This week has kicked my butt for a handful of reasons, but my parenting is at the forefront.
Since my divorce, I have felt like I have been given a set of matryoshka dolls – you know, those Russian nesting dolls – thinking I was just handed one, only to find that there is one new surprise (and when I say surprise, I mean horrifying truth) after another for me to discover and then figure out how to handle.
And right now, I am hardly holding myself up. I am in a situation where I’m not just trying to parent well on my own, I am fighting battles that God never meant for me to have to fight at all, let alone on my own.
And I am feeling fragile and raw and like I’m doing it all wrong. I’m inserting myself into relational triangles while trying to figure out my place in protecting my sweet kids. And then I think, but I’m just the one putting out the fires; I’m not the fire-starter. And then the thought, what if I had just stayed married…most of this wouldn’t be happening (though, really, Beth, how do you know that?)
So at the end of this weary parenting week, after I’ve slogged through a bunch of absolute yuck, and with several parenting issues in my head at the moment, this is what I’ve got.
One, things are actually better this way. I was telling a friend about some new parenting territory that I’m terrified to be entering and that I have no idea what I’m doing and she said, “You’ll be so much better at this alone than you would’ve been as the two of you.” And she’s so right. Together, we argued all the time. Together, well, there was virtually no together in the last few years. So what that meant was I tried to do things on my own even though we were two, and that was strangely harder. I don’t have to run an idea by someone who might say no. No more convincing; no more asking permission. I can just pray and I can just decide and I can just do what I truly think is best for my kids, without the fight, without the uphill battle.
Two, I truly feel that I followed Jesus out of my marriage, which means he is follow-able now in my solo parenting, as he knew this was where I was going to end up. The state of our marriage was not healthy or holy, and nothing was turning it around. A marriage cannot be turned around by one. So that means, though my children go back and forth and that can be so difficult on them; for the most part, they are spared so much of what they used to live with every single day. Though there are still the absolute crazy moments that blindside us, their typical day to day life is peaceful and quiet and conflict-free. Families are supposed to be safe; ours was not. Now, mine is. Not perfect – I’m not perfect – but it is safe and peaceful, for sure.
And three, God is in charge of my kids’ paths. Every portion of it. Yes, he chose me for them and them for me, and yes, it is a huge responsibility to parent, and I take it seriously, and I sit with the weight of it all the time. And yet, I can breathe, and I can relax, because God’s got this. He sees the pain that they have been through. He is their healer; I am not. He knows their hearts; I can try, but there will always be things I do not and cannot know about them. He is their redeemer; I cannot guarantee that something good will come out of the bad things they’ve experienced but God does when he says that all things work together for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28).
So, today, parenting on my own is hard. It’s even hard that my kids aren’t with me today; they’re with their dad. It’s hard to let them go. It’s humbling and scary to have to pray them out of my house every time they leave and have no idea how they are until they walk back in a few hours or a couple days later. But God knows. As I say to them when they walk out of our home, “Who guards your coming and going?” And they yell back, “God.”
Sweet girls, yes, God guards their coming and going, and that’s what I’m holding onto.
If this post helped you, “Moving On as a Christian Single Mom” is for you, found here.