What’s a single mom to do?

I have the world’s best ex-husband. It’s true. Sure, we have our problems, and  those problems, within the realm of marriage, are significant – that’s why he’s my EX-husband. But, I’m lucky that we have the weirdly cordial relationship we have. Besides the fact that it’s healthier for our kids, it’s also a huge help at church.

Disney Family Vacation - AFTER the divorce was in motion

We’ve made the conscious choice to continue going to Messiah. BOTH of us. And we’re both involved there. David is on the Chrysalis board and the pastor’s mutual ministry team. I mean, we’re making this “separately together” thing look so easy that he’s my go-to guy on the Marketing Team. I have no doubt that people at church probably think we’re two of the strangest individuals they’ve ever met. We sit on the same pew (it helps corral the kiddos) and sit out on the deck and chat before Sunday School. I’m sure they’re wondering…. if they get along so well, why not stay married? I’ll let you in on a secret, we get along so well precisely because we’re not married. We started out as friends, and if it weren’t for two deliciously sweet and silly sisters, I would say it should have remained just a close friendship. But, I know our situation isn’t normal, furthermore, I know that most single moms do the church thing flying solo. What I want to know is, how?

I just finished leading a 7-week Tuesday night Bible study. It was a small turnout, too small to justify hiring a babysitter, especially since it was just MY two kids there, spinning around the floor of the Fellowship Hall like out-of-control tops. Messiah was already losing out on the cost of food and study materials, so, it just made sense not to pay someone to keep the kids. David did that, instead. He ran after them, read to them, kept them from destroying the new Messiah library, and made sure they ate their dinner. I couldn’t have led Beta without him.

I serve on the Church Council, I teach Sunday School sometimes, I have worked on Outreach, I head up the Marketing Team and most recently led Beta. I might like to be in choir or help with Sacred Edge or start a college and career group or lead a small group in-home study, but I don’t think those things are compatible with being a single mom. I already have to find childcare, many times because there is none available for council meetings, marketing meetings, etc. What’s a single mom to do that doesn’t have a willing partner to take care of the kids? Are they supposed to stay out of ministry because of their status as a single?

There’s a stigma attached to divorce. Someone reading this is going to judge me for not sticking with it for the children, or because of what it says in the Bible or because of their own personal achievement over marital disappointments, but I would suggest holding off on judgement, because the story is longer than the 700 words in this post. My point isn’t to talk about divorce, it’s to ask what the Church is doing to support single parents who are supporting the ministry of the Church.

All churches, if they are trying to grow, are probably looking to grow from the middle – with young families. Young families have small children, and with young couples and small children, come grandparents and extended family. If yours is a church that is growing by adding in young families, there needs to be programs in place to support those families. Education programs and fellowship events are going to draw even more young families, but it’s also going to bring in people like me… single mothers. It’s going to draw in people like my friend Robert … single dads. We want to help grow the church for the Kingdom of God, too. We don’t want to be a drain; we want to do our part.

We can’t do our part, be the hands and feet of Christ, if those hands are holding apart our feuding offspring and our feet are chasing after escapee toddlers. What’s a single mom to do without a David? What’s a single dad to do without an ex-wife like me, who’ll keep the kids during your meetings at the church? What can we do to make chairing a committee possible? What can we do to make spearheading a major event possible? What can we do to make full participation by single parents possible in today’s church?

** Happy Birthday, David! You smell…………. like a toad.

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15 responses to “What’s a single mom to do?

  1. I go to a small church with very few programs. While they occassionally offer childcare for events (parents volunteer on a rotating basis), I don’t feel that I can take advantage of them due to my child and his cousin who I would have to place down there. I am lucky for Sunday mornings to have my mother, aunt and sisters with me. On days that for whatever reason, I am going to be the only one in church with the boys I will not go. I just can’t take them both without going mad. 😛

    At my old church, there was more in place for parents to make participation available. I was in choir and handbells, and took the monkey to the nursery. Now that he is older, he would have gone to the various programs that they offer for kids in conjunction with adult activities.

    I miss being involved, but with my situation & my church I don’t see anything changing soon.

    • Thanks, Brooke. I hate to think the talents and time and heart of single parents is going to waste in our churches, because there is no way for them to serve AND be parents, simultaneously. I don’t want to wait until my children are grown to start serving. I want to show them that performing acts of ministry (even in the sometimes tedious jobs of the church) is not something we do if we have time, it’s part of our job as Christians.

      I also don’t think churches can afford to be picky… too few people are already doing too much of the work.

  2. Good post Kristin…thanks for the kind words. I know that we don’t always see eye to eye, but I do know that we both love our kids to death, and I’m glad that you are their mom. We both want the best for our kids…I know it is probably weird for some to see, but it works for us, and I think the kids are happier for it. Thanks again!

  3. This is sweet and all about you and your ex, so nice that you guys can be reasonable and work together, kuddos to you both! And the need for families & churches to have great supports systems… You make good points, you sound like a smart young woman. But my guess about why it works with you and him at least right now; because neither of you have new signifigant others sitting there with you. When you to decide to get on with your lives…let the trauma begin.

    Well wishes, but situations like this is why God tells us in advance all about marriage and it’s ups and downs and gives us rules. I’m praying for both of you and for your girls, (are either of you children of divorice, because You can’t deny the trauma of even a civil divorice, but the scars are visible especially when new families are started) especially for the girls…

    • Thanks for the advice and prayers. I’m also thankful that it’s the lowly and repentant who will receive God’s grace and salvation. I’ll raise my hand first when asked “Who among you is a sinner.” I’m not proud of the mistakes I’ve made, and, trust me, I have spent many a restless nigh thinking of how my children will cope and react to the failings of their father. However, I’m constantly striving to be better, and I keep asking God for forgiveness; to save me from my stupid self sometimes. God uses the weak and sinful…while I may not be perfect, I find comfort that God has repeatedly chosen the fallen to lead his people. My children are happier since the divorce. I can see it in their eyes…it’s not perfect, but we make it work. They know we love them, and I’d like to think that’s all that matters. I hope they learn from my mistakes, and I pray that God uses me in whatever capacity He needs. Thank goodness the message on the pulpit speaks truth into my heart…we are a club for “losers,” but also a community of believers who can turn this world inside out and make sinners into saints.

  4. I am a child and divorce and am not traumatized. There are a lot of really awful parents out there who stay together for their entire lives. Likewise, there are parents like you two, who in the face of unidealistic circumstances, divorce or otherwise, have the best interests of their children at heart. It might be quirky, but if it’s working for you and the kids are doing well, then go with it. God bless.

    • Thanks, Danica! I’m a child of divorce, too, and my parents get along really well. I was not aware, until I was an adult, of any animosity they had ever had toward one another. I just loved them both. My mom and stepmom are good friends, have planned events together (for my half-sister’s wedding, how’s that?) and visited one another’s homes on countless occasions. I can’t imagine it any differently, and I dont want it to be any more difficult than that for my kids.
      I don’t think divorce is ideal, but I think we can show grace… always grace, to one another.

  5. I was thinking of Brooke when I read this! We find similar difficulties in our family as well. To minister we constantly have to sacrifice something we love…usually time with each other, though these days we have been sacrificing ministry we love so that the other parent can minister. We take turns keeping the kids for each other while we serve (or begging my parents for help) but in the end, when one of us is on the stage playing music (not me!) and the other is leading a class, we have trouble getting the kids and actually taking care of them. I took last year off of everything, and this year Daniel is doing the same and I get to serve again.

    Finding childcare at church is really difficult. I used to be part of that team! It seems once your kids are big enough to not need a sitter, you no longer volunteer to help sit. But when your kids are little enough for you to still emphathize with mommies they are little enough to be sick frequently so that you aren’t available with regularity.

    Thanks for the reminder that I need to pray for the Church (Universal and not just mine) to develop compassion to mothers, both single and with husbands who just aren’t available much.

    Traci

    • I’m sorry that it has to be that way for couples, too. It does seem like too few people in churches get excited enough about ministry that we have to spread those who are willing so thin.

      I’m a jumper-inner, though. I want to jump headlong into everything because I’m so excited about what’s going on there, that I don’t always plan ahead for things like … and what will the girls be doing while I’m going over the budget with a fine-toothed comb?

  6. On so many levels, this is a beautiful post! Bravo, Kristin! (and a happy belated birthday, David!

  7. Pingback: 10 Things I learned this weekend « Messiah Mom

  8. I know I am late to the comment party on this one…by several months, but I came over here because of today’s post and the reference to this post in it. I am a single mother with a not so good relationship with my son’s dad. Not to mention that he is living in another city and is not a Godly influence on our son, to which my son laments daily. I am blessed that my family live in the same town and go to teh same church as I do. But even with all of their help, there are still things that I cannot do; like go to most of the Bible studies or the mom’s prayer meetings each week. It’s extremely hard to do it alone and I know how much harder it would be if my family were not close by. I am glad to hear that you and your ex have a good relationship after the divorce and that you work so well together. That will be great for the kids, especially in the long run!

    • Thanks, April. We obviously don’t always get along so well (hence, the ex 😉 ) but we decided long ago that our children were more important to us than any lingering animosity toward one another. I don’t know why it has to be so difficult to combine the single-parent thing with the church thing, but it is.

      I will be praying for you and your situation, that God will strengthen those relationships, because he can and a happy, healthy and spiritually healthy son is the best result.

  9. Pingback: How not to remain friends with your ex | Messiah Mom

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