Confessions of a Single Mom
You know that feeling of knowing that serious pain is coming and there is no way out of it? Like knowing throughout a pregnancy that labor pains are coming one day and there is no way to make it out without feeling them? The type of situations that you dread but know deep down you’re just going to have to get through them? The ones where trying to think things through and analyze and rationalize how you are going to handle them only makes them worse? Then ones you dismiss and say, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there”?
Mine was knowing that there would be a day when my beautiful little girl realized that our family was not complete. That her friends at school all had something that she did not: a father. “Why don’t I have a daddy?” haunted my thoughts and followed me to sleep at night. I was paralyzed by the fear of how she would respond and terrified that I would not know how to answer her. The more that I thought about it and the vast assortment of answers I could give, one thing was unavoidable: that moment when I would have to tell the most precious little girl in the world her daddy abandoned her. There was no ending that I could foresee in which her heart did not get broken. So, in my weak attempt to cope, I just quit thinking about it. Sure enough that day came, and sooner than later.
Shortly after leaving all of my family and friends to pursue an incredible job opportunity in New Mexico, we were invited to dinner with a family who were members of the church we were attending. We had completed the meal and were sitting around the table talking when my darling little Paizley with two other girls came up to the dinner table, interrupted the conversation and asked “Mommy, I don’t have a daddy. Why don’t I have a daddy?” Before I could respond one of the other little girls instantly chimed in “Is Paizley’s daddy dead?” Oh, how badly I wanted to say yes! That would have been an easy answer invoking sympathy from everyone around the table rather than the true answer that is directly connected to the most painful memories of my life. Memories that I definitely did not want to share with a group of people I did not know. Although I cannot remember verbatim my answer, I clearly remember Paizley taking my hand, looking me in the eye and saying “That’s okay. God is my real daddy anyway.”
Being a single mom is hard. Having to fill the role of protector and provider as well as nurturer is difficult. The most painful part of the struggle is the fact that I can be the best mother ever who does everything right all the time (which I am so very far from) and it still would not be good enough. Paizley has needs which, no matter how hard I try, I can never, and will never, meet. Though it has only been three years since my divorce, it feels like an eternity. There are days when it seems like there is no end in sight. I find myself waiting to be rescued by prince charming. Waiting for the struggle to end, for the exhaustion to end. To not feel like I am in this alone. This is when the Lord reminded me that there is only one man who can save me. There is only one man who can meet every need that Paizley has. And he already did it.
I am learning what it means to find satisfaction in Christ alone. To walk in His protection and provision. To love Him with everything in me and desire Him above all else. And although I have the incredible opportunity to experience Him in such a personal way, there is something far more magnificent that He is showing me. The presence of Jesus Christ in Paizley’s life is undeniable. Words simply cannot explain the power of witnessing the grace of Christ completely enveloping my child, protecting her from my bad decisions, from her father’s bad decisions, from consequences she should never have to pay. She talks to Jesus nonstop—as if He were flesh and blood holding her hand, walking her through life.
So yes, my car smells like spoiled milk. Yes, when told to get dressed the other morning, Paizley put on a clean set of pajamas and I did not notice until I was dropping her off at school. Yes, we eat between eight and ten meals a week in the car (most of which are fast food). Yes, the highlight of my Friday nights is watching animated movies. Yes, my dryer is full of clothes that were washed two weeks ago. And yes, I have not done dishes in over a week and I grocery shop once every two months. But, I also hear a sweet voice in my house clearly singing “holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty” or “by your grace I’m saved, by your grace I’m saved.”
It is true, I am no super mom. I am not a sufficient substitute for a dad. But that is what makes our lives so beautiful. I cannot do it. But Jesus can. I do not have to do it, because Jesus does. Where I fall short, where I can go no further, Jesus carries us through. In the most broken parts of our lives, He is there doing a mighty work. Being a single parent is hard. It is not what God intended a family to look like. But I have learned that what I have destroyed He can make beautiful. In what I have caused shame, He can work for His glory. He is the husband to the husbandless and the father to the fatherless.
Image courtesy of Justin Kern.