From One Single Mother to Another
By Sandra P. Aldrich
Published by Revell
Occasionally, one of my married friends will ask what single parenting is like. Imagine a tightrope strung across a deep gorge. A single mother gingerly walks across the rope, trying to concentrate on the numerous balls she's juggling. Some have labels: "child care" or "work" or "debt" or "health." Perhaps even "rejection" and "custody battles" are included, but always she's worrying about keeping so many balls in the air at the same time.
On each side of the gorge run folks clamoring for her attention - children, parents, bosses, friends. Then one smooth-talking type gestures for her to step off the rope and join him. At places where the rope dips close to the ground on which he stands, it would be easy for her to drop all those balls and step onto his stony path. But the mother continues on, looking only at the responsibility coming down toward her hand at the moment, knowing that if she looks away, she can easily lose her balance.
One thing that will help her keep her balance, though, is the faith that she has strength beyond her understanding and the knowledge that she is making a difference in the lives of her children. I remember the day when my daughter, Holly, in the third grade at the time, came home from school in tears. One of the room mothers had handed out printed directions to a special event and said, "Take these home to your families."
Then she'd glanced at Holly, remembered that her dad had died just a few weeks before and stammered, "Oh, sorry. I mean 'take these home to your mothers.' "
In our kitchen, 8-year-old Holly sobbed, "I want to be a family again!" I put my arm around my little girl. "Holly, we are still a family. We're just a family of three now."
She leaned against me in relief. That was a turning point for both of us.
That incident, along with others, made me realize if we were going to survive as a family, we'd have to fight a few emotional battles along the way. And the only way my kiddos could develop their own strength was by watching me.
Oh, by the way, I need to get one of my pet peeves out of the way: people who constantly refer to single-parent families as "broken homes." Many of us feel that through God's help and a great deal of personal effort, our homes are healed, even if, as in my case, the healing didn't come overnight.
Excerpt: That's Some Proposal!
Like many young brides of a quarter century ago, I had gone from my father's authority to my husband's, and my relatives expected me to remarry quickly after Don's death. But as I pondered my future, I realized I had been Mitchell's daughter, Fred's girl, Don's wife, Jay's mother. . . . I wanted to find out who Sandra was. So I determined I would concentrate on my relationship with the Lord and take care of my young children for a full decade. What caused me to choose 10 years as my non-dating goal? Well, it fit my tithing belief, and since the women in my family usually live to be close to 100, I decided to tithe my very life span. Besides, at the end of 10 years, both children would be, I prayed, in college and well on their way to becoming solid citizens. I would have plenty of time to return to an active social life.
Once that decision was made, it freed me from the temptation of walking into a gathering and glancing around the room to see who was in attendance. I continued teaching for another year, took numerous Bible classes, then changed careers-and all because I was listening only to the Lord's instructions.
But even though I'd decided not to date, I still received - and declined - a most interesting marriage proposal.
As part of my study of the Bible lands, my pastor, Dr. Bartlett Hess, insisted I join the church tour of Israel and Egypt. During one of our free days in Cairo, I was enjoying shopping with Dr. Hess and Kevin, the photographer with whom I often worked. We entered a jewelry shop, and the two men proceeded to look for birthday gifts while I gratefully sat down on a bench near the window.
A cluster of assistants stood nearby, smiling. I foolishly gave them my best Kentucky smile in return and opened my notebook to check the next day's schedule. When I looked up, the assistants were still smiling - and nodding. I smiled and nodded back.
After a moment, the oldest one in the group walked over to me. He gestured toward Kevin. "Is he your man?"
What a weird question, I thought. But I wanted to be a good American diplomat, so I answered, "No."
Then the man gestured toward Dr. Hess. "Is he your man?" he asked.
"Well, where is your man?"
Bewildered, I stammered, "I'm a widow."
The man suddenly smiled, pulled his green shirt over his voluminous stomach and then thumped his chest.
"Ah!" he said. "I am allowed four wives."
"That's nice," I replied, not having a clue why he was telling me that but wanting to be polite.
"Yes," he continued. "And for my next wife, I want an American wife. I want you!"
Suddenly I decided I belonged to both Kevin and Dr. Hess. I closed my notebook and stood up, but my new suitor stood in my way.
As I sidestepped him, I squeaked, "Me? Why me?"
He smiled. "Because I want a wife who's pretty and very fat!"
American diplomacy was no longer on my mind in that moment! But I averted an international crisis by choosing to scurry out of his way.
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think (Romans 12:2 NLT)