At the grocery store, I recognized an energetic young woman – the grown daughter of one of my friends. The beautiful woman had been raised with siblings in a loving, two-parent, moral environment with firm boundaries. She was excited to share her latest news.
“Wow!” she said. “I’m pregnant! She looked as pregnant as a tongue depressor. “Here’s a picture of my baby!” and she showed a fuzzy sonogram picture on her telephone.
A few words later and I realized that, like many, she had been duped by a common Hollywood script summary that reads like this:
The relationship had been written in the stars!
First, the man and woman had hated each other.
Then they had sex.
Third, they had fallen in love and they had lived together.
Now one baby was in the hopper.
Live happily ever after? Absolutely!
Married? Whatever for?
The only detail in her life that didn’t fit was that the father of the baby had left– forever.
I sighed. Back in the “olden days” before the media dynamited marriage as “too old fashioned,” and the common opinion about marriage was different, I had found I, too, was bulging around the waist. I thought I was sentenced to watching what I ate. Weeks later, nearly comatose for lack of ice cream and brownies, I had been getting no slimmer. Then I found out that pregnancy was the issue. In a marriage as rocky as a shipwreck, I trembled. Just weeks later, I began the long journey of raising the twins by myself. I learned that despite Hollywood’s glowing cinematography, single parenting is not for sissies.
It adds up to:
Being head of household on one woman’s income, often without any additional financial help. Anything can push a single mom into an O.D. (overdraft): the rising cost of brown bags, kids’ shoes, peanut butter, field trips, haircuts, thrift store purchases or luxuries–such as gasoline.
No relief from the continuing needs of the children 24/7. An unsupervised fistfight between my siblings broke out in the hall; or after work, somebody’s kids (not mine!) were building a cardboard fort in the living room from appliance boxes. I had been planning a menu from existing cans and frozen ingredients, while wondering how many I would be feeding, who there were, and when I could type the term paper due in the morning.
No immediate emotional support. No one is there to cuddle you in the middle of the night and tell you everything is going to be okay. The dog just snorts and rolls over. He’s not talking or listening.
No one to share responsibilities or life decisions. It’s always up to you to choose and to act.
I know that my friend’s daughter faces a really difficult future, and I hope that she will rely on God’s guidance for the road ahead. However, it will not be easy. Perhaps you know a single parent whose children you could watch for an afternoon for some “Me Time.” Watch for ways to encourage a single mom or dad today.
P.S. Single parents are more than one in four of the U.S. population. Please look out for their needs, support your local pregnancy centers and domestic violence centers for the sake of all the precious children. [Much thanks to Linda G. and M.M. for help with this piece.]
[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on Button-to-God.com.]