Love Yourself

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February is the month of Cupid, chocolate, and love. It’s everywhere. The Walmart aisles. The radio stations. The restaurants. Facebook. Instagram. All over the place. And, for a single mom, this season could be bittersweet.

However, let’s take a different approach this month. It doesn’t matter if you have a date or not. February can still be the month for love. But, instead of waiting to see if you’ll have a night out with your dream man or with Netflix, how about you schedule time in the next weeks for a very important person.

YOU! Yes, momma. You!

Love your neighbor as yourself isn’t just some feel good saying that Jesus muttered to the masses. He knew that the only way you could truly love others is if you truly love yourself. I’m not talking about some kind of prideful, “I’m all that and a bag of chips” kind of way. (Which, of course, you are!) I’m talking in the kind of “I’m happy to be me” kind of way.

This kind of self-love knows your strength and weaknesses and accepts yourself just as you are. You use your strengths to excel in life, and you learn to trust God in your weaknesses. Loving yourself means seeing yourself as the Father sees you: A wonderful, fantastic, mom, rocking the single mom life! We aren’t perfect, and we’re OK with that. At the end of the day, you know that you started your day with God and ended it with God, and because of His grace, you and the kids made it through another day. And, bonus points if no one yelled and the dinner didn’t burn!

Momma, take this month to really look at yourself and see just how beautiful you are!

And, then, take care of YOU! Get some gals together and have some fun. Go to dinner. Watch a movie. If you can, get a pedicure. Buy a new pair of shoes. Or, just allow yourself some extra time in the bathtub. But, don’t get caught up in what you don’t have this month. Don’t regret decisions that were made. Don’t look at all the flowers arriving for co-workers and start doubting yourself.

This month, I challenge you to love everything about being you and about being a single mom! After all, you’re a daughter of God, and He loves you so very much! 


Gwendolyn Irene

www.gwendolynirene.com

Child Like Heart

Last night I stood with my toddler as he threw one fit after another. An emotional wreck at its finest. As I tried to comfort him or make the situation less frustrating for him, he refused any support. As the adult, I know how to make the situation better. How to comfort and see the problem, but he has such a limited understanding of his own frustrations. It’s such a disheartening feeling to watch your child be so irrational over something you know can easily be fixed, as we think to ourselves “If only you could see what I see.”

God must feel similar when he looks down at us sometimes. Throwing fits when we don’t get our way, getting mad when he withholds something from us, disappointed when others don’t meet our expectations. While God looks down and thinks to himself “If only you could see what I see.”

In some ways, we are no wiser than the toddler throwing a fit in the floor, just a little older and a lot more reasons to be frustrated. Yet, we are called to have a childlike heart. A heart that trusts him innocently relies on him as a provider and is submissive in obedience. Oh, how I have failed so many times. Yet, I think of the love I have for my child. Would I ever deny him, turn my back on him for him not being obedient, not provide for his needs, or scold him for not trusting me enough. My child is my heart, as we are God’s heart. My love for my child extends beyond his actions. And yet God’s love for his children extends far beyond our ability to love one another.

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It makes me think. If we are called to have a child like heart and love like Christ, am I loving others with the devotion of a child, or the heartache of an adult? I then wonder can I love like I have never been hurt. Trust in people after so much disappointment. Or be obedient in the most challenging moments. The stretching moments that make me want to give up. Honestly, the truth is no. I cannot do those things. I am limited in my abilities, short with my patience and selfish in my decisions. And more honesty, just all around not a very nice person without the love of God teaching me daily how to lay my selfishness down and trust others. He is teaching me the purity of loving like a child. The freedom in giving up control and relying on him. The transparency of learning to have a childlike heart. He sees my fully and loves me despite my limited understanding, and so gently speaks over me “If only you could see what I see.” He reminds me to look up. He knows best. He brings comfort to pain and has the solutions to my frustrations.  His power shines greater in my weakness, and I am learning to give in to the weakness. Only then can I embrace the innocence of his heart.  A childlike heart. 

By Daisy

It Does Not Get Easier

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Today is Halloween. This morning, I threw my child out of the car with her costume tail in hand while other moms flocked to the schoolyard to watch the costume parade. It was as heartbreaking as the violin recital I missed last month.  I cried more than the first time I was traveling for work and missed my daughter’s first lost tooth. The lump in my throat was the same today as it has been for the last 4 years of doing this alone.

It doesn’t get easier, this single mom thing.

When you have babies, everyone will say how much easier it will be when the kids are old enough to help out.

Everyone is lying…or, at least, wrong.

When you have elementary-aged kids, everyone will say that your kids won’t want you around as much soon so it will get easier.

Lying.

Wrong.

Delusional.

Babies turn into kids, whose emotions need as much attending to as the diapers once did. Kids turn into teenagers whose roller coaster of hormones deplete your soul more than infant sleep patterns and feeding schedules. Teenagers turn into young adults whose journey to self-realization will rob you of your savings, your time, and your peace.

There will always be budgeting. There will always be work or the struggle to find work. There will always be seemingly immediate needs. There will always be emotions. There will always be cleaning. There will always be cooking or meal planning. There will always be more things to do than there are hours in the day.

And, most pernicious to the potential peace of single parenthood, there will always be the hole that needs explaining but defies the lexicon of the most learned parent: Where is my dad? Why did he leave? Was it my fault? Is he ever coming back? Does he love me?

That never gets easier. That, above all, is the heaviest burden, and one that is grappled with at every stage of life.

Really, you can insert any scenario inherent in the struggle of single parenthood, and some “wise” soul will bestow upon you an unsolicited, platitudinous gem about how things will one day be easier. And, they will have no idea how wrong they are.

It never gets easier. If you are a single parent, you already know this. So, I am here to tell you that it is okay not to feel comforted by these well-intentioned promises of succeeding serenity.

That urge you feel to punch Susan in the face when she tells you that she knows what it is like to be a single parent because her husband works a lot - that never goes away. That’s ok.

To find yourself in the situation of being a single parent is always going to be overwhelming. It is normal for you to feel that way. To have the life of one (or more) of God’s precious children dependent upon you and only you, it is more than one person can grapple with in the rare moments of single-parent solitude.

You don’t need to accept the placating sentiments of others. Being a single parent IS hard. It is ridiculously, unfathomably, stiflingly difficult. It is alright for you to ignore the mistaken masses, and to indulge in your own assessment of your situation.

But hear me, single moms, your kids know you love them. They know that you wish you were at the parade. They know that you are hurting because you wanted to find the time to cook their favorite meal. They know (even if their boundary-testing behavior doesn’t always reveal it) that you try, day in and day out, to fill a void that someone else created in their lives. They see Susan with her husband and her platitudes, and they know that Susan could never understand how hard it is to do this truly alone. They see you. They love you. So, go ahead and love yourself.

It will never get easier. You will never figure it all out. And, that is ok. It is ok to recognize that you were dealt a crappy hand and that you can find joy in the rubbish without convincing yourself that someday this will all be less burdensome. In fact, perhaps recognizing that happiness does exist now, in this overwhelming mess, is more realistic, healthier, and attainable than making happiness dependent upon the changing and unpredictable future.

Being a single mom means being superhuman. Susan and her friends will never understand. So, accept it, even when it is overwhelming. Celebrate it, even when you feel like you are doing it all wrong.  Go ahead and love yourself for the freakin’ hero that you are.

No, it doesn’t get easier. But, the truth is, we can learn to take it easier on ourselves.

A. Smith