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Single But Not Alone
Single-parenting is not for the faint at heart. Who keeps this single mom from coming apart at the seams? Only God and a church family that watches out for her.


Let's face it. As a single working mother I feel as if I've had my hand on the static-electricity ball at the Ontario Science Centre one too many times. You know, the one that gives you an instant fro. Maybe you know someone like me at church: a full-time working mom, raising her children alone on a fixed income, no time to herself and a perpetually messy home. Sanity? Never heard of it.

Single But Not Alone
Bonnie Holdsworth (left) and Pam Bauer are always ready to lend Caitlin (centre) a helping hand.

I'm often asked, "How do you do it?" by well-meaning people who look at me as though I'm an alien. "How do you juggle your busy career with raising your sons and still seem, well, normal?"

At times I think I'm barely hanging on to my sanity by a thread that's about to snap, but the truth is that God's grace has provided me with a wonderful extended family within my church community.

"Dear God," I've prayed over and over again, "please bring someone into my life who will listen to me, encourage me and help with the kids." I may have had something very specific in mind like a single, good-looking guy, but God has seen the bigger picture and placed not just one, but many people in my life as helpmates. They are the ones who offer assistance when I'm having car trouble, or an encouraging word when I feel doomed, who leave a bag of clothes for my kids on the doorstep, or beam a Sunday morning smile at me from six pews back.

The women at church bless me in so many ways, particularly when I need a break. When you are working 24/7 without relief, it's only a matter of time before you split at the seams. My sons recognize the signs when I start singing, "Stop! And let me tell you what the Lord has done for me … " About that time, a friend from church is on her way over to take them out for a few hours. These ladies have been encouragers and mentors. Because many of them are mothers, they know what I go through and how difficult it must be to do it alone. They provide patient, listening ears when I have no one to share the highs or lows of my day. Being single for so long I've learned not to cry. What was the point if I didn't have a man's shoulder to soak and snivel on? God has taught me to lean on these wonderful women in my moments of despair. I'm happy to say that once in a while, I can let the tears stream and my nose run without feeling like a failure.

I am so grateful to God for the men in the church who set godly examples of upright and moral behaviour. My son's Sunday school teacher sets the standard for manhood, and my pastor speaks God's Word unashamedly. On Wednesdays the men work with the ladies in the kitchen serving up a home-cooked dinner to anyone in the community. What a blessing to families like mine that live on a shoestring budget. Christian men have often included my boys in their family time, taking them fishing or to the movies with their own kids. The teens have been a blessing, too. A couple of young men taught my son to snowboard. How awesome is that?

The attitude of the church toward me as a single mom really makes the difference in whether or not I handle my role with grace and ease. I'm grateful when someone bravely offers to help with my three-day pile of dishes or watch the kids so I can get groceries hassle-free. The occasional gift of an hour of peace, or just someone to talk to about the horrors of the day, helps to keep me from becoming so stressed that I spontaneously combust on the sofa.

Single But Not Alone
Curtis Moore (far left) and Joel Smith are like big brothers to my boys Ryan (left) and Kieran.

Being the sole breadwinner, homemaker and spiritual leader of a family is not for the faint of heart. So how do I do it? I don't. God faithfully uses these wonderful people to help meet my family's needs. He is so creative in His approach to answering my prayers that I'm always surprised. Whether it's a couple of guys hauling a turkey with all the fixings into my kitchen at Christmas time, the angel who paid for my groceries at the checkout counter or the perfect timing of a compliment that boosts my weary spirits, He is always right on time.

Will I be combusting, exploding, or imploding any time soon? Not if my extended family has anything to do with it.

Caitlin Doyle is a freelance writer based in Perth, ON and can be reached at tohopeistolive@aol.ca.

Originally published in Testimony, December 2003.
www.paoc.org/

 

 
 
 
 

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