In September, Single Parents, among other families, are experiencing the “Back to School” Bliss, or is it better said, “Back to School” Blues!
I always, always hated being separated from my son. I was always wanting to be the best ROOM MOM at school, or TEAM MOM in his activities. I wanted to be there when the CARPOOL LANE opened. But, the fact is, I WAS WORKING. Working, Working, Working, and then there was, well – Working.
My son, was often the last kid to be picked up. His mom was never there for class parties, cub scout popcorn sales rallies, or soccer practices. I relied on “my village”. In fact, I thank God for that precious village of people and families who surrounded him, and in turn, who surrounded me.
People from school, sports teams, church, and daycare who went the extra mile to help my son and I overcome the odds personally. I see their faces, and remember wanting to contribute so much more than I did. Don’t get me wrong – I brought orange slices to the games, and attended a few things, but always carried guilt when I didn’t really have the skill set or the band width to be the “parent” I wanted to be during the school year.
This year, my son is going into his senior year of High School. He has big dreams, and a strong foundation that is built on this foundation of love and community. If you were to meet him, you would see that God has moved mountains for him through the people I let into his life.
Many single parents; however, isolate. It is common that this happens due to lack of resources (time & money) – and also due to guilt and possibly shame.
My heart goes out to parents who stack the cards against themselves. While I know the “why” behind this behavior is noble – it is not really effective in raising our children with a positive and productive legacy. They need to be empowered to go beyond what we can often achieve “for” them. They need us to reach out and use our resources and welcome safe and inspiring members of a “village”. In fact, the truth is, we (single parents) truly need the same. We need empowerment and assistance to go beyond what we can often do “alone.”
So, if you are a ministry leader, team mom, or a room mom – how can you help? I would encourage you to create ways for single families to participate in your respective communities that are achievable for their family style. For instance, is there something they can do at home to help prepare for group events that don’t cost a lot of time or money, but are significant to their child’s environment? This helps build self-worth in the parents, and also in the children. It is very important.
And, if you are a single parent, possibly having similar feelings, I have a word of advice for you – GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! You are likely working at your job, working at your home, and contributing incredible amounts toward your own “village” at home. This is a huge task and an incredible achievement. One of my favorite reminders is a picture frame that I got. I put a photo of my son and I in it that was taken when we became a single family. It says, “A Family is a little world created by Love”. Let me encourage you to let the people around you into that special little world so that together, you and your child can reach beyond any limitations you may be experiencing, and leave a positive and productive legacy that you are excited about.
Stacie Poythress is a passionate leader whose personal journey through divorce and unemployment as a single mom drove her to serve families facing the same challenges. She began a Single Parent group in her own church. In 2010, she used her corporate and personal experience, amid her own fears and tears, to establish Single Parent Advocate. Stacie has since re-married and together, she and her husband, Steve; alongside their team, push forward to bridge the gap for single parents and their children. For more information, visit https://www.singleparentadvocate.org/
The Life of a Single Mom is a national organization headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that focuses on seeing no single mom walk alone. The organization serves more than 50,000 single mothers annually from around the United States and more than 2,000 in Greater Baton Rouge through their support group network, outreach event, educational classes, online communities, and more. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.