Last Thursday, a little after 4 in the morning, I drove my wife to the airport where she would catch a flight to spend the week with her sister celebrating her sister’s wedding. And so began a week as a single dad.
I’ve cared for them before and, well, I’m quite good at it. I suppose that’s why it always bothers me when I see posts that assume dad taking care of the kids equals dinners out and other assorted disasters. I love my kids, I can cook, and I enjoy being with them.
However, this week had some known stressors and some big things I would need to make sure happened. They did, but along the way O got a taste of what it was like to be a single parent.
Rush home so you can thaw meat so you can cook dinner so that everyone is fed so you can get them ready for bed so you can wake them up before you really want to so you can do it all over again.
To a single parent, the week must feel like one giant run on sentence. I wanted to have dinner at a reasonable hour. I wanted to get them to bed so I could have time for me. I wanted to go to bed at a decent time.
Of course any single parent would say, “You have no idea!”
And they are right.
While I was incredibly lonely for my wife, I could call her and I know she’s coming home. Single parents don’t have that knowledge.
My kids have had 2 parents all their lives. Teaching and correction can happen when I’m not feeling overwhelmed. I’m not sure there is a moment when single parents aren’t feeling overwhelmed.
While this is a story about my current life, what I really learned is that single parents need help – sort of.
Dishes pile up and you don’t feel like doing them.
You have an appointment and need someone to watch the children.
You need advice but never had the time to make friends with anyone so you are on your own.
And, you don’t want anyone to think you’re weak or failing at parenting so you just hang on.
For the church, this is a great opportunity. We, the church, can provide places for friendships to happen – leading to people getting help when they need it (advice, babysitters) not just on Sunday mornings.
The church can provide opportunities for parents to have fun with their children – and not have to worry about cleaning up afterwards. We need to provide these times to allow them to turn off “parent mode” and enjoy being a parent.
But we have to do these things in a way that doesn’t make a parent (single or otherwise) feel like their a complete failure or they will never stay long enough to hear the freeing message of the gospel.
Our methods can’t be all about training, lectures and Bible study…so what are you going to work on?