My friend Lizzie wrote a lovely post about single parents during the holidays today that links to a lovely informative post about giving a hand to single parents she also wrote that sums up what I was trying to say in the post below, which I wrote a while ago and never finished, I just couldn't put it together quite right ... and never did ... but now don't need to finish it because she did it for me.
(written by me, 10/24/10)
Let me begin this by saying that I love my life, I really truly do. It's pretty darn terrific. I'm blessed with 6 incredible kids who light up my life. Two years ago I thought I might never be happy again (I wasn't sure I'd ever be anything but unhappy back then), but time has allowed me to gain new perspectives and appreciate new joys, which I do very much. So while this is going to, I think, sound a bit like complaining, which it is ... it's not ALL there is, by any means - some days are just "one of those days".
Parenting is hard. Really hard. No instructions, no guarantees. I read today that parenting is 18 years of thankless, ungrateful joy. At times that's true.
Oh yeah, I know ... the reward is in seeing them succeed, seeing their happiness, the little hugs and kisses. I know that.
But sometimes it kind of sucks. Like when the kids won't stop fighting, and can't seem to find an ounce of kindness inside themselves for their siblings. Or when the computer and the pressure washer break on the same day and NO ONE did it (and there's no one to fix it). When you clean the house top-to-bottom, spic and span, and the kids come in and destroy your hard work before you can say, "hi, I love you."
Imagine one of those hard days and it ending with no one coming home to talk to you, no partner to give you a little "boost" or hug at the end of the day and tell you you're doing a good job. No one to say, "Sounds like you handled that really well". No one to get the fighting kids to bed so you can release some of the stress and have five minutes to yourself. No one to take the kids to soccer so you can go to the grocery store alone. No one to discuss your doubts, fears, concerns with. No one to bounce ideas off of. No one who's "got your back". No support.
It's not just the tough moments that leave us feeling guilty, worried, unappreciated, just plain down when it's nice to have support. It's also the good moments ... when one of the kids does something sweet for no reason at all, when someone gets a great grade or excels at a sport, when the baby takes his first steps ... it's just as rough to not have anyone to share those wonderful victories and joys with.
I am lucky, I have a great support system. They're a phone call away, and they call me often. My parents are very interested in the kids and endeavor to spend a good amount of time with them and I've got some terrific friends. Not everyone has that.
My point ... If you know someone who's raising kids alone please consider giving them a call at the end of the day and telling them they're a good parent, listen to the highs and lows of their day, praise their children to them. Send them flowers, even a super simple inexpensive bouquet from the grocery store can be a wonderful day brightener (or a small live plant that'll brighten the home for even longer). Give them a gift card to Target, Walmart, or some store in the mall that doesn't sell kids stuff, whatever. Heck, give them a bottle of cheap wine (or an expensive one).
All I'm saying is that it's tough to do this parenting gig, period. And we all need some TLC. ...
Again, Lizzie says it better and has a long list of wonderful ways to help a friend parenting alone.