It's another one of those significant dates.
May 7, 2011 would have been, should have been, my 18th wedding anniversary.
I am very bad with dates. The entire time I was married, I had trouble remembering my anniversary. That might be because we eloped. But no, I think it was just because I usually don't have a clue what today's date is, let alone what date I did something last week or last year or last decade. However, I've noticed that when significant dates approach, I get a bit moody, so I must know somewhere deep inside.
This year, I haven't been too moody. Perhaps a bit more quiet than usual, but not really sad or depressed or angry. Just....pensive. Actually, "pensive" might be overstating it. I have just been unusually aware of my status as a single mom this past week.
You know, being a single mom really isn't a bad thing. It's not ideal, not the way God created it to be, but it's also not the end of the world. For that matter, it's not even the end of our family. If anything, my kids and I have grown closer, become more of a team than we would've been otherwise, I think.
So today I will list some of the blessings that have come from our "broken" family. (I like lists!)
1. My kids are learning to be independent. Because as a single mom, I can't possibly do it all myself, they need to help out. Additionally, one of the few areas of parenting my ex and I disgreed on was the need to train our children to be independent. He felt that we should do all that we could for them; I felt that we should train them to do as much as they could for themselves. Since they live with me, I have the opportunity to train them in such skills as cooking, household chores, and as much as possible, household maintenance.
2. My kids have a deeper sense of compassion for others than they might have otherwise. They are living out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (NIV)
All four of my kids are quick to notice when a friend is hurting and to want to comfort that friend.
3. My kids have made some friends that they might not have otherwise. Not only do they tend to gravitate towards other kids from single parent homes, but we have also been able to hang out at a local cafe where ministry happens naturally. We wouldn't have been able to do this as easily with my ex-husband's work schedule and preferences for leisure-time activities. My kids have made friends of all different ages and backgrounds there at the cafe.
4. My kids have had to learn that money doesn't grow on trees. We went from six of us living on my ex-husband's six-figure income to five of us living on less than half of what his take-home pay was five years ago. This has forced us to learn to live within our means, to swallow our pride and accept help when we need it, and to find creative ways to earn money for the things that matter to us. For that matter, this has taught my kids about priorities and about differentiating between "wants" and "needs." These lessons will serve them well in the lean years that often accompany young adulthood.
5. My kids have developed a close bond with one another. When my ex wanted to take just the younger two to Canada, my oldest son insisted that he needed to go along to "take care of" his younger siblings. My oldest son has also taken on the role of "protector" of his sisters. He does an excellent job of it! Also, since there is only one chauffeur (that would be me) in our one-vehicle family, when one or two of the kids have an activity, the other two or three often get to spend time alone together while I run my taxi service, resulting in bonds between each pair of siblings.
Not bad for a "broken" family, is it? We are blessed indeed! :-)