I don’t think anyone ever plans on being a single parent. On that much-anticipated wedding day, the future seems so bright and everyone thinks that surely, this was meant to be. Time passes, and children often come along to bring additional blessings to your life. Ah, the family unit is complete. How much better can life be?
But sometimes, due to circumstances that can never be planned for, situations occur that break the union that wasn’t intended to be broken. Sometimes death snatches a loved one away, and suddenly there is a void that will never be entirely filled again. Other times, the love that was so strong at the beginning proves not fervent enough to endure those tough times that all marriages encounter. And, there are also those who abandon marriage to pursue other interests or other people. Whatever the cause, the cocoon of safety and assurance that once enveloped us is shattered, and life is never quite the same again.
That’s where I found myself long ago, when my daughter had just turned 6, and was getting ready to graduate from kindergarten. Suddenly, we weren’t your typical family unit anymore, just a mom and daughter wondering what in the world the future held for us.
Fortunately, due to God’s goodness, and a family that loved us more and more with each passing day, we grew together through the ensuing years. Was it easy? Gracious no. Was it hard? Heavens yes – both financially and emotionally! But there were blessings to be found in every circumstance, and if we looked for them, we were sure to encounter them, tucked away in the most mundane moments of life. So, this month, when we celebrate Father’s Day, I want to salute the single moms out there who fulfill the role of dad.
You know who you are: the one trying your darnedest to fix the leak under the kitchen sink with just a pair of pliers. Or the one looking under the hood of the car, trying to figure out just exactly where the air filter is, so that you can change it yourself, and not pay someone else to do it. Or perhaps, while fixing that leaky toilet, you didn’t realize you had not turned the water connection off before proceeding to work your plumbing magic (though this did make for a good laugh for your daughter who is watching the fountain of youth spring up in your bathroom).
And, since there is only one of you filling the role of two, you sometimes overbook yourself, and try to be in two places at one time, such as work and the school awards ceremony. And, when the kids are sick, you can’t trade off with a spouse and say, “Honey, you take her to the doctor today; I did it last time”. You also go into work sick, so that you can save your sick days for when the kids are sick.
You cash in some of your vacation time to buy them a computer, so they can have the opportunity to do better in school. You stay up at night and figure out how your “in-come” relates to your “out-go” and then figure it again to see what must be paid now and what can wait. You’re the one putting the bicycle together on Christmas eve to help Santa out. You’re the one who helps with homework, dries the tears from the effects of young love gone wrong during science class and, in general, keeps the home fires burning. You mow the lawn, service the car, clean the house, wash the clothes, cook the meals and anything else that needs to be done, as there is no one else to do it. But there, among all the things that you do, lies the secret of happiness – giving the best you have for the best part of you, your child. Someone once said, “I never knew that my heart could exist outside my body, until I had a child”. Isn’t that the truth?
The values instilled in me as a child served me well during those lean years. My own childhood was quite different, as I was blessed with a wonderful mom and dad, whose marriage lasted “until death do us part”. This Father’s Day, I will stop to honor the memory of my dad, who left this earth way too soon. It is because of him, and the many things I learned from him, that I have been able to fulfill the role of dad for my own daughter.
It’s on occasions like this that I realize how much has been accomplished over the years. Remember the little skinny girl who graduated from kindergarten the year my husband left? She matured into a very bright and wonderful young woman. She knows the value of a dollar, that anything worth having is worth working hard for and that mom will always love her, no matter what. She’s married to a fabulous man, which means I’ve gained a son. And I now have three wonderful grandchildren, and this MiMi loves them with all of her heart and then some!
Would I recommend rearing a child on your own, without the presence of both parents? No. But when faced with such a situation, I know it can be done. So happy Father’s Day to the single mother who fills the role of dad, regardless of the reason. You are to be commended on all you do to provide for and protect your family. You are special, you are needed, and you are the one God has chosen to lead your family. It’s quite the challenge, with disappointment and failure sure to come. But, just as with any garden, you reap what you sow. Keep on sowing lots of love, lots of patience, lots of kindness and lots of goodness and hopefully you will see your children grow up and provide a bountiful harvest you can be proud of. That was my goal, and my harvest has been wonderful.