When I was at church once without the children, the worship leader asked me after the service who I was. She said that although I looked familiar she didn’t recognise me without my two children. How often do I not recognise me without my children? Take away the label of mother – and taxi, cook, cleaner, homework assistant, behavioural therapist, referee and what is left? I define myself by the roles I fulfil, not by who I really am.
My blog ‘8 steps to see yourself as a family – not a broken one’ asked the question, ‘As a single parent do you see yourself as incomplete?’ The photo comes from a collection called ‘wholeness’
Here’s two steps to live a whole life as a single parent (also applies to all parents).
- Find and live who you are created to be
- Believe you are whole person
Who are you without your kids?
As a parent your role will always be that of parent. Your children will always be a priority in your life … but you are whole without them. You need to live your purpose as a role model encouraging them to do the same, and not be co-dependent, pulling your love and life purpose from them.
It has taken me a long time to fully find myself beyond being a single parent.
Step 1: Find and live who you are created to be
It’s not an either/or choice between parenting and purpose. It’s a yes to purpose but with the support of others to take some of the load, releasing you to live your purpose. This is why you need community; community who sees your strengths, will support your weakness, and help you live your purpose. Don’t follow my example and do both leading to burn out. Live as the person you were created to be including being a single parent. Parenting- investing in your children – is part of your purpose.
Need some help finding your purpose? click here
Do you need someone to complete you?
Overheard conversation: What attracted you to your new boyfriend; ‘His house’.
Many single parents can be consciously and unconsciously driven to find a partner to meet their financial and security needs – to help provide for the family, to share the load of parenting and discipline. Someone to look after the kids that doesn’t have to be paid. Someone to cover the pain of loss and loneliness. In their brokenness and need they maybe choosing an unhealthy relationship just to have one.
Over 90% of single parents were part of a couple so probably didn’t plan on parenting on their own.1 As a single parent family you are complete and as a single parent you are complete, although today’s language can make you feel like you are incomplete. When people refer to their partner as ‘my better half’ or ‘my other half,’ this implies single people are incomplete – a half person waiting for their other half to be complete, to become one, to be whole.
You don’t need anyone else to complete you. One is a whole number (ask any mathematician).
My experience of wholeness
This section contains Christian content! I’m reading a book at the moment by Ann Voskamp called, The Broken Way. I always knew saying ‘yes’ to Jesus was more than a ticket to heaven. It was the forgiveness of my sins by His dying on the Cross. I am learning it includes entering into a union with Him, like in a marriage where everything is held in common. All the good things of Christ’s are mine, and He takes all of me – my bad and broken included.
Three quotes from her book:
When we’re rejected and abandoned and feel beyond wanting, Jesus cups our face: “Come close, my Beloved.” When we’re dirty and tear-stained and despairing, Jesus Christ is attracted to us and proposes undying love: “All that you’re carrying I take…and all that I am is yours?” 2
The pieces of me, the shards I didn’t know how to gather together, the ache that kept me up at night, that I didn’t even have words for – none of the pieces of me would find peace – until I could see and feel and experientially enter into the reality of my union with Christ. Peace isn’t a place – it’s a Person.3 (My emphasis in bold.)
…his miraculous embrace that can end our abandonment, our aloneness. It’s this enveloping relationship of the outstretched cross, sharing in the oneness of the very life of Christ.4
Step 2: Believe you are a whole person
Hollywood tells us we need another person to complete us, our soul mate. This is not true.
You are whole. You do not need another person to complete you.
Putting legs on it
What is your purpose?
What support do you need to live it? Who can support you?
Where do you find your worth and wholeness? How can you change your mental image of yourself to reflect that you are whole?
- HILDA Melbourne University (2016) The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings from Waves 1 to 14 p19 https://www.melbourneinstitute.com/downloads/hilda/Stat_Report/statreport_2016.pdf
- Voskamp, A (2016) The Broken Way, Zondervan, U.S.A, p46
- Voskamp, A (2016) The Broken Way, Zondervan, U.S.A, p47
- Voskamp, A (2016) The Broken Way, Zondervan, U.S.A, p48
Photocredit: Tim Stief unsplash.com (from a collection called Wholeness)