We all know “it takes a village” to raise a child (or two, or three…), but no one understands that better than a single parent.
Whether we are 100 percent alone in raising our kids or we share custody to some extent, we all spend more time than we should worrying about filling the gaps we perceive in our children’s lives. But for those of us with a good network, there are no gaps. I hear over and over from other parents (married or single), teachers, friends, coworkers, etc., that I have great kids. They’re happy, well behaved, good students and have friends themselves – what more could I ask for? I DO have great kids of course, but at least some of that credit goes to my village.
We can’t all be experts in everything. Just recently, one friend asked his teenaged son to help my daughter get some software set up on her computer (do any of us parents really understand the Minecraft craze?!?!?). When we took her laptop to their house, my friend was so irritated by how slow it ran that he upgraded her memory as well.
What was intended to be a quick installation turned into a several day affair, including two teenaged boys entertaining my 10- and 6-year-old kids. My little guy was so thrilled to have older kids (Can I even call them kids at 17 and 19?) playing “boy” computer games with him. My daughter was so grateful to have someone fill in that “gap” in mom’s (lack of) computer expertise. She cooked them all dinner as a thanks (and what man doesn’t appreciate a home cooked meal?).
Another male friend recently came with me to cheer on my son at one of his soccer games. This kid absolutely LOVES soccer, and he’s never once complained, but I hate that it seems like every other player has two parents supporting them from the sidelines. We always go to practice early, so we can kick the ball around together before the rest of the team arrives. We practice at home and at parks too, because I never want him to feel like something is missing for him.
It meant so much to me for him to have an adult male there for him – and he was so excited about it as well! He’s proud of himself (as he should be) and wants to show off his skills to everyone.
After the game, I went to help out another mom friend – she is the owner of the newly opened Primrose School in Apex. That same Saturday was the school's grand opening celebration. She had asked for volunteers to dress as their mascot and entertain the kids. I was apparently the fool of the day.
I love being around kids and making them smile, so how could I pass up the chance to do just that, while helping out a dear friend? She called me her “hero” for tromping around in a rooster costume all day, but I don’t think she realizes how much impact she has had on my life. This is the same friend who, years ago, welcomed me into the single parents group and helped me get involved in this network I adore so much now.
My soccer spectator friend came along to Primrose because he didn’t want to miss the chance to see me dressed as a rooster. Little did he know he would end up spending the day there as well, entertaining the “big kids” (including mine) with endless games of Four Square and Dance Revolution. (Extra bonus points to him for trying to compete with the tween girls in a dance competition!).
All of these stories are things that have occurred in just the past month. I couldn’t begin to count how many awesome ways other single parent friends have supported my children and me - and hopefully the reverse as well. That’s not to say my other friends aren’t just as wonderful, but there is something special about the way us single parents just “get it” and step up without hesitation.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She is an active member and former organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly.