I’d like to thank Brad Klassen who is here today with his latest post on single parenting. Brad is a writer, a story-teller, and public speaker, and he’s sharing his experience he had one night when he took his daughter to ER. While waiting for the doctor, he thought about how single parents cope with incidents without a life partner to share them with. I believe every single person can relate to this experience.
My wife and I have been married for 15 years. We have 4 healthy, awesome children.
Recently our second oldest came to us saying she had been having some pains in her cheek. As experienced parents, we decided to ride it out for a while to see if this would be a passing pain, or if it would end up being something more serious. She kept having pain.
Then one night, after she came to our room in pain three times, I took her to the emergency room.
Since the emergency room seems to be the busiest place on a Thursday night at midnight in our town, I had a lot of time to think while we waited to see a doctor.
Many of those thoughts were about my daughter and her potential diagnosis.
I wondered about the others in the ER and what their situations might be.
And I spent ample time just wishing for sleep or to see the doctor already.
Finally, we were called in and led to a room in the back where we continued to wait even longer.
As I sat there, my thoughts began to turn in a different direction.
There I was at the hospital in the middle of the night while my wife was at home with the other 3 kids.
That’s when it hit me.
What if she wasn’t there?
What would I do if my kids had only me in that moment?
My heart broke for single parents. Right there in that little cubical waiting room.
I began to imagine what it would be like…
To need just a few things from the grocery store and your kids aren’t old enough to stay home on their own.
To work all day at a job, and then work all evening at home because there is no one else.
To make a decision on waking up other kids to bring one to the ER, or, to wait until morning to see a doctor.
To not be able to take a sick day yourself because you need to work, or you need to be there for the kids.
To continually be pouring yourself into your kids when no one is pouring into you must be really hard.
To not feel the hug of the one you love when you feel sad, or to come home and not be able to put your head on their lap after a hard day at work.
To walk in your shoes because they never stop moving.
Parenting is hard when it’s a tag-team wrestling match. But I never truly thought about how hard it must be when it’s a single person who is heavily outnumbered.
So to all you single parents out there, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I never took time to truly try to understand your situation.
I’m sorry I have complained too much about what my circumstances have been when the whole time I have had someone to help carry the load with me.
I am sorry I don’t understand what it is like to see your child need their other parent, but you’re not be able to make it happen.
I’m sorry that I’ve never stopped to think about how the love you pour out to your kids might come from a broken heart itself.
I’m sorry I never realized how hard it is to pour out that love when there is no one pouring into you.
I’m sorry I’ve never taken the time to understand that your equation for life seems more like:
Working all the time + Bills to pay + Exhaustion = Guilt because you have little or nothing left for your kids.
I know you carry a lot of negative thoughts, doubts, and hurts. I can only imagine it feels like you are running through an airport as if you are late, and again, tripping over the 8 pieces of luggage you are dragging along, wondering if you packed everything, while asking if you turned off the stove, as you try to wipe the stain off your shirt.
I want to encourage you to STOP.
For just a second.
And read this verse:
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps 34:18, NIV)
Take a deep breath.
Read it again.
Did you see it?
You are not alone.
Even if it feels like He’s not, God is there with you.
All of Him.
Not only is He close, but He may use some different ways to show you.
Maybe it’s a pastor, youth pastor, teacher, coach, neighbor, friend, or even a stranger in the line at the grocery store.
You are not alone.
Know that the God of the universe has a special place in His heart for you.
Live in God’s plan for you today.
You are not outside of His hand.
His plan for you today is to live in His grace and His strength, to know that “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3, NIV)
“(His)grace is sufficient for you, for (His) power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)
God promises to not only be near you, but to also give you what you need for today: more of Him.
Live in God’s freedom from guilt and regret.
In 2 Corinthian 12:7-8, Paul talks about a “thorn in his flesh” and how he begged God to take it away.
God heard his prayer, but He didn’t grant that request because He had a bigger picture for Paul.
Paul understood it was his pain that brought him to better understand God’s grace.
It is interesting to note that God is “close to the brokenhearted,” but He doesn’t always stop the heart from being broken.
Why is that?
I believe, as Paul probably did, that a truly broken heart knows what it truly needs: the healing hand of the Good Shepherd who is with us in the darkest valleys (see Ps 23, NIV).
Know that your family is not “broken”.
The truth is, we are all broken and are all living under God’s grace.
Have you ever noticed how even married couples can have rebellious kids and single parents can have great kids?
Your family is just that: your family.
Love them. Be there to the best you can be.
You will get tired. That’s okay.
You will get frustrated. That’s just you being human.
What makes you a real hero to your kids is that you will never give up. You will be there because you are the ultimate hero. You are their parent and you love them like no one else in this world.
Your job as a parent IS important. It matters and makes a difference.
Maybe it’s time to start looking at it differently.
All we know is “single parent” as though it’s a label or something.
But what if we flipped it?
Your first job is to be a parent, not to be single.
The job is hard, but it can be done and done well.
You are doing a good job.
I know you are making a difference in this world because you have made a difference in me.
Thank you for that.
Have you ever felt like this as a single parent? Feel free to share.
Brad Klassen is a writer, a story teller, and a public speaker. His passion is to bring the Bible to life for all ages and help others grow in their walk with Jesus. In his spare time he loves to long board, play board games, and sit by a fire (but not all at the same time). He and his wife, Jen, have 4 kids and live in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. You can find more from Brad at adventuresofjuniorbear.weebly.com and sign up on the free email list and receive his parenting PDF called 17 Ways to Grow Your Child’s Love for Jesus.