The Overwhelmed Single Parent

Illustration of woman feeling her strong bicep
Chris Sandlin

Last week everything seemed to go wrong at my house. Add one dental emergency, three sick children, one wet basement and two unexpected medical bills to the everyday stress of single parenting, and it's all just a giant train wreck. I most definitely don't have a handle on this life. I'm not even touching the handle. Is there a handle?

 As the mother of five children, I've learned that this single-parenting life isn't about me doing something — or anything — perfectly. The reality is, I wasn't made to be both Mom and Dad, and neither were you. But I've learned a few things that help me face life's challenges:

Accept and ask for help

Step out of your comfort zone and allow others to alleviate some of the stress so you can focus on what's really important. If you can get some of the house, car and yard stuff dealt with, you can spend more time walking your sweet babes through this crazy life.

Laugh — and receive God's grace

Sometimes my life seems absurd, and the only proper response is laughter, especially when I find my girls decorating our guinea pig with glitter, glue and feathers. Of course there are days when it's harder to laugh, but God is showing me that He will strengthen me for all that lies ahead in life and give me grace to handle each challenge.

Forget the perfect spiritual scenario

Finding the energy to pursue spiritual things the way I would like is tough. I've learned that spiritual leadership really just requires a heart that's open to what God is doing in my family. I might not be able to prepare a daily devotion to bless each child, but I can share with them what God has been showing me.

Be available for God to use you

My prayers are no longer that I can be a better mom and get it all together. Now my prayers are that God would love my children through me. I pray they would know that He is enough and that He can do amazing things in their lives, hearts and minds.

I wish I had more to give my children than my exhausted, overwhelmed, single-mommy self — but this is all I got. All I got . . . and Jesus. And when I consider Him, that's a lot! 

This article appeared in the March/April 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was titled "Exhausted and Overwhelmed." It was adapted from When Happily Ever After Shatters. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2013 by Sue Birdseye. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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