So I’ve said here before that I’m not going to talk about the Terrible Thing. And I’m not.
But, I’ve come to realize that it’s impossible to write about my life without acknowledging the the ripple effect of the Terrible Thing because it shapes every moment of our lives now.
One of those effects was that I found myself in the unexpected situation of now being a single parent. The thought that has kept rolling through my head is that I never expected to find myself in the position of being a single parent.
When I said that to someone recently, they answered, “Well does anyone really?” Fair question. I guess yes, there are a few in the minority that originally made the decision to have a child on their own. But they are the exception.
I agree, most single parents, never got into the business of parenting thinking they would end up doing it by themselves. But as time has gone by I’ve thought about this a lot and I now realize there is still a distinction within single parenthood as a whole.
I first really identified it when a friend of mine also found herself suddenly, unexpectantly, and tragically going it alone with two daughters just like mine – just stair stepped back a few years younger. Seeing her situation, helped me understand my own a bit.
Divorce is terrible and tragic as well, don’t get me wrong but in the end it’s still a decision. Somewhere somehow most people after much thought and consideration decide that path is better for their family than the current togetherness. It’s still terrible but they arrived there over time and with control.
Illness is terrible and tragic for sure – but it generally takes some time and you see it coming even though there is no control. There is never enough time to prepare but attempts can be made.
What happened to my friend is not the same as what happened to me but the end result was much the same – in the blink of an eye, everything changed with no warning and no control and we both woke up one morning part of a whole family and went to bed single parents.
That is what I mean when I say I never expected this. I mean that I never saw it coming, I was not prepared. I had not planned. I had not reached this place after careful and thoughtful consideration and conversation. I arrived here on a lightening bolt.
As with any unexpected change there was a long period of shock. A vague time period when you go through the motions – feed people, pay the bills, bath. But that’s about it. Mostly you have no memory of the days past and no idea what the plan is past the next 12-24 hours. Things are just a blur. You’re in survival mode.
But time passes and you find yourself settling into the new life. I hadn’t even realized it when I woke up that day and heard what happened to my friend and her girls that are so much like mine and saw myself and them suddenly in a new light – 16 months down the road in front them and their new life. I saw their life for the next 12 months and knew what it would be like for her. It clarified a lot for me about the journey I was on with my own two girls.
Not too long after that I ran across a story about a woman in the 1920’s who had suddenly found herself alone … there was this one part that described her like this.
“She could have given up or grieved her life away, but she wasn’t that kind of woman. She was the kind of woman that God would trust to raise 5 girls alone.”
I sent that to my friend and said “This is us! We are that woman”… We are the sort of women that God trusts to raise our girls alone. Since then I’ve had a different outlook. It became a bit of a private badge I wear. It’s what I remember when I feel myself start to get down. I’m the sort that God trusts to do this. So I better do it right.