Thoughts Before Pascha

In my last post, I talked about how I wanted to focus more on prayer and charity for Lent. Did I ever get my wish. This Lent has been a particularly roller coaster time. Sorrows Lent began this year with the news that one of my cousins had successfully made a harrowing escape from Ukraine where he had been teaching English, and was safe, for the moment, in Poland. The whole family breathed a collective sigh of relief and offered various prayers of thanksgiving. Only a few days later, his mother died, and we were taken from the highs of…

When Lent Is Challenging The Little Things Matter Most

This past week the children and I commented that “suddenly” we find ourselves nearer the end of Lent than the beginning. All the one-day-at-a-times and one-prayer-at-a-times have strung together several weeks of “good struggle” and here we are, prepared or not, approaching Palm Sunday and another Pascha. Whether this Lent has been deeply challenging or a mostly-missed season for you, we single parents have been juggling the gratitude-to-complaint continuum right along with you’all! From car breakdowns to illnesses, bills piling up and job changes, family and ex conflict struggles and new levels of forgiveness Lent never fails to challenge us…

A Single Parent Psalm for Lent

The struggle is real. For every one of us during Lent—single parent or not. And yet for us single moms and single dads there are nuanced layers that sometimes threaten to swamp us with otherness. Our marathon isn’t unique—we struggle with the same passions and temptations as everyone. Yet, when we go home to our children after work the partner-less, half-empty house seems to point at our failures in an unavoidable way. Scarlet letter anyone? Every single mom and single dad I’ve spoken with longs to be seen while striving to be invisible at the exactly the same time. Of…

Lenten Thoughts

Here it is again, looming over us like a giant behemoth. Great Lent. Every year I see memes and cartoons about Lent sneaking up on us almost as if to intentionally spoil our joy. And to be honest, some days it does feel like that. But the longer I am Orthodox, the more I appreciate what Lent both teaches us and allows us to do, namely take the focus off of self. As much as I appreciate Lent, I do find myself filled with anxiety. What will I eat? Will my son participate with me now that he’s a teenager?…

Finding the Holy When Humbled

When you’re a single parent, you often get used to the idea of having to do everything yourself. You become a paragon of the rugged individualist with a do-it-yourself mentality. A lot can be said for that lifestyle, especially when it’s lived within a like-minded community. The trick to living that lifestyle, though, is knowing when you can do it yourself, and when to ask for help. Too often, single parents forget that second step. I know I am especially guilty of forgetting. For some of us it’s a matter of pride. For others, we don’t want to be a…

Theme: Worries About Our Children’s Safety

The worries we carry for our children are almost too numerous to count. Time with the other parent I watch as their car drives off. My child waves madly out the window, big smile on their face. I smile and wave back, hiding the tears that threaten to fall. It’s been months since my ex chose to actually use their visitation rights, but for some reason they’ve shown up this time. As the car disappears down the street, silence settles around me, and with it comes worry. Our children’s experiences at school and with their friends My child is no…

All Alone Without A Service in Sight on Theophany

The wisest way to proceed in life, I’ve often been advised, is to go slowly. Don’t make impulsive decisions. Don’t respond to emails immediately. Set down that phone and PRAY before you reply to a text. And. Attend services every chance you get. If that’s the only advise I ever receive from my confessor I’d be well counseled and just as “falling short” as ever! It seems that I’m always behind, rushing to catch up and never, ever the calm, collected, prayerfully peaceful individual I daily ask God to create in me. This New Year is no exception and I…

Christmas – New Years – Begin Again

The famous quote “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” is such a familiar refrain for those of us who’ve been single parents for longer than a minute that it nearly goes without saying. Somewhere between “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and “if I expect little I’m not disappointed” the faith component of “one-day-at-a-time” living is often overshadowed by a sense of despair rather than the beauty of surrender. And yet, the cliche rings true for most of us. When you’re going through … Just like the thoughts that come when someone says “I…

Nativity – The Light in the Darkness

Fear of the Dark When I was young, my family took a trip to New Mexico. While there, we toured Carlsbad Caverns. One of the things I remember most about that tour was when the park ranger turned off the lights. There we stood, darkness all around us. In hindsight, the lights were not off for all that long, but it was the first time I had experienced true darkness. No streetlights or moon and stars to give a faint glow. Only emptiness, silence, and the feeling of darkness becoming palpable, real, an entity to itself. I remember thinking that…

Remedies for Loneliness

Since writing the post on Loneliness — the theme picked as most-vital for single parents in the Facebook group when we first began the Living Water blog — both single parents and those who love us have challenged me with the question “So what now?”   Simply acknowledging our ostracization, isolation and deep loneliness is a mere bandaid when we wake up alone every morning and go to bed alone every night. Reminding ourselves (or worse, when other well-intentioned folks tell us directly) that everyone feels alone and many others besides single parents feel ostracized and isolated—think of parents of…