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Saturday, June 7, 2014

A note to young, single moms

I woke up this morning, back aching, in a tangled mess of blankets, sheets, feet, and arms. Clinging to my side of the bed, I rolled over and put my arms around my 5 year old youngest daughter, who was already engulfed in her daddy's arms. She turned to me with a sleepy smile, her lion's mane of messy auburn hair all over the place, and said, "You both gots me." 

My heart swelled up and I squeezed her close, and emotion swept over me. In the midst of my feelings of wholeness and thankfulness, I suddenly thought of my 13 year old daughter. And immediately I grieved. I grieved for her the fact that she didn't have the same security in her very early years. 

A child should have both parents arms around them as they grow. I believe that with all my heart. But, too often, that's not the case. It wasn't the case for my oldest daughter. Her dad and I finally ended our tumultuous marriage for good when she was just shy of three. I tried so hard to make just my arms enough for her. I stretched them as far as I could, but I couldn't stop her longing for her Daddy. I still can't! And when she was with him she fought her need to be in my arms still. I was her safety and her security. Children of divorce feel less like both parent's arms are holding them and more like both parents arms are pulling them apart - no matter how amicable the situation is. 

It pains me to my core to think of the emotional scars that my oldest will always live with. The tears in her security net caused by two adults who just couldn't get things straight. I've forgiven her dad and I've forgiven myself. But, still I wish she'd started out with all the stability that my baby has had. 

I can't wallow in that too much, though. That was a long time ago and I did my best. That's what I want to say to moms who are following behind me on that road. It feels so often like your best isn't enough! You're exhausted, you're worried, and you're trying to stretch your whole self to do a two person job - you feel "less than" every single day. But, you're not! It gets better. Your children find their way. But, more importantly, you find your way as a parent. The relationship I have with my oldest is unique in a way I can't even explain. I was her everything and she was my everything. We did a lot of growing up together. I look at her now, 13 and head strong, secure in her own skin, bold, and funny! I did that! I pulled her through the hard times just like she pulled me through! And, we're okay now. We have the same scars, but we are whole and functioning. 

So, when your arms alone feel like they are not enough, know that they really are. Just keep reaching! You may feel like you are about to break, but you can do it! And nothing I've ever done in my life has been more rewarding.