Gosh, I love those refrains about single mothers that gush about our unique combination of strength and grace.
“Wow, I admire you.”
“I could never do what you do.”
“Single moms are heroes.”
It is so nice to be recognized, even briefly or superficially, for the back-breaking struggle of parenting children alone. Being a parent is an often-thankless job in itself. So, outside validation is always welcome.
But the other day, I got to thinking and questioning. What is it that motivates me to drive my girls to track meets when all I want to do is face plant into a venti latte? What makes me keep going? My love for my kids? Yes. But, what else? Is there something special about me? Am I like the X-men of parents, with some genetic mutation that gives me an upper hand that society simultaneously envies and uses as an excuse to ostracize me from the “real family” norm?
As much as I wish I could say that I am understudying Dad while playing the lead role of Mom from a place of love and grace, the truth is that I am deeply and constantly angry.
I am livid that I am nearly 40 years old and still have to ask my mother for help paying for my car insurance because my ex-husband is thousands of dollars behind on child support, and the embarrassing amount he is ordered to pay does not even cover the kids’ food for two weeks.
I am furious that I still feel compelled to respond to his emails offering to help, knowing that he never actually will.
I am vexed that he can sleep at night while I lay awake worrying about how we are going to make everything work this week, this month, this year.
I am irate that he still gets the title “Dad” and they still carry his last name, even though he does not know them at all.
Mostly, I am enraged that these two precious, dynamic, hilarious, brilliant, mind-blowingly incredible little girls may think, even for a second, that his absence is a reflection of their worth.
My X-gene is anger.
It is not a force of will or Christ-like grace. It is full blown, unadulterated, unrelenting anger…and that is fine.
Righteous anger is Biblical. Being angry is not a sin to be prayed away. What we do with anger is what matters. Ephesians 4:26 may be one of the most difficult imperatives in all of the Bible: “Be angry and do not sin.” God commands us to let the sun go down on our anger before we make room for the Devil in our lives. He does not tell us to simply let go of anger.
In his book, Uprooting Anger, Robert Jones tells us that, “True anger properly diagnoses what is an actual sin, it focuses not on personal offense as much as Godward offense, and then it expresses itself in ways consistent with Christian character.” This is the anger that I am striving for in my life. I pray to remain angry about the rupture of the parental covenant and to use that anger as motivation when the demands of parenthood, work, and relationships drain me. I will embrace the righteous anger born of a callous act as an intentional inspiration to be the most loving parent that I can humanly be.
So, next time you see me, it is ok to holler, “Stay angry, momma!”