A week from Sunday we’ll honor our moms on Mother’s Day. About a month later, we’ll do the same for dads. There will be sermons relating to the importance of both. Special meals will follow in honor of that particular parent.
I’ve been a dad for more than 15 years, but I’ve never been a single dad. However, for the past few years I’ve had a taste of it a couple of times in April. This happens when my wife has to be out of town due to her job.
For the last two weeks this has been my life, on my own with four kids. All of them, it’s very important to note, are involved in various sports and activities.
Oh yeah, we also thought getting a puppy a month ago would be a good idea, too.
Maintaining my spiritual walk during this time has been … challenging. I kept going back to Romans 7:15. I knew I ought to do lunches the night before, but didn’t want to. So, they ate more in the school cafeteria than normal. On a similar note I evidently kept getting surprised that dinnertime showed up again each evening, having not prepared for it.
Before you get the wrong picture, I did some things right. We actually did have meals at home, and not in front of the TV out of a sack. They were in the dining room, with prayer time that included how we missed mommy.
But there were the other days, such as the one where ballet, baseball, and soccer all mashed into one frenetic evening. Dinner became Domino’s in the van as we drove from one spot to the other, kids chugging Coke Zeros (That counts for responsible, right?) out of the cooler as we made our way to each stop.
In my home office I keep two cards with Scripture on my desk. I see them often, and boy did I need them during this time.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. ~Colossians 3:23-24
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. ~Ephesians 2:8
This first reminded me to never give up on my work as a father. It’s an honor and responsibility to have that role. The second gave me the assurance that despite my many mistakes, grace remains there for me.
Single parents, I don’t know how you do it. Every week, on your own. As I write this (Friday, May 4), my wife will return this afternoon and things get back to what we call normal. My partner in life comes home.
Just a couple of weeks gave me a new appreciation for you. Even though I was tired, I stayed up later to have more time to myself. But, I woke up earlier to have my devotion. That was difficult because … a puppy. (Puppies get really hyper after being cooped up for seven hours. Did you know that?)
Maybe I’d rise to the challenge. But, I see the potential for a lot of stress, lack of exercise due to time constraints, and a stack of restaurant takeout boxes in the fridge should this be life day in, day out.
In 2016 the U.S. Census Bureau placed the number of children living in single-parent homes at more than 20 million. That number represents a lot of moms and dads doing this parent thing largely on their own.
Churches, don’t overlook these people. There’s a reason you get a lot of kids during Vacation Bible School who you never see any other time. And though sure, your VBS may be serving as a de facto day care, you also know the eternal impact it brings. That’s not just for the children, either. That message goes home with them.
This also points to the need for student ministry. Whichever parent these homes are missing, you have the volunteers to fill that role. No, you’re not their parent. But, you’re a mentor. You’re someone who shows them what a life in Christ is like.
There’s some extra credit to dole out to these moms and dads, balancing their own lives with that of their kids and extended family, including exes. If you want to honor the work of all mothers and fathers this year, don’t forget the extra-wide gap in which single parents stand.