“There are countless groups of people that serve and sacrifice with little recognition. I’m extremely grateful for each of you! However, this bit of encouragement is specifically for single parents. Truth is, the life of a single parent is one with most of the hard work, giving, and sacrifices being done behind the scenes. There’s not another parent or spouse to vent to or receive encouragement from. Most things single parents do for their children don’t get noticed by anyone. I want to specifically encourage my solo parenting friends today.
For so long, I believed our role was one that just helped our children. Of course, we would get fulfillment and a closeness with our kids. Overall though, our needs and desires would ultimately have to take a back seat to theirs. All of this applies to both custodial and non-custodial single parents.
As a custodial parent, the wear and tear of emotional strain being the caretaker can be overwhelming. Day in and out, we carry the sole load of parenting. School mornings, doctors appointments, sports practices, late night vomiting sessions, preparing meals, etc., it’s all our responsibility. There is no one to tag out with. No one to jump in the ring for us, while we take a breather. At times we get so tired or emotionally/mentally/physically drained, it’s hard to keep up with it all. But… we do. It’s our duty and passion. No matter how hard it gets, we find a way to give our kids the best we have at all times.
On the other hand though, non-custodial parents deal with a harder challenge… not being able to fulfill that day to day parenting position. Many times, their role in their children’s life is restricted to only a few days a month. However, either in order to keep their children’s life stable, to keep the relationship with the other parent healthy, or just because of custody arrangements, they grit their teeth and go without seeing their child. Throughout all of this, the love for their kids is there beyond measure. To me, that’s an enormous sacrifice. One that I personally don’t know if I could bear. My hat’s off to the non-custodial single parents out there. You all are the even more unseen champs. Personally, I know my kid’s mother deals with this pain. She is amazingly supportive of us and extremely selfless in our desire to put the kids’ well-being before her own. I’m blessed to have an ex-spouse like her.
As single parents, we act out our love in secret. We all long to bless our children without them feeling guilty or ashamed to accept it. What I mean by this is, if you or your kid needs a new pair of shoes and you only have money to buy one pair, I guarantee most of the people reading this would buy their kids some nice new shoes with a smile. And if your kid ever asks “Mom/Dad, why don’t you buy yourself new shoes too?” Never in a million years, would you want them to feel guilt due to the truth of the situation. Most of you would just smile and tell them our shoes are just fine and that they will last a bit longer. Our kids should never have to feel guilt from being cared and provided for. Since there is no one else in our homes but us and the children, these acts of love are something that’s only truly understood within our own hearts.
I try not to overly quote scriptures when I write as to not alienate readers with different spiritual views. However, today I’m going to mention some scripture. At various times in my life, certain books/chapters/verses resonate with me. Lately a passage that’s been on my mind quite a bit is Matthew 6:1-4.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people in order to be noticed by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow a trumpet before you like the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they will be praised by people. I tell all of you with certainty, they have their full reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be done in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Recently, I had been having a rough patch in regard to being a single parent, and then God hit me with a random memory from YEARS back: It was around 2007. I had to stay extra late one Sunday after church to setup for a skit I was doing the next week. I finally finished all of my work and went to lock up the building. However, when I was checking all the doors before setting the alarm, I noticed a light on in the back of the dining hall of the church. Curious, I peaked in to see what was going on. What I saw still sticks with me to this day. One of our church members (a quiet, sweet member who sat near the back and never sought any kind of attention) had every single piece of silver we used for communion laid out on the tables. I attended a fairly large church, so all of the pieces took up multiple tables. I watched her slowly and carefully hand-polishing each individual piece. I could tell she had been at this for hours, just to make sure each item was as pristine as possible. I remember not saying anything in that moment. I just froze up looking at her. It was the purest, most serene thing I’d ever seen.
After a few minutes, I stepped away and called one of our pastors to brag about this woman. I could tell the pastor was smiling over the phone. She told me that this woman got a key to the church in order to stay late once a month to polish all of the silver. No one knew about it besides the pastor who she got the key from. She just saw a need, and filled that need in private. No fan fare or casually mentioning her hard work in conversation about the hours and hours spent polishing. She just did it in private with a smile.
As I said, I had been in a rough patch when God brought that story to my mind. I felt him saying that we single parents are supposed to be like my friend from the story and our children like the silver. Then he brought up the passage from Matthew I mentioned earlier. If I performed my parenting role in a Godly, non-self serving way I would be blessed as well, along with my children. Sure people will hopefully see the fruit (love, happiness, joy) of our children, but there’s a Heavenly blessing in it for us as parents. In the quiet alone moments of prayer, in the times you sacrifice personal time for them, in the love you’ve given when you yourself have felt unloved, etc. In all of that, there is an audience watching… It’s God. He sees you polishing your silver when you think no one is watching. He knows how isolated you feel, but continue to serve. Not seeking public attention and not receiving that support from a spouse that we all so desperately desire, and Geez Louise is he proud of you.
The moment we realize that this blessing is more than recognition, a future spouse, friendships, prestige, or money, is when we can finally begin to understand it. Because it isn’t anything tangible or even visible to people around us. It’s the noble gift of getting to lay the firm foundation for our kids. Have you ever completed a project yourself instead of calling in someone else like fixing something in the house, hand making a gift, building something instead of buying it, cooking a meal from scratch for dinner, etc.? What a remarkable feeling we get to experience afterwards! That’s our gift we get to experience each day! Of course, God is always in charge and nothing is possible without him. We are never saved by our works, BUT you can be obedient and finish your race with your everything you’ve got. God wants you to feel that joy because it’s what He’s feeling when He thinks of you!
So, my single parent friends, yes you might be tired, neglected, financially strapped, and isolated. No one sees your sacrifices or trials. However, remember this is a blessing. It’s a Heavenly gift to be able to serve in private. I like to picture it like this, God looks us at the same way we look at our kids when they pour themselves out to others with no desire for anything in return. Just a beaming, sweet smile with prideful tears swelling up in His eyes.”
‘People see a husband treating his wife to a break from the kids. We are anything but.’
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Seth Megow, 33, of Valdosta, Georgia. For hilarious stories featuring his kids and posts on divorce/single parenting, check out his family blog, “Who Put My iPad in the Dishwasher?” Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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