August 26, 2009

The Cup of Single Motherhood

"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Matthew 26.39

I love my children, but most days I never experience one moment of peace. Sometimes it feels like there is a conspiracy amongst them to ensure that I never get a break and so they run a tag team to run me down and wear me out. When I finish fulfilling the requests of one little person, another one is right on his heels with his or her own request or demand, and this continues all day long. When the three older kids finally go to sleep, and I think I have a little while to read, rest or write, then the newborn awakes screaming for another round at his personal 24 hour milk bar. After a night of broken sleep, I wake up tired and do it all over again, all by myself.

I have been added to the ranks of single mothers.

Being that I was committed and married to the father of my children, I never even considered there would come a time when I’d be a single mother and would have to raise them on my own. I intended to do the ‘til death do us part’ thing. Only problem with that is the way things were going, it might have been my death that caused us to part. I believed that it was best for children to have two parents, but because of my husband’s abuse they might’ve only had one ~ him. My leaving stopped him from being the death of me, but my kids still only have one  parent now ~ me.

I don’t pretend to be the first single mother ever, there are and have been billions upon billions of them. For a time my mother was one and so was her mother. In fact, almost every woman in my family has been or is a single mother. Most of my friends are single mothers, regardless of their ethnicity, education, employment or lack thereof, level of income or whether they have a relationship with God or not. It's like a cancer to mankind ~ men who want all the pleasure of making babies, but none of the pain to raise them. Men who care nothing about the vulnerable tiny humans they create. Men who are too cowardly to fully commit to caring for someone else for the rest of their lives, be it his wife or his child. To this kind of man, his child is nothing more than a 30 second nut and I don't mean pea or crazy.

So why should I be spared the experience? I'm not special or different from any other woman. I'm learning personally for the first time just how difficult that job really is, with 4 little kids. It is hard no matter how many kids you have, but of course the more you have the harder it is.

We all know that being a good mother is the most demanding job on earth. Being a good single mother kicks it up a notch and makes the calling feel impossible some days. At the end of the day I can feel every muscle in my body crying out, with the ones in my back screaming the loudest. My head is usually aching after a day of repeating myself over and over again and hearing, “Mommy he hit me, she pushed me, he took my toy, she called me stupid, he just peed on himself and the floor, he just threw up, come wipe my butt, she broke it, I’m hot, I want juice, I don’t want to…"ad infinitum.

I want what’s best for my children like most mothers do, so I sacrifice every day for them in a myriad of ways. I chose to breastfeed my children well into their first year of life because I believe it was best for them. Although it’s a wonderful experience, it calls for a major sacrifice of time & freedom on my part. I can’t do a lot of things because I am nursing and need to be with my baby 24/7. I can't come and go as I please because I have young children. No fun nights out for me. I hear about events or gatherings I'd love to attend, but I know they will come and go and I won't be in attendance.

My pastor once said that, “Sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love even more.” As single mothers we give up a lot of things we love or would love to do, for what we love more ~ our children.

My husband wouldn’t give up abuse or anything else he loved to do, for me or his children. He loved himself more. Even after I left him I asked him to get help so that maybe in 6 months to a year we could reconcile and be a family again. I asked him to really show me that he loved me this time by his actions, not just his words, and get into a batterer’s program.

But you know what? He wouldn’t do it. He loved himself, his freedom and the single lifestyle that he wanted, more than us. It was easier to let us go than to let go of his problems. In his mind I was his problem. If I’m gone then he’s cured of abusing me and therefore wouldn't need help. I think it was something about me breathing that bothered him.

So instead of opening a door to a life of joy, love and peace for his family, he pulled out a chair for me at the table of brokenness and poured me: sorrow, blood, sweat, tears and struggles, into the cup of single motherhood and I must drink it all. Right now, the taste is strong and bitter.

As I said before, I want what’s best for my children. For a long time I thought what was best was a family with both parents in the home. By the time I left I realized that what’s best is one parent in a home where there is peace and safety instead of two in a home of violence and fear.

So I will courageously drink this cup that you have served me dear husband. I will stand up and hold it down. I will take care of my kids and become even stronger than I am now. I will do it as other women have done it, and God will help me through it. You're still gonna have to answer to Him about all of this, He sees all and knows all, you haven't gotten away with it. "Those who bring trouble on their families inherit only the wind." (Proverbs 11.29)

I believe in time my children will "rise up and call me blessed" (Proverbs 31.28) because of the sacrifices I made, and their love and the love from my grandchildren will be the honey that makes this bitter cup sweet. And I will come to the end of my life in peace.