Today I am 41. Last year, I celebrated my 40th birthday with an array of friends and family. This year it was my sister and I and our children. Like every day, today was full of hustle and bustle. Children … Continue reading
Apparently it’s National Single Parent’s Day. I didn’t necessarily set out to become a single mom. But I’ve never feared the prospect. When God first spoke to me about adopting, He said I might do it alone. At the time I was 10yrs old. The only alone I could imagine was a husband dying or divorcing. So that’s the scenario I played out with my Barbie dolls.
As a teenager, I felt more strongly that I would adopt before marrying. By then, outside the church, women were doing that. Then, I fell in love with someone who loved everything about me – including the crazy dream of adopting. At that point, adoption was still primarily done when you couldn’t have children of your own. Never was it the first choice. But I wanted it to be mine.
Over the past decade, I’ve watched the church rise to embrace adoption as a calling. It’s a powerful testimony of Jesus choosing us as we choose to love the least of these among us.
I tell my daughters that God knew I would be their mother – He made us for each other. “Then why didn’t He just give us to you at the beginning?” Raine often asks. Why didn’t He spare them the pain of beginning elsewhere under less than ideal circumstances? I don’t know. “Because He hoped things would be different. He wanted things to be good for you. He let your birth parents have a chance to work with Him. But He got me ready just in case,”is the answer I give her.
When I finally felt ready to pursue fostering, a dear friend informed me that any children I cared for would be cursed by God. She told me I was going outside of His desire for family – a mother and father – and because I was defying divine design my children and I would live outside of God’s blessings. Her words stopped me in my tracks. Though I didn’t agree, I found myself blocked for several years as I processed that thought. My idea of fostering and adopting as a single woman was foreign to the circles I moved in. Most people didn’t take me seriously when I first started talking about it. But when I began moving towards it, I realized how opposed most people were.
Because of that and other reasons, my relationship with that friend came to an end. I grieved for a long time while I continued to grieve the loss of the man I’d fallen in love with. For reasons I still can’t fully understand, that relationship exploded. Was it all for the best? I really don’t think so. But it’s how it worked out. There’s nothing I can do about my lost love. Believe me. And there’s nothing my girls can do about their ill-equipped birth parents. That’s just how it’s gone. We have to come to a place of acceptance.
I didn’t intentionally set out to defy perception. God created me to be a mother. It’s in my DNA. “Mom” was my nickname as a teenager. That’s how everyone saw me becuase that’s who I am. Would it be better to have a husband walking along side me? No doubt. But I wasn’t willing to forfeit my calling when that opportunity didn’t come togehter. So, I have become a single mother.
It may be more difficult than parenting with a partner. Since I’ve never had one, I can’t say for sure. I’ve been told that it is. I am only one person. That means that some of the kids have to wait for my attention sometimes. The dishes don’t always get done right away. Sometimes I run out patience. But, I think, that can be said of any parent – even when there are two.
My children are blessed. They have one parent who loves them. They have one parent who always puts them first. They have one parent fully commited to raising them into the amazing women they’re meant to be. I am one person, it’s true. But I don’t see that as a disadvantage. My kids have one person completely devoted to them. And that counts for an awful lot.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Like most holidays, in my opinion, it’s highly commercialized. Perhaps unintentionally, the message received by most singles is, “I am not enough”.
That’s not a thought I entertain in the everyday, so it wasn’t part of Valentine’s Day. I bought my daughters new shirts as I usually do.
The message on Athena’s top is dear to my heart. Love Wins! In so many ways that is the testimony of our family. We invited another single mom over for lunch. She asked to bring a friend – a single mom as well. My girls and I turned the lunch into a little party. I ordered cupcakes from a lady at church. I bought flowers. We decorated.
In years gone by, I’ve busied myself with lavishing love on others. Many times I made greeting cards and wrote heartfelt words to dear friends who were without significant others on Valentine’s Day. That made me feel better about being alone.
This year much too late, I remembered not everyone is comfortable being on their own – especially at Valentine’s. But I was out of time to do anything about that.
Since becoming a mom, that longing has slowly subsided. Someone would be lovely. But I’m not going to spend my time waiting. I have a life to life – a life of significance. That significance is not marked by having a ring on my finger or someone to fall asleep with.
This year, when I least expected it, I reaped the generosity I’d previously sown. Two friends stopped by unexpectedly with gifts. One brought chocolate and flowers – the very kind I’d bought to give to my lunch guests. The other made cinnamon buns and brought chocolates. The cinnamon buns – possibly her first attempt – weren’t spectacular, by her own admission. But that made me love them all the more. It was a mark of our friendship that she’d chosen to include me in the less than exceptional moments. I love being in community. For me that means being real. That my friend made the effort to bake me something and chose to share the imperfection of her creation speaks volumes to me. Those are the kind of relationships I want – sincere, honest, and an example of family at it’s best. I also got a lovely card and chocolates from one of my party guests.
Athena made me a flower arrangement at school. Raine, who is with me every waking moment, realized too late she had nothing for me. But in the midst of a few teary moments as emotions overtook her on Saturday, Raine told me repeatedly how much she loves me. “And love is all that matters,” she reminded me of the words I’ve often spoken.
My love is full of love. Being single, I am not living without. The truth is I am living a significant life full of love.
A lot of women have husbands. I understand this. Since I don’t, I end up doing things for myself. Like building a deck two years ago. This year it was time to restain it. That’s what I worked on today. From the time Athena left for school until she returned, I was outside. For most of the morning Raine was with me. Having woken up with a fever, she could not be persuaded to rest. So I put her to work pulling weeds from the flower bed where her wild flower seeds will go.
Being 37 and somewhat out of shape, painting is hard work. My body aches. My arms are sunburned. And I think, yeah it would be nice to have a husband. Or at least extra money to pay someone to do this. Alas, I don’t have either.
Raine had to fend for herself at lunch time. She ate left over chicken and raw veggies. I even let her pour a glass of water. Don’t worry, I made up for it by preparing a well received mac & cheese with ham and broccoli for dinner. Now I’m too sore to move.
Yeah, having a husband would be nice – specifically one who does things around the house. But I haven’t time to worry about that now. I need to finish the deck floor boards tomorrow so I can try building a canopy.
A long time ago when marriage loomed on the horizon, I decided on an engagement ring. Always going against the grain, I wanted pearls instead of diamonds. Never have I been overly idealistic. I didn’t expect a fairy tale. That’s why I wanted a black pearl and a white pearl because the man marrying me would need to commit to be there for the good and the bad.
At one point I thought I’d found that man. Being an artist, he even drew up some sketches of my desired ring. In the end that all came to nothing. It’s been slow, but my heart has recovered.
During that process, life morphed into something entirely different than I expected. There’s been some good and some bad. Promising to be my husband, the Lord is sticking with me through it all.
For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.Isaiah 54:5
A man may come along prepared to make that commitment. In the meantime, I asked a dear friend, Sue, to craft a ring for me.
With this ring on my right hand I’m reminded that I’m not alone. With this ring I remember I am loved and chosen. With this ring I continue living fearlessly.