I wake up most every day with an overwhelming sense of gratitude because I’m married to a lovely, loving man who is not only my life partner but also a tremendous dad to our kids. And yet by 7 o’clock on most nights, I often feel like a single mom.
My husband leaves for work at 8:30 a.m. or so and doesn’t get back until 10 or 11 hours later. When he gets home, he usually has another hour or so of work in him, and he generally works for a portion of both weekend days, too. I work full time from home, while also caring nearly full time for our 2-year-old, not to mention our 5-year-old, who gets home from kindergarten in the late afternoon. While I know I have my husband’s undying emotional support, his physical presence is what I usually want even more — and especially when I’m exhausted, which sometimes feels like always. There are times when I secretly think my life is similar to that of a single parent.
Except, really, it’s not.
I can feel sorry for myself all I want, but the fact is that I have a tremendous co-parent, and even if he’s not around nearly as much as I’d like, he’s still there. Plus, there’s the psychological side to it, which is knowing he’s there if I really, really need him. Many single parents simply cannot say the same. There’s a financial burden of raising kids on your own. Then there’s the mental burden, which can be equally daunting.
A mom in Raleigh, North Carolina, is in the middle of a messy divorce while raising her 4-year-old daughter “with bullying tendencies,” according to Gawker (via ABC11.com) as well as a 6-year-old son with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD, plus she has a child in college who was “forced” to take a year off from school — all while the family has also had to move several times.
On Friday nights, the woman and her kids go out to eat. She recently took them to a local Pizza Hut after picking up her youngest from daycare and her middle child from school. When her son’s medication started to wear off, she apologized to a single man sitting near them for her tired and loud kids. He said he understood since he had kids and could relate — and then he finished his meal and left soon thereafter.
That’s when a waitress and manger came over to the family’s table and let them know the man at the neighboring table had paid for their meal, left them with a Pizza Hut gift card and wrote them a note. It said:
“I do not know your back story, but I have had the privilege of watching you parent your children for the past 30 minutes. I have to say thank you for parenting your children in such a loving manner.
I have watched you teach your children about the importance of respect, education, proper manners, communication, self control, and kindness all while being very patient. I will never cross your path again but am positive that you and your children have amazing futures.
Keep up the good work and when it starts to get tough do not forget that others may be watching and will need the encouragement of seeing a good family being raised. God bless! -Jake”
It’s people like Jake,and women like this mom who make me even more grateful — for my life, yes, but also that there are people out there who are working hard to do well by others, whether it’s their own kids or even total strangers. It’s not so much that this woman’s dinner was paid for (although that, too) but the kind words that the man had about this woman’s parenting style and that he took the time to relay them directly to her.
I don’t need to be a single mom to know that acknowledging someone leading their kids in the right direction can mean the world. But as a mom who has help, limited as it may feel at times, I can only imagine that if I were really doing it alone, I would want all the encouragement I could get.
Click here to see the note: Stranger pays for single mom’s dinner
Photo credit: iStockphoto
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