When Sickness Strikes

Sickness can come without a moment’s notice.  For anyone, this is a time of inconvenience, doctor visits and unforeseen expenses.  While I do not downgrade the impact is has on every individual, unfortunately for most single parents this is also a very frightening time.   You are suddenly struck with the inability to face the day-to-day tasks that involve every element in caring for your children.  You still have to find a way to do everything you normally do when you are feeling well only now you have a roadblock at every effort.  It is amazing when you have help from the grandparents, neighbors, or friends but for most single parents you are completely alone and left to battle through this illness without any help at all.
Two weeks ago, I came down with an extremely horrible illness.  Without going into the details, I was down for the count.  Luckily, I did have a friend who helped me a lot with getting my son to and from school and was available for the emotional support, which can be very draining when your health is at a low.  For this I am very thankful!  I did become very frustrated and felt guilty for not caring for my son the way I normally would and at times he was left to fend for himself while I physically was unable to tend to him or was concentrating on the issues I was dealing with.  Dinners weren’t very healthy, laundry piled up, the house cluttered, and he played more Wii than he ever has.  Luckily he is almost 8 years old and so he can handle these times pretty well, but what if he were 2 or an infant? There are so many single parents with more than one child, small children, and even possibly their children are enduring a sickness just the same.   Who is helping them?
This topic has always been heavy on my heart because I know first-hand how difficult this can be.  Sometimes it is near impossible to fulfill your parental tasks and responsibilities and the children in turn suffer.  BUT, as I send out a plea to those who have the ability to help out when a single parent is ill, I also send out a message to the single parents.  We need to help others too! 
Sometimes when life circumstances put you in a position to be raising your children without help, it is easy to feel victimized.  We wish that we just had the spouse who would help us in raising our kids, especially when we are physically unable to.  Remember that even in the two-parent homes not everyone has a “helper” in their spouse unfortunately and even if they do it is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus helping everyone in their time of need. 
Ask for help.  Sometimes it is a matter of others simply not knowing how to help you when you are in need.  I am very guilty of this as I usually let my pride get in the way of asking for help.  In fact, the reaction I got from another friend when I spoke about this topic was, “You should have said something!”
So, to anyone going through struggles…say something! And to those who see someone struggling…do something!
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”- Galatians 6:2

I've put together some tips for the next time you are sick.  Prepare now so that you don't have to really "think" when you fall ill.

1) If you feel something coming on, head to the grocery store and pick up healthy snacks for the older kids to munch on if you can't bring yourself to make lunch or dinner.
2) Find a friend or relative who is willing to come to your aid if you become ill.  Have a plan set up with them of how they will help and how you will alert them of your need when that time comes. 

3) Put together an "emergency pack" for each child listing their information, blood type, insurance information, doctor, dentist, preferred hospital etc. 
4) Talk to your children (if old enough) about who will be caring for them if you become ill and how they can help make that time easy for everyone.  
5) Have a little stash of extra cash tucked away in case you need money and are not feeling up to heading to the bank.

What other tips do you have?

The Gift of Friendship

What role does friendship have in your single parenting? How can this one word, “friendship”, become one of the greatest gifts from God to you?

I have been very blessed with a lot of new friendships over the last couple years and they have become vital in my journey in single parenting.  Each of my special friends has been an answer to my prayers and God has used each of them differently in this journey.
Friendship is such a vital role in your journey as a single parent.  As stated in previous blog posts, it is extremely important to have a support system in which you can find comfort and compassion.  When I first moved here to Colorado, I started a Mom’s Group with the intent of trying to find special friends for my son to connect with.  God surprised me and I ended up finding friends too!  I met a few women whom I treasure to this day.  These friendships are good; very good.  

You are worth it and you need it.   Step out and find some great friends to love and support as they do likewise with you during your single parenting journey!

John 15:12-15 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."

Keeping The Memories

Do you feel like time is rushing by? Your kids are growing and changing, but you are so busy handling the ins and outs of life that when you finally do get a moment to breathe and take it all in, you think “where has the time gone?  Wasn’t it just yesterday when…….?”
Through this journey you as a parent know how important it is to “take in” all of the moments of your kids growing up because one day they will be grown adults and these times will all just be a memory.  Did you do everything to the best of your ability? Will they grow up and tell others how much time you invested in them? It is at that time when I believe we will truly sit back and analyze each step along the parenting process.  Things that seem important to get done now may hardly seem as important then.  I use the example of laundry a lot, but it seems to fit in most metaphoric situations.  Laundry is important.  Laundry piles up to let you know you are falling behind in your responsibility and laundry never ends.  It’s a vicious cycle but just like laundry, your schedule is unrelenting and consistent.  It can wear on you physically and emotionally.  Where are your memories being made in the fog of your exhaustion?  I don’t claim to have any amazing answers to these questions; however I do have some tips that have worked well for me.

1) Set aside specific time with each child one on one.  Once per week, my son and I go on what I like to call “date night”.  This serves the purpose of teaching him manners and how to be a gentleman as well as is a fun time for us to get away and relinquish the “real world” for a short time.  This also seems to be where I hear most of his thoughts and feelings.

2) Keep a journal.  I have a journal that I write letters to my son in as often as I can remember to do so.  They are stories of something funny he did or said that day, thoughts I have as I go through this parenting journey with him, struggles that I wish he could understand about raising him…etc.  This is intended for him to have one day when he is grown.
3) Create a wall of blessings!  This is something we are putting together this week.  We will designate a place in our home as the “Blessings Wall” and we will pin up and write up any and all blessings God has given to our family so we do not forget.  When times get low or tough, this wall is intended to serve as a reminder that God will see us through as He has in the past.

4) Lunch time at school! If your child is young enough these can be really special moments.  Visit them at school on their lunch time and bring a special lunch that you both will share.  I monthly surprise my son with his favorites at lunch time and I sit with him and his friends and enjoy lunch on his level. He loves it and while he isn’t embarrassed to have his mom sitting with him, I am taking this time for the memory he’ll have of us sharing in that time.  This was thought of due to my own special times with my mom coming down to my level during elementary school lunches. 

5) Playtime.  This is probably the hardest thing to do with your child when you are strapped for time.  I know that when I’m home and have work to do, or housework, the fact that my son is quietly playing in his room is ideal for me to “get it all done!”  However, he LOVES when I drop what I’m doing and show interest in what he is doing.  He lights up when I come in his room and start playing with Legos and cars acting like I’m a kid too.  He just loves it.  That is going to be way more important to him and to me when we are older and have these memories.

These were just my suggestions, but I’d love to hear what you do to create memories!  Put down the laundry and life and enjoy your kids.  They won’t be kids for long.  Blessings to you!

A Heavenly Father Who Loves You

Often in this walk of “single-parenthood“ you stop and remember what got you here.  Sometimes it’s pure memories that flood our thoughts all of a sudden, or sometimes it’s almost regret for not trying harder.  For instance, tonight my son was able to have dinner with his dad after a week of not seeing him, which is a far cry from before when his dad would go months on end without spending time with him, but nevertheless a week seems like a long time to a child who wants their parent around.  When his dad brought him home there were tears.  Tears that reminded me of the tears I cried when I finally had my husband back just to have him leave again.  I remember those tears.  They were not always tears of sorrow but also tears of frustration.  Frustration that I wanted so badly to put into words but just couldn’t find the right way to say how I felt.   Honestly, watching my son’s tears made me angry but all the while, remembering that frustration.  The feelings flooded back and I just held my son as his dad said goodbye once again.  What a terrible feeling for my child to endure.  I can’t emphasize to him enough that I understand his pain and why he cries.  I can’t tell him that once upon a time I cried the exact same way for this man that he now calls “dad”.  I too wanted him to live with me and take care of me forever.  I too wanted him to hold me when life was tough and when he seemed to be the only person who would understand.  I understand, son.  I understand.
It took many sleepless nights and many growing pains for me to begin to heal from the feelings of abandonment and fortunately as an adult it happened a lot easier than it does of a child.  I vow every day to remember the pain my son is enduring NOW and make sure that I overflow the message of a heavenly father who loves him and who is greater than any earthly father could be.  
Prayer:  Thank you Jesus for giving us our children.  Thank you for creating a home for them that is secure in reliance on You.  You are the healer of hearts and I lift up all of the single-parent homes to your will and glory.  Heal and protect us from hurts and frustrations so that we may continue to grow in You.  Amen.