A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

Monday’s Child: Our Home Is Not Broken

In early 2003 I interviewed a half dozen adoption agencies in my search for the one that I would use to grow my family. I remember one interview in particular at a Christian agency. After getting information about their international programs, I asked what the domestic adoption picture would look like for me, a single mom. I remember the woman drawing herself up straighter in her chair and saying, “Well, we like to place our children in homes with both a mother and a father. If we were unable to find a suitable two parent family, which never happens, only then would we consider placing a child in a broken home.”

If you know me well at all, then you know that I hate confrontation so much that I will endure a lot of guff to avoid it. On this occasion, however, it was too much guff for me to swallow. “Ma’am, I realize that my home is a single parent home, but it is not a broken home. My home was broken when I lived under the same roof with a husband who verbally and emotionally abused me and who contributed almost nothing to the care of our daughter. That was a broken home. And my experience tells me that there are just as many two parent homes that are broken as there are single parent homes that are broken – maybe even more.” Then I drew myself up straighter and marched myself right out their door.

Yes, I know that the ideal family consists of a father and a mother, both loving and involved in their children’s lives. I want that for myself and my kids more than I can express. But do not assume that because my family isn’t ideal, it’s broken!

A few months ago I had a conversation with a mom about the sports her children play. She indicated that they enjoyed the baseball crowd of parents better than the soccer crowd of parents. “When we’re in the baseball stands, we’re with families that are more like ours – you know, two parent families. For some reason, the soccer stands seem to be full of single moms. You know what I mean.”

Well yes, I do know what she meant. I happen to have been one of those single soccer moms in the stands for two seasons out of every year, for twelve years. I was there every single game, even if it meant standing on the sidelines in a dress and heels because I would have to leave in the 3rd quarter to go perform a wedding or a funeral. I took my share of turns bringing snacks and drinks. I carpooled other kids to and from practices and games. I was team parent several seasons. I even coached one year. In my daughter’s entire soccer career, I missed only one game. She was in 10th grade. It was the first year I participated in the MS Challenge Walk and I had to leave early in the afternoon to make the long trip down for the event. I got a cell phone play-by-play from another soccer mom during the game, and then another one from my daughter after the game.

Do not tell me that because I am a single mom, I am somehow an inferior parent, giving my kids a less-than-ideal home. (Can you tell I feel strongly about this?).

It is true that being a single parent is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It is exhausting. It is stressful. It is overwhelming. I cannot afford all the extracurricular stuff I’d like to provide for them. Our evenings after school/work during the academic year are way too short. I can’t put on the big birthday parties. But I love my children. I take care of my children. I do everything in my power to give them a safe, stable, loving home. Even if it does half kill me some days, I think I do a pretty good job.

Father’s Day was hard for me this year. Anna spent the day in Columbia with her father and grandmother. I am so grateful that she is of the age that I am out of that loop and that she can handle her own meeting plans with him. I spent the day with Gus and Mia, trying to give them a good Father’s Day. They call these days that the three of us play together “Mom and me” days. We ate Mexican. We went to see a movie (Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer). We walked in the mall and bought new things for them to read at the bookstore. We called my dad, whom they call Daddy, and wished him a happy Father’s Day. It was a good day. For them, our life is completely normal. For me, a lucky girl who has a great dad, I know they are missing something I can’t provide by myself. One day I hope that will change, but for now I am The Parent, providing for them the best I can.

Call us a conspicuous family. Call us a unique family. Call us a single-parent family. Just do not call us a broken family. Our home is not broken.


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5 thoughts on “Monday’s Child: Our Home Is Not Broken

  1. Gotta love the total lack of sensitivity displayed by some people.

    One of my own parishioners once responded to my suggestion that we consider moving VBS to a late afternoon/early evening time slot in order to make it easier to find helpers by saying, “Oh, Pastor. If we did that, we'd end up with a bunch of children who have working mothers. I'm not sure we want those children here.”

    And yes, I was a working mother at the time…and, of course, still am.

  2. Not broken at all.

  3. Oh, Beth. That's enough to make a preacher mom speak in tongues, and not the holy kind!

  4. Susan and Songbird – moms and friends like you give me strength on the hard days. They say it takes a community to raise a child. Sometimes it takes a community to support a single mom. Thanks for being my community!

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