When you’re raising kids on your own, you are a downright super hero. Making sure everyone gets to where they need to be, with all of their equipment and paperwork and lunches and gym shoes, is absolutely a Herculean effort. Even an average Tuesday can rock the socks right off of you at times.
I know you’re strong and quite capable, but when is the last time you let someone help you out and do you a favor or two? I hope you are saying yes to offers of help and not letting pride prevent you from experiencing one of the greatest joys we can receive—help in times of need. I have been a single parent for many, many years. One of the main reasons I’ve come through to the other side is because I chose to accept the kindness of friends. Here’s a short highlight reel.
When my boys were small, we lived in a terrific neighborhood and had quite possibly the best next-door neighbors. An older couple with adult kids, Meg and Gene loved my babies so much; they practically fought over who got to hold them. Many a Saturday afternoon was spent passing one of the boys over the fence for them to love up and cuddle. If my mower quit, Gene had his over for me to borrow before I could ask. On long, dark winter nights, they would ring me up to come over so I could get a break from entertaining my boys. Many a late Sunday afternoon, Meg would hand me—right over my white picket fence—a tart glass of Chardonnay, covered in plastic wrap and secured with a rubber band to be sipped luxuriously after the boys had gone to bed. While you could say I was lucky to have them next door (and I was), I also had to do my part: being open to receiving their friendship and generosity.
Sometimes, I had to get out of my own way first. For instance, while we didn’t stray too far from home those days, as it honestly felt like more work than it was worth, we did venture on some road trips to see friends and family. My college roommate lives about four hours away, but making the trip felt like going across the country. However, once we got there, it was worth it! Having an extra set of eyes on my boys was a huge relief. One of my favorite memories was the time Kristi insisted I retreat to the master bath to spend some time in the luxurious whirlpool bathtub. She filled the tub with fragrant bubbles, placed a full glass of wine on the edge of the tub and sent me upstairs with strict instructions to soak for a good long time, while she and her family played with my boys.
During the 2009 recession, when the boys were teens, I went through a job layoff. I limped along with unemployment and my life-saving emergency fund; but money was extra tight, and I had two hungry teenage boys at home. One night at church, my dear friend Deb was admiring my Bible cover. She asked to see it and while she was checking that out, I got distracted, talking to some other friends. It was only later that I discovered Deb faked her interest in my Bible in order to slip a few gift cards into it for gas and groceries. I wept upon discovering her act of kindness when I could have refused it by insisting she take them back, knowing money was tight for her already.
Yes, I have been extremely blessed by the love and thoughtfulness of those around me. But I also had to be willing to accept acts of love and service with an open heart and a smiling face. I know my sons have witnessed all of this goodness and my response to it. It has shaped their hearts into being givers themselves. We pay it forward when we can, spreading love and kindness to others going through their own rough patch. So promise me this: stop being stubborn; let others help you, knowing that we are all here to support and uplift each other.
About Renee Brown
Renee Brown is the tired yet happy mother of two young adult sons, Sam and Zachary. Almost an empty nester, she loves sharing her single parent experiences with the goal of providing hope and encouragement to those struggling on that “long and winding road.” Renee lives in Minneapolis, works in advertising, and also blogs for Your Teen magazine.