trust God. We have trusted Him for our finances. We have trusted Him with our health. We have trusted Him with our broken hearts and our emotions. We have trusted Him with our future.
I pray my kids have learned that my strength is from God, that I can keep going because He is faithful. I pray they have learned to walk in obedience to Him knowing that He is the source of all good things. I pray my life has been a living testimony of what it means to be dependent on God for all things.
Humility. There was a time when I was prideful. I’m not proud of that fact, but it is a fact. I lived a good life, did all the right things, chose to follow God.
But my “perfect” life made me a prime target for pride. I looked at others walking through marital problems, proud that divorce would never happen to me. I looked at others with disdain, wondering how they could be so blind to the truth.
Walking through the wilderness will do a number on you. When you realize you have become one of “them,” when you can no longer be the rock everyone turns to, when you have to stop and ask others for help, you are stripped of all pride.
And it’s such a beautiful thing!
Love and grace. Our home is full of love and grace, and I hope my children have caught that. We try to be loving, overlooking others’ wrongs. We try to be gracious with others’ faults. We try to treat others the way we want to be treated.
Oh, there’s no doubt there’s conflict especially when life is hard. Christmas Eve was horrible around here, as my kids struggled with grief on their first Christmas without their earthly father. But, in an amazing show of love and grace, my boys had a very tender moment of love and grace after a physical fight.
We have outbursts of emotions, but we always try to cover them with hefty amounts of love and grace.
Atmosphere of peace. Peace was not in abundant supply in our home in the years before our divorce. As a matter of fact, that last year was full of silence and anger and tension.
When we found our place, we also found peace. Our home is normally a place where others enjoy hanging out because there’s very little stress and turmoil. We simply let God’s peace rule over our words, our hearts, our actions. And it makes our home a place we can simply be ourselves.
I pray my kids always have a home that is covered by God’s perfect peace. And I know they will as long as they keep their focus on Him.
It’s amazing how hindsight makes everything so much clearer. While I wouldn’t want anyone to walk through the fires I have, I am so very thankful for how God has used these years to mold us into His image.
Now, onward to the next chapter!