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Welcome to the hectic years

Hi, I'm Mindi.

And this is our Hectic Life.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Being a Single Parent

Being a single parent has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world.  Though not always, it is usually a job born of necessity, not choice.

It consists of late nights and early mornings, waking up to a foot smacking you in the head because your daughter sleeps like she is in a kickboxing match.  Doing laundry every day of the week just to keep up, and sometimes, feeling bad when your 6 year old pulls a shirt out of his dirty clothes basket to wear because you simply didn’t get his camp shirt washed the night before.  It is another day of grilled cheese or pancakes because once again, you didn’t make it to the grocery store.  It involves work lunches of cucumbers and pretzels because you gave the last of the bread to the kids and there was nothing left for you to bring.

It is turning on spongebob just so you can get a tiny bit of peace knowing that it would be much better if they played outside, but you are just too tired to make it happen.  It is going far too long between haircuts, and routine doctor visits.  It is occasionally missing church because you’re just too tired to go.  It is living with a messy house, where tables are covered with crayons and applesauce, and corners filled with paper airplanes and reading books.  It is finding stray socks under chairs, couches, and once, in a cabinet.  Light bulbs only get changed when it is too dark to see.  It is opening the fridge hoping for a snack, to find the kids ate the last of your coveted greek yogurt, and left a Minnie mouse purse instead.

Being a single parent is lonely.  Although surrounded by kids, you don’t have another adult to help with anything at all.  To run to the store and get a gallon of milk or loaf of bread when you are just too exhausted to load the kids in the car and do it yourself.  There is no one to help with buying a house, a car, or figuring out how to get your son to care about homework.  Parenting alone means the yard is far from manicured, and weedeating never gets done.  The garage is a stack of perilous boxes that could fall at any minute, because there is simply no time to go through it all.

It is learning that people will judge you by your children, and your life.  It is living with the stares in public places when your kids fall on the ground in a tantrum, and learning to shrug off the comments such as “you have too many kids” or “are they all from the same Dad?”  It is living with the reality that how your kids behave reflects on you, and you know that you are being measured and found lacking by those around you.

It is, quite simply, never being enough.

It is facing insurmountable frustrations and trials, teaching children about things you don’t quite understand yourself, and knowing that no matter how much you want it to the situation can’t be changed.  But then you finally come to the realization that the people in it can.

You learn that it doesn’t matter what other people think, if they walked more than a minute in your shoes they would probably stumble and fall as you did many times along the way.  It is changing the measure of success to simple things – like no visits to the ER that day, opening the fridge to find milk, eggs, AND butter, or the ability to find both of your 4 year olds shoes within minutes of looking for them.  It is getting to an event almost on time and leaving without a bout of tears or screams, even if no one gets a trophy of recognition.

It is feeling proud when you watch your children learn to fold laundry, sweep floors, or mow the lawn.  Even if the laundry is somewhat disheveled, the floors not quite clean, and the lawn covered in patches of tall grass that were missed.  And no matter how hard your work day was, it is the sheer joy you feel at picking up your kids and getting hugs and kisses, and hearing tales of kids at school and their favorite books at library time.  It is watching your child learn to ride a bike, write their name, or figure out how to program the keyless garage door opener on their own.  It is the pride you feel at watching your daughter make muffins from scratch, or your son giving his little sister a piggyback ride to keep her from getting cranky.

It is a roller coaster of emotions, countless tears, smiles, and laughter.  Feeling a combination of guilt and anger, joy and peace, happiness and brokenness all at the same time.  Learning to live each day as though it is new, because although the day before had been filled with broken dishes, refereeing fights, and screams of frustration (mainly from you), today things might be different.  Today, could be the breakthrough you had been searching for.

No, single parenting is sometimes not a chosen profession.  Instead, born of a situation that you simply could not change.  It is a journey of learning about patience, worry, joy, and the true meaning of love.  But while the journey is a long and tedious one, filled with rocky mountains and overgrown paths, it is one that teaches you things that will stay with you the rest of your life.

It teaches you that some days, it is okay simply survive.  That you will fall many times but God will be there to catch you.  And He will give you the strength to continue on, even though you truly don’t think you can.  That it’s okay to make mistakes, to be less than perfect, that your arms might never reach wide enough to encompass everything in your life but that’s okay.  They were made just right, so that they can reach everything that matters.  You learn that even in the darkest of nights, when tears are your only companion and misery steals your sleep, that the dawn will come.  And that eventually, everything will be alright.

And although you might not feel that you are or ever will be, to your kids you will always be more than enough.


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