31 January 2005

Single...With Children: Take Advantage of Community Support

Group offers assistance to single moms

Single... with Children


Publication Date: 11/08/00

Did you ever have a day when the first thing you see upon awaking is that your dog has thrown up on your comforter? Or maybe you avoided that discovery only to go downstairs and find someone left the door ajar in your car and the battery is dead, and of course, you have to be somewhere in 15 minutes? Did you ever discover that your child volunteered you to send two dozen homemade brownies to school for a teacher appreciation party, and you learn of this as you are leaving to take him to school?

Life is filled with moments like I mentioned above. Of course, there are those days when everything in your life runs like a well-oiled machine, and you hit all your cues and make all your marks. It's just that sometimes there's a real run of "glitches" and every now and then it can feel very overwhelming.

In Gilda Radner's book, "It's Always Something," in which she wrote so eloquently about her battle with ovarian cancer, she talked at length about how the most important part of dealing with her devastating illness was the positive energy she tapped into through a support group. In fact, for weeks she had reluctantly agreed to attend the meetings, feeling as though the last thing she wanted was to find herself in a room filled with people in various stages of cancer.

What she discovered was quite the opposite. Instead of depression, she discovered hope. The point is that when groups of people journeying through sometimes daunting situations get together and share, a lot of wonderful things can happen. The same thing is true for single parents. Even though the last thing you might need on your calendar is another appointment, it could very well be that the additional appointment of attending a support group could literally change you life.

Now I don't mean to imply that single parenting is anything resembling the terror and fear of dealing with a life-threatening diagnosis. However, from the many people I've talked to who do deal with the day-to-day strain of going to work, making sure the kids are where they need to be, squeezing in the visit to the pediatrician's office for a cold that won't resolve, juggling an already overloaded schedule to piano lessons, soccer games and track meets, there are times when we all feel like throwing our hands up and saying "That's it! I really can't do this anymore. I'm spent."

Realistically, and quite fortunately, parenting doesn't allow us that luxury. And somehow, most days, in spite of feeling ourselves spread as thin as water, we manage to meet most, if not all, of the parenting obligations, only to fall into our beds late at night and wonder how in the world we did everything.

After a few months of a schedule like this, it's no wonder that many of us feel the pangs of burnout, a lot like a dog chasing his own tail with no hope of ever catching up. This can lead to depression, fatigue and a sinking self-esteem, none of which is a very healthy state to be leading a family. It's at those times that we need to step back and take a personal emotional inventory.

We all know the benefits of support groups for any range of human conditions. It's well documented that attending support groups can be helpful in tackling addictions, physical and emotional afflictions and bereavement, just to name a few. So why not seek out some support from people navigating families as single parents? Attending such meetings should never be viewed as a weakness or inadequacy. In fact, it's a positive sign that we want to grow and become better parents.

I recently spoke with Dan Purcell who told me of a wonderful opportunity for single moms sponsored by St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Though still in the beginning stages of organization, it has the potential to become a much-needed resource to address so many of the concerns that single mothers with children of all ages find themselves dealing with from time to time. Dan tells me this is not an evangelistic endeavor but a community service and one that, I think, we need more of. Anyone interested in finding out more information about this important community service group can call St. Peter's at 353-9594.

Now if you're thinking that your life is too busy to include a club meeting and that you just can't spare an hour or two a week to do something for yourself, consider this: Will your kids benefit more from a burned-out, at-wits-end mom, or a mom who is taking a little time to gather her strength, energy and thoughts from sharing and learning from others on the same course? You might be surprised at what a little emotional battery recharging can mean not only in your life, but the lives of those you love. We tend to forget that we really aren't "Energizer Bunnies."

Readers can e-mail Susie at Susiewrites@gmail.com or write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166.

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