I am not a single parent!
I think it is interesting to be a widow in one respect – that of a parent. I feel like I am still married for starters, but I also I am not really parenting alone. Jim’s influence and leadership are still powerfully present in our family. Maybe because I don’t feel “single” in the true sense of the word. I’m not divorced; it’s not like I was Never married. Jim is just gone and now I’m here alone as a parent. I also kind of rebel against the idea of being a single parent. A single parent to me means you are doing the work of both parents because one of the parents is absent…perhaps was never present. And I am learning that being a dad has never been my job nor will it ever be my responsibility. God promises to be a father to the fatherless and Jim still is the father of my children. Though he is no longer actively involved in their daily lives, he does continue to “show up” in surprising ways. This week we uncovered a box of cassette tapes of Jim’s sermons! Cool addition to the legacy!
Maybe it is just semantics, but I cannot call myself a single parent. I am a one parent home. I am parenting solo. I am the living parent because I am a widow. Yes, I am the only “adult” in the household (actually Emily is an adult child). I am the one who now has to “fix” things, take care of things that used to be Jim’s domain. I am the one who pays the bills and the one who helps with homework, doles out advice and cash. I make meals and get the house up and moving all by myself in the morning, in between my shower and getting ready for work. Now my days of tag-team parenting are gone. I may be a lone parent, an available mom, a formerly married mom, a grieving mom, but certainly not a single mom.
I am a mom with a lot to learn. I’ve been spoiled with years of split duties and shared responsibilities. I have been blessed to be able to lean on the strengths of my teammate especially for those areas at which I lack or dislike. I’ve been used to calling out for help when I need it, or when I’m just plain old lazy. There is no one else to shut all of the lights, lock the doors, change the lightbulbs and the printer ink cartridges, unclog the drains, discipline and pray blessings over my kids as they fall asleep.
Instead I think I am going to invent a new term for myself! Technically and legally I may be a single mom but from here on out I am going to call myself an O.P.A.L. (Only Parent At Location). I think there are some similarities to that term and the gemstone of the same name! Just like me, opals exist in living color – there is a rainbow like iridescence which changes colors depending on the angle at which it is viewed. I am not claiming to be a chameleon or wishy-washy but a work in process that is creatively and uniquely multifaceted! Also, opals are medium to soft gems and not hard stones. Because of this, you need to be extra careful with it and care for it so it does not dry out and crack. Similarly, I am working on being more gentle with myself and paying attention to caring for needs that Jim used to meet and take care of.
So, On this day when I am missing my partner in parenting (20 months), I am reinventing myself! I am an Opal! My kids are Oples too! O.P.L.E. (Other Parent Left Earth)! or other parent lives eternally