My dear friend once said something that I've never forgotten...I was lamenting about the heartache in my children's lives due to the broken home...she said "Amanda, this will be Sydney's salvation. We live in a broken world. ALL children will have brokenness to deal with..." I have pondered that over the last few years. Prayed over it...read the statistics of the fatherless...spoken the word specifically over my girls...and I've come to some conclusions...
1. In our lives, single parenting is a gift and we will view it no other way. In my home, we discuss the pain as it arrives from not having a live-in father. But, we do not lament that we have any less of a life. We have each other. We are blessed. We don't live in Sudan as refugees. We aren't hungry. We are loved and sheltered. We DO NOT lament.
2. We have a Father: His name is Jesus. He is enough. When we cry, we go to Him. When we need answers, we go to Him. When we celebrate, we include Him. We are NOT fatherless. We are fathered by the almighty. He is MORE than enough.
3. We tell the truth. Always. Even when it hurts. I allow my children to spill their hearts out. Bleeding. Sometimes sinful, always human to me...Truth sets us free. It liberates. We tell the truth. Then we sort through it piece by piece.
4. We live grateful. We don't long for large homes. We don't long for material possessions. We live grateful. (Of course, long way to go here for all three. I admit there are some Vintage boots I lust after...I digress) This has incurred a deep sense of maturity within the girls that they are satisfied mostly with enough. They are conscious of high prices and do not ask for much. They are quick to give away money and possessions. This makes me happy.
5. We marvel. When we pull up to the bus stop, we marvel at the pink strewn sunny sky. When we see glorious old trees bent through the years, we exclaim "How beautiful!" Wonderment leads us outside of ourselves and into the realm of gratitude. Wonderment reminds us that beauty is all around and does not have to be purchased. Wonderment.
6. I allow my children to see me fail and I apologize. I'd love to say I never raise my voice, never get stressed, always appear as calm as the virgin Mary...yeah it doesn't happen that way. But when I catch myself caught in the stress of humanity and I unnecessarily find myself hard, unkind, ungentle...I apologize. I want my children to know that I am not perfect. Because I want them to know they don't have to be either. So. I say I failed. I say I'm sorry. Then I try to do better.
7. I involve others to nurture and speak into my children. They need more than me. I'm totally OK with this. I do not feel threatened in the slightest to allow others to show my girls different thoughts and ways of life. They need more than me. I'm grateful for any and all love they receive in this life. Life is tough. It takes a village.
8. I hold my children responsible. Just because they are from a single parent home does not mean they can grow up and be free loaders. I mean...I have plans ya know...they can't live with me till they die! I hold them accountable for their chores, their homework, their assigned responsibilities. If they are lax, I don't bail them out. Part of growing up is learning that we are responsible for our life's trajectory. Life is fun...but life also is work.
9. We are required to have fun. Always. I am a firm believer that childhood should be unencumbered by adult issues and problems. I have always tried to shield my kids from unnecessary stress and heartaches. I want them to be kids. I want them to play outside till they are 82.7. You get one childhood. I want theirs to last and I don't want them wearing booty shorts at 12 (or 40 for that matter). I want them to love being kids and not try to grow up too fast. Life is short enough. Have fun.
10. Yes. We are different. We will walk in our "differentness" and delight in the one who made us this way. I encourage individuality within each of my girls. If it's not hurting anyone, and they are merely expressing their God given uniqueness, I try to say yes. We've had pink hair streaks, black nails, mismatched clothing...the list goes on...They tried it, they got it out of their system, they know I support their individuality. This is extremely important to me. I want my children to be able to make the choice to live in the box or throw away the box. I'll love them either way.
I know that single parenting is one of the most intricate, tiring, thankless jobs in the world. But I truly believe it's one of the most rewarding. Every time I hold my baby girl and she tells me "I'd never want any other mom but you. You're the best..."I'm rewarded. Every time I have deep discussions with my oldest about literature...heart issues...and I see that she is becoming my friend not just my child..I'm rewarded.
If you are a single parent, flip your theology: Try seeing single parenthood as a gift.
Thank God for whatever it was that he might be saving you and your darlings from and keep trucking.
Cry on the hard days.
Marvel on the good ones.
But know: You ARE different. Different is good. You've got a lot going for you. I'm rooting for you. I'm praying for you. I'm with you. You've got an amazing Father in your corner. It will be worth it all. You're the creme de la creme. God's word shows He has a strong passion for the fatherless. He's rooting for you too. Keep truckin'.
Grace n Peace,