This is Solo Parenting
The funeral home in charge of my husband’s funeral requested clothes to place on him as he lay in a casket made for an older man, his life cut short at 38 years old. I walked his charcoal grey suit jacket to the car, aware that this would be the last time it would ever be worn. My oldest son, Ed, gently tugged the jacket out of my hands. He slipped it on, its giant arms dangling past his knees. Grabbing his 8-year-old brother, John, he invited him into the safety of the jacket. Even together, the two of them did not fill the giant expanse that their dad had occupied. Smiles covered their faces as they remembered the life that had been lived in that jacket. Their innocence deprived them of the full weight of what his death would ultimately mean for them.
The picture taken at that moment represents what it means to me to be a solo parent. In front of me stood two boys, begging to be big enough to understand what was happening. They were being asked to make it in a man’s world without a shepherd, protector, or guide. Their two hearts were not big enough to fill the role they suddenly inherited. In the most immense grief and pain I had ever imagined existing, I felt as though I was supposed to fill that gap. At the same time, I knew I was not sufficient to father two boys through the most difficult circumstances of their life, especially when I felt like less than half a person.
Now two years later, I wish I could say that I had discovered all of the answers on how to thrive in a time when it took my every effort just to survive. That picture is etched in my brain as a forever reminder of an expanse that the three of us can never satisfy on our own. Yet, I have this comfort – God made me to be a mother – not a father. He knows the impossibility of me being a father and He would never ask me to be more than He made me to be. The rest — that gap — actually belongs to Him.
It is His place to Father the Fatherless, to fill the voids, and to heal broken hearts. It is for me to love and obey Him, hope in His plan, and believe in Him.
The moment I take on more than I can handle, more than He made me to handle, I deprive my family of who I was made to be.
While it isn’t even a challenge for my boys to beat me in a game of HORSE on the basketball court, they do have all the mom snuggles they could ever want. Through this, I have learned to give myself the grace to understand that we are not asked to play roles for which we weren’t cast. I must trust that if I focus on playing my true role as their mother, together with God, my boys will eventually grow into their own suit jackets – strong, together, and covered in love.
I am curious to know what solo parenting means to you. Do you have a picture or story that represents your journey?