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During the last few weeks of my husbandās life, I can vividly remember me saying to him, āI could never be a single mom.ā I had been taking care of the family like a single mom due to his health issues, was feeling the stress and not liking it.
Little did I know that I would soon be a single parent.
I wish I could tell you I have miraculously become this fantastic single mom in the last few months, and that itās been awesome. But that only happens in fairytales, and this is real life. I also wish I could tell you I knew all there is about raising children as a single parent, but I canāt because Iām still pretty new at this whole thing.
What I can say is I have even more respect for single parents than I did before. Plus, Iāve discovered I have more strength than I thought I had and God has blessed me with wonderful friends, co-workers and family that have helped me in ways I never even would have thought to ask for.
Itās tough being somewhere you donāt want to be. I donāt imagine anyone who has found herself raising children alone planned on things turning out that way. Even those who are divorced, even asked for a divorce, most likely didnāt plan on having children only to take care of those children alone.
I had planned on growing old with my husband and enjoying our grandchildren together. I had planned on him teaching our son what it is to be a man and showing our daughter how she should expect to be treated by a man.
Although I may not always be a single parent, the time my children had with their father here on this earth is already done, and thatās something in itself that can create resentment and anger in children who need their father, want their father. It can also cause the parent left behind to try to be two people, try to fulfill the role of both parents all on her own. With this as the backdrop of the parent-child relationship, no wonder a single-parent family might be stressed.
One thing I have learned quickly is that I am not super woman. It was hard enough trying to be super woman with a husband, so Iām not sure why I think I can do it now. Iāve learned to curb my enthusiasm when it comes to volunteering for things and to even limit my attendance of enjoyable church and family functions. Iāve first got to learn how to be me again in these newly found circumstances, or to figure out who āmeā is again.
Although Iām really not in the position yet of giving out advice, I will share the worst and best things I think Iāve done in this new venture of parenthood with hopes that it helps someone else. The worst things Iāve done include expecting my 10-year-old son to understand what Iām going through. Although he is my oldest, heās still just a kid and cannot/should not understand such an adult issue or what Iām missing.
I also sometimes forget that their loss is just as significant as mine. Yes, most children lose their parents, but itās usually way past the age of 10 or 7. Thatās tough stuff to deal with for mature adults, let alone for young children.
At first I tried to hide my grief from them to protect them. I wanted them to know everything was going to be okay, but they also need to know that itās okay to feel sad, angry, and to miss their Daddy.
The best thing Iāve done is to be open and honest with them. I eventually came to the point where I shared some of my emotions with them. It sometimes upsets them, especially my little girl who just wants me to be happy, but they are so much more comfortable expressing their feelings with me because of that.
I also answer their questions as honestly as possible, which is something Iāve always done with them. Kids always handle the truth way better than some made up statement intended to protect them.Ā I just have to remember to only answer the questions they ask and no more because there are times they donāt want to know anymore.
The greatest thing Iāve done, and I have to re-do every day, is to trust God with my future. Things havenāt turned out like I had planned, but God obviously had other ideas, and Iāve got to trust that He still has me in the palm of his hand, loves me and wants good things for me in my future.
I have to admit I donāt like being a single parent, not at all. Honestly, itās the pits. I feel more lonely trying to parent alone than I do simply being alone. But thatās where I am and the only choice I have, as I see it, is to move forward and do the best I can. Donāt get me wrong, I love my kids more than life itself, but parenthood was designed to be a partnership and going it alone simply isnāt natural.
I may not be single forever, but for the time being, that is my reality and a reality I must accept for what it is and trust God with. He allowed me to come to this place, so Iām sure heāll get me through it. There may even be a point in this that I get sort of good at single parenting. Until then, I pray my mistakes will just make me and my family stronger.
Kimberly Gray is a resident of Nolan County. Comments about this column may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.