2/9/15

My Prayers For The Single Parent

I'm not a religious person. I was born into the Methodist church, married into the Lutheran one and spent over a decade teaching Sunday school and leading Confirmation groups. At the moment, we are in between churches. In between religions, maybe. The older I get, the more I wonder about higher powers and God and heaven. I question things of a spiritual ilk, but always keep an open mind. Because one thing I've learned in my 48 years on this planet? A closed mind gets stale and stuffy like a windowless room on a baking hot day.

It's my open mind that tells me it's okay to pray. Who am I praying to? God? Maybe. Maybe I'm praying to the ocean or the stars or the spirit of Nora Ephron. Who knows. But I do pray, and quite often. I pray for my children, for my family and for my friends. I pray for the people who live in parts of the world that are being torn apart by war and hate. I pray for animals and ignorant people and the environment. I pray that I get the green lights on the way home and I pray that cancer gets cured and I pray for the strength to avoid eating all of the leftover cheesy bread on pizza night.

Today, I'm praying for single parents. I've been on my own with my kids for over 8 years and I know just how hard it is. I also know that there are moments of intense beauty and happiness and that finding these moments can be difficult at first. I know that at times it seems like you're the only one feeling these emotions, the only one strapped into this insane roller-coaster of a life. And I want to let other single parents know...they aren't alone.

I pray that you, my fellow single parents, find the reserves in your wells of patience and humor. These two resources will be key in your life from now on. When you find yourself at the end of the day, exhausted and frustrated and overwhelmed with nobody to discuss Bobby's acne or Janie's speech delay or the fact that the damn washing machine is making that weird noise again...you will need to draw upon these two things.

I pray that you learn to like, maybe even love, the many hats you're going to be wearing on this journey. You are the breadwinner, the head-of-household, the rule enforcer and the privilege-taker. You're the appointment maker and prescription-filler, the laundress and the chef, the mechanic and the handyman. It's going to suck at first, honestly. Not gonna lie. Your list of to-do's is going to outnumber the hours in your day. But guess what? Somehow, you figure it out. I don't know how it happens, but you just do. You find the extra thirty minutes you need, you scrape up an additional $100 at the end of the month and you create a whole new realm of time management and you get stuff done.

I pray that you come to know the love of good friends. Supportive friends. Friends who may or may not know what you're going through, but are there when you need them. Friends who circle the wagons around you, friends who have your back. Friends who are there with a shoulder to cry on or a pitcher of margaritas when you get one of those rare free nights.

I pray, too, that when you find yourself being judged or stereotyped or shunned (all of which might happen, unfortunately), you remember exactly how strong and how brave and how flexible you've become. Whether you're facing a teacher who thinks kids of single parents are inherently troubled or a fellow baseball mom who looks at you with a weird mixture of fear and loathing, I pray you are able to let it roll off your back.

I pray that if you find yourself in a bind, and need to ask for help, that you are able to do so without shame or embarrassment. I pray that you are able to get the assistance you need, and I also pray that someday, when you're able? You get to know how good it feels to be able to give back.

I pray that if your kids have another parent who is still around, they are involved in their lives. And if the other parent isn't around, or doesn't want to be involved and there is animosity or anger or grief in your heart? I pray that you're able to find peace and forgiveness and acceptance. Parenting is hard when you're doing it solo, even more difficult when you're dragging a grudge behind you as well. (please note that this one can take a while...be patient)

I pray that you figure out whether or not you want or need another partner in life. I pray that if you do decide to join forces with another, that it's good and kind and loving, not only for you but for your children as well. I pray that if you've chosen to stay single for the time being, you learn the difference between being alone and being lonely. Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between the two, but they are as opposite as night and day. I also pray that if you discover all you need is someone to scratch that itch every once in a while, you find someone who is on the same page and that it's a mutually beneficial thing. Hey, we're single. Not dead.

And most of all, I pray that you get some good sleep, stay in good health and experience good things. I pray that you remember to take care of yourself while taking care of your kids. You make sure to change the oil in your car, right? Do the same for your body and mind. I pray, too, that you show yourself the same grace you show others, that you are able to forgive yourself for screwing up once in a while. That you love yourself as hard and as tenderly as your kids love you.

I pray the same thing for you as I do for myself: that our kids end up as happy, productive people. People who had a parent who loved them, a parent who did the best they could.













22 comments:

  1. To look at this photo of you and your precious babies (although I know from reading other posts of yours that they're older now)....I just can't understand why anyone would turn away from you all and try to start a different life without you. There's so much life in all of you and in your smiles. It breaks my heart that there was a man that had the world in his hands and he walked away from it. There are so so many things I can't wrap my brain around and this is definitely one of them. You have done an amazing job as a mom and as a WOMAN in picking up the pieces and thriving. But you should never have had to walk this road. And I'm sorry for that. Your writing is beautiful. Keep on keeping on!

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    1. Thank you, Tara. Funny story: I had this, and a series of other pictures taken during the summer he moved back in with us (while he was trying to decide "should I stay or should I go", ha). There's one picture of me and the kids and I have the saddest look on my face. I remember sitting for these pics, and being so worried and desperate and hoping against all hope that my little family would be okay.

      Turns out he decided to go, but we did end up okay. Like you said, I wish we'd never had to walk down this road but in some ways I'm glad we did.

      Thank you so much for your kind words, and for reading ♥

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  2. Really beautiful. And your kids have done so well, despite all the challenges. You have done a terrific job. I am proud of you and envious of your strength.

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    1. Thank you, thank you! Don't be envious, my friend. We're all pretty freaking strong when we have to be.

      Thanks a million for these kind words.

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  3. Crying again Jenny. I needed this today.
    I pray that I stop feeling so god damn lonely all the time.
    I pray that I can stop this down ward spiral of HATING my ex husband all over again.
    Shouldn't I be over this by now? Coming up on 2 years of him leaving on 2/19/13.
    And what did he leave? A broken pathetic shell of a woman. His wife. The mother of his 1 year old & 2 year old.
    For who? A tattooed bartender centerfold?
    What kind of man does that? A pastor's son & a police officer.
    You know what? He deserves nothing but misery.
    There is redemption and happiness only for those of us who continuously pursue it with a willing heart.
    I pray that after I pass our delightful "he left me" holiday on 2/19/13 that I can just get over him and her.
    Cause I'm kind of working my ass off over here to try to figure out a life for my boys and I. And fuck... this is hard.
    - Your friend in California

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    1. Oh girl. Yep. It's hard. If it's any consolation I wrestled with that same rage and hatred for many, many years. Still do, sometimes. But let me correct you on a couple of points:

      What did he leave?

      A woman who has no idea how strong and resilient and mother effing-unbreakable she really is. Also, he left behind two little boys who probably thought he was King of the World.

      Who did he leave for?

      A woman who will now have to live with the guilt and the worry and the self-doubt that one gets when "getting" a married person to leave their family. Tattoos are forever. So is remorse.

      What kind of man does that?

      He's not a man at all. He's a narcissist. An asshole. He's the kind of guy who would leave a wife and two babies for someone else.

      I promise you, that it will get better. Don't focus on these ugly anniversaries. Focus on you and your boys and give yourself props for every single day you make it until bedtime without giving up. Love yourself as much as you love them, and let them see you crawl up and out of the sea of sad you're in.

      Love from your friend in Minnesota ♥

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    2. He gets a woman who will forever wonder if he is cheating on her the way he cheated with her. That woman got ill begotten goods and will never know peace in her relationship.

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  4. Please don't ever stop writing. No one gets this but you Jenny. I am so grateful that our paths crossed.

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    1. Oh anonymous. Hugs to you. I think a lot of us get it, it just seems like nobody else does.

      Thank you for being here!

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  5. What a lovely post. I got a sense of what single parents go through both times my husband was deployed to Iraq, and it's so challenging. I'm impressed with anyone who makes it work and keeps his or her sanity.

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    1. Ahh yes, Korinthia. Military moms know the single parent thing all too well. One of my best friends was on her own with three very young kids for almost a year while her husband was in Iraq. You guys have the stress of doing all of the parenting, PLUS worrying about your loved ones. My hat is off to you, mama.

      Thank you for reading!

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  6. Managed to make it through your post without tears, then read the comment from your friend in CA (me too!) and her comment made me tear up and your response pushed me over the edge!!! I'm thankful for my 12+ years as a single mom. It was hell at times but if not for the hell, I wouldn't have recognized the heaven that follows those lows. I learned more about myself, my strength and most important, my value. I assumed I'd get the old hubby back when he "realized" or find someone else fast, then I grew up an found some amazing friends and realized I didn't want or need anyone else. If I hadn't gotten to that place, I'd never have met and married my husband now because how can someone amazing love u and recognize our worth when we don't?! That's what I LOVE about your journey on here. You have a beautiful gift for putting that into words that so many relate and understand to their own (self included!) and I'm so thankful I learned to love myself vs. settling for the crumbs my ex was willing to toss my way! Agree w/all the sisters on here... Please keep writing! You're SO gifted and touch hearts in a way so many would love to be able to!!! Hugs and love to you... Your other CA friend and fellow Jenny! Xo (PS EVERYtime I watch Rehab Addict and she's in your area vs. Detroit, I can't help but think, "I have a friend that lives up there too! It's so pretty!")

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    1. Oh Jennyfur! Don't make me cry now. I am on the same track you were on. There is absolutely ZERO desire to be in a relationship right now. I think it will happen when it's supposed to happen. Might be this year, might not be for a few more. I honestly don't worry about it at all because like you say, I have come to the realization that I'm okay on my own. When "the right one" shows up, we'll both know.

      And yeah, baby. To hell with crumbs! WE WANT THE WHOLE CAKE, MOTHER EFFERS. Ha!

      Rehab Addict lady just bought a house here in MN! Can't wait to see what she does with it. It's a gorgeous old house that she saved from demolition.

      Thanks so much for reading, my friend. I appreciate you!

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  7. Your story is very close to my mom's story AND she was in another state that was so culturally different from her home state, AND with almost no family other than her four kids, AND it was the 1970s in a small southern town where all the husbands cheated but nobody got divorced. I so appreciate this "prayer" and I know my mom would have too at the time.

    One more observation - I'm in a reasonably healthy and happy marriage that I do not take for granted so I don't know firsthand what single mamas go through. But I do know that in general, married or single, women work their asses off, and in my opinion are so capable of doing so much without batting an eye, and yet we still have to fight to get the respect we deserve. It's good to declare ourselves worthy!

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    1. Hugs to your mom!! I am so thankful to live in an era where my predicament isn't so rare or looked-down-upon. I can't imagine doing this in the 70's.

      And a-freaking-men about how all moms work hard. Respect is hard won, it seems, and that is puzzling to me. We're not asking for prizes or trophies or parades, but to quote Aretha, just a little respect.

      Thanks so much for reading!

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  8. Well written article. Touches the right nerves.

    Couple of points especially resonated with me. "... diff between being alone and being lonely." and "our kids end up as happy, productive people".
    While the kids are the top priority, we owe it to ourselves to keep happy and keep a square head on our shoulders.

    I was on the other side of this equation. I was the one who left. Didnt leave for another woman. We were not just arguing, we were constantly fighting. Not a good environment for the kids. Kids were older. So we decided to split and I moved out. Felt the shame and guilt of it all. Worst of all, didnt get to see the kids every night, but many nights. I made sure that the kids realized that I was not abandoning them, which I think they realized early on. I was still a constant presence in their lives.

    The kids are moving onto college. I am proud to see them as happy and productive individuals. Now I think its equally important to have someone in our lives to share the joys and sorrows of life, and mundane and all the rest in between.

    Again, very poignant article. I am a fan of your writing. Wishing the best to you and your kids.

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  9. Thanks- I really needed to hear this today. I'm in the very beginning stages of becoming a single mom and I'm terrified. Glad to know there are others out there who have felt (or are feeling the same thing). <3

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    1. Welcome, Anonymous March 3... This is a safe and GREAT place! It's scary to start over, yes, but you are about to find out what you're made of. While the lows can be low and painful, the highs and the camaraderie you and your kids will come out sharing is priceless!!! Hugs to you and you're not alone! So glad you found this blog, lots of great people here and Jenny has an amazing way with words! You WILL get through and come out better for it!!! Xoxo

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    2. Just getting to this blog and enjoying the wealth of knowledge. My husband signed a lease to an apt April, 2012 only blocks from our home. Interacted well but uneven financial support. Our child was 16 & male & relieved when Dad moved. Spent weekends sparingly at his own request. Liked being at his own home. Financially struggled, house foreclosed, evicted during child's senior year in high school after his diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes(hereditary from Dad's side). Had great moral & financial support from family(out if town) & friends(local). Child had successful high school career now in second semester at local college. Dad very inconsistent with contact and lesser with finances but we are making it. Dad sent no contest pre divorce papers(no cost to him now but later for final decree). Child turned 18 late last year never formal child support requested until 3 months prior to18th birthday(did not need it, child did not want asking for anything from Dad). Now college getting expensive. Suggestions?? Am in the process of getting my lawyer to draw up divorce papers to include educational support through BA degree, spousal, medical insurance through age 25(or whatever the legal age is) half if bills left from foreclosure, storage, eviction, beneficiary of husband's retirement(he is employed by state)(he is beneficiary of my federal retirement), I am now an educator 3rd career not quite old enough to claim my fed retirement since leaving 10 yrs ago to start my own business. May do so at 59 1/2 in July this year. 20 yrs of marriage last year. No legal separation. BUT the son is doing great in college, sees Dad on his terms(our son's terms) as his college & life schedule allows. Dad is still local as we are 20 minutes away. I am comfortable with my own interests and friends as is our son. He plans to get an AA then transfer out if town for his BA & MA. Only stayed local at urging of doctors to closely monitor his diabetes these early diagnosis season. You all are phenomenal ladies and parents. What a wonderful village to be a part of. We live in the Washington, DC area in Maryland and can finally travel a lot because of his college schedule vs high school rigid schedule m.

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