Last night, I used You Tube to try and fix one of our toilets for the umpteenth time. I failed, but it works well enough for the basics. Tonight, I found light sabers for my 10 year old that have been AWOL for the better part of two years – since the last Star Wars premiered. It made his night. Especially when I removed a couple AAA batteries from a remote we never used to make sure it would light up well enough for daycare tomorrow.
In my years as a single mom of two, I’ve served in so many roles that I can’t recall them all now. But I remember a time, just 15 years ago when I thought this would be completely impossible. Tonight, as I sit and reflect, I realize how far I’ve come…out of necessity.
My first Christmas as a solo mom of one 2 year old boy, I was completely stressed as I fumbled to find and use a screwdriver to put together my son’s first big wheel. I remember that the frustration drove me to tears. Everything I had bought him needed assembling, and as a girl whose dad had departed this earth when I was only 11, I was lost. While I didn’t posess any real ‘do-it-yourself’ wisdom, I did posess the one thing that would see me through – pure determination.
Like so many parents I know, I have never been one to back down when it comes to fulfilling my kids wants and needs. I’ve never allowed something like ignorance to stand between my abilities and their dreams. So I’ve managed to become a plumber, a painter, a fixer, a nurse, a therapist, a sub-par chef, an exceptional maid, a mechanic, a handyman, a teacher, and even sometimes a super ninja.
Even though I never wanted or dreamed of being a single mom, I am proud that I’ve done it, that I’ve survived it, and even more proud that THEY’VE survived it thus far. It’s never easy, not always rewarding, but always 1000% worth the blood, sweat, tears, greying hair, and wrinkles – every last one. And I can honestly say, that as an only child of a single mom, I am grateful for my childhood. While it was painful at times – not having a dad – I am grateful for the lessons I learned from my strong heroic mother, who served as both mother and father better than anyone could understand.
God doesn’t always give us what we want, but he always, always gives us what we need. Sometimes what we really need are lessons. Lessons in love, lessons in strength, and lessons in tenacity. The determination of my mom was the perfect upbringing for what I would face as a grown-up. So much so that now I have two sons that believe women are capable of anything and everything a man can do. They are gentle, sensitive, and intuitive individuals who rise to the occasion every time, and I couldn’t ask for more.
So every time I start to feel sorry for myself and feel that God gave me the short end of the stick, I simply sit back and watch. I watch them at 17 and 10. I watch my 17 year old put his own needs second as he works to save so that he can buy his father an amazing and thoughtful gift. I watch him as he thinks about what he can do to support and comfort his friend. I watch him as he goes to work 4 or 5 nights a week into the wee hours, only to wake up long before the sun and go to school. And I listen to him as he doesn’t complain about the fact that he misses out sometimes on stuff he really loves because he has a larger goal in mind. I listen to him as he writes his music and practices his guitar until his fingers bleed. And I watch my 10 year old as he shares with his best friend, as he gives his last piece of candy to a dear friend who has no candy, and as he relentlessly practices karate even though his legs throb. I listen as he plans out his week and strategizes for himself about all of the homework that’s due this week, and how he plans to get it all knocked out. I watch them both grow into these young men who make me prouder with each passing day.
That’s when I know that THEY are my reward. That’s when I know that God’s big picture is so much bigger than my own, and that’s when I know that with Him none of this was ever possible, doable, or fathomable. But love is everything. God’s plan for love is everything.