Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas and the single parent

Yesterday was Pay it Forward Day and Jill Wirth of the amazing Green Baby Clothing Company posted something on her Facebook wall asking for ideas. I thought about it. What would be a good thing to do on Pay it Forward Day? I wondered.

I came up with some of the usual things I already like to do -- give candy to the person taking tolls on the Turnpike (which I'll do later today as I travel to my mother's in Manheim, PA), give flowers to the cashier at the grocery store, offer to load groceries in the trunk of an elderly shopper's car, etc. Then I thought about single moms. What would they like during the holiday season? A free babysitter, of course! After all, Santa's not making many house calls these days and someone has to do the shopping. So that was my suggestion and a single mom "liked" it.

Have you ever thought about what it is like for single parents during the holidays? Maybe you should.

 Twenty-one years ago, I spent my first Christmas as a single mom. As many of you know, my husband died in September of that year, leaving me to raise two small children alone. I lived 250 miles from my closest relative, so I had to rely heavily on my friends and church family for help. I was blessed because they really came through for me. But some single parents aren't quite as lucky as I was. They are "going it" alone, and that, my friends, should not be the case.

The single mom who "liked" my FB comment was Tanya Curtis. She and I struck up a "conversation" via FB's messages and I asked her to share her story with me, which she graciously did. Now I'd like to share it with you.

Tanya and Rylan Curtis

Tanya is the 28-year-old single mother of Rylan, an adorable three-and-a-half-year-old boy. They live in Newfoundland, Canada. Tanya has never been married and Rylan does not have a daddy. His father left his mother when she was five months pregnant.

That would be enough to make one bitter, don't you think? Well, Tanya is not. She recognizes that her former boyfriend gave her the most precious gift and now she is relieved to be able to raise Rylan on her own, without the negative influence of his father's lifestyle affecting him.

You see, that is what many single parents face -- bad influences, or different values, coming from the other parent and his or her family. It is certainly something to think about when considering a divorce. The whole idea of having to release custody of your children for days on end while they experience things you have no control over. Scary.

Anyway, back to Tanya's story: Rylan is her life, and that's exactly how she wants it. While it sometimes breaks her heart for her child not to have a daddy, she realizes it is simply better that way. And she and her son are fortunate to have her dad, who has overcome some serious medical issues, as a strong father-figure for Rylan.

While some single parents are focused on finding a partner to help share the parenting duties (I admit I was one of them), Tanya is not looking for a relationship at this point. As a matter of fact, she is not even dating. As a stay-at-home-mom, her focus is on her son.

"If there is a man meant to be a part of our lives," she tells me, "he will come when the time is right. Right now, my focus is to raise my child the best I can on my own."

Good for you, Tanya!

"Being a single parent is definitely challenging and perhaps harder than a two-parent family. But it's very rewarding to know that all the impact on my child's life is from me. He's not being tossed between two worlds full of different people who have different values and views on things. He has me and my family and he gets so much love from us alone!"

Of that, I somehow have no doubt.

"He has always been a very happy little boy," she continues, "and I'm sure will always continue to be that way. I love my son with all I have to give. I sacrifice everything for his well being while he's little and will continue to do so until he doesn't need me so much."

Tanya concludes, "I love being a mom and I love being a single mom!"

Does that mean she would turn down an offer of free babysitting so she could give Santa a hand with the shopping for little Rylan? Somehow I think the answer to that is no.

So that is my challenge to those of you in the Green Grandma community. Offer your help to a single parent in your church, neighborhood, workplace or family. What better gift could you give during this season of giving?

God bless you, Tanya...and all your fellow single parents out there who are simply doing their best every day in every possible way.

You are heroes.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much Hana! This piece truly brought tears to my eyes! I love the way you worded everything and I feel blessed to be able to share my story. And thank you all for reading. I know what it is to be a single mom of one, I can't imagine having to do it with more than one so I want to applaude those single moms (or dads in some cases) who are going it alone with one or more kids and do everything they do just for them. :)
    Wishing you all a very safe and Happy Holiday this year and for many more to come. Bless you each and every one. <3
    Thanks again Hana. And feel free to ask questions anyone, I'm an open book and I enjoy sharing my feelings, thoughts and experiences with people. :)


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