REAL love is not pink and fluffy and rose-y and butterflies. Real love is not shiny and whole and smiling serenely. Real love is not holding hands while running through fields of sunflowers or gazing over chardonnay while wearing sexy dresses and opening boxes of diamonds. It’s just not. That stuff is something else. That stuff is something that can be packaged and sold, which is why we see a lot of it this time of year.
Real love is tough as nails. Real love is busted up and scuffed and a little jagged and exhausted. Real love is a nightmare at 1 am and a fever at 3 am and everybody else up at 6 and work at 9. Real love is ten Band-Aids when there’s not a scrape to be seen. Real love is losing your temper seven times and apologizing eight times. Real love is overwhelmed and exhausted and just DONE at the end of each day. Real love is ADHD and autism and hurt feelings and sucky report cards and cancer and daddy’s gone and listen, babies- this is life- this is brutiful life- and there is still much beauty to be found. Let’s find it together. Real love is knowing that tears of exhaustion are not signs that you’re on the wrong track- tears of exhaustion are confirmation that you are pouring out every bit of your heart and soul and body and mind and energy in service to your people. And that means, perhaps, that you are on the right track. That you are living out a mission worthy of you. Tears of exhaustion are often a badge of honor.
Last week, I posted this Facebook status update:
And the single parents responded. They said: Thank you. We’re tired. This is so hard. Thank you for seeing us.
And then, a reader who saw the thread wrote this to me: G: Can we Monkees do something special for the single parents?
And then, Together Rising received two incredibly generous donations from other Monkees. And so here’s what we did.
We emailed fifty single parents from that thread with this message:
Dear Mama Warrior,
I saw your comment to a Momastery update I wrote last week in honor of single mamas. Nothing would make me happier this Valentine’s Day than celebrating you. Please fill out this form to receive a $100 giftcard to treat yourself for who you are and all that you do.
All my love, awe and respect,
Their gift cards went out in the mail this week.
Here were some of the responses:
“I am a 41 year old widow and mother of two boys (11 and 4). My 44 year old best friend and husband Bill died 16 months ago suddenly of a pulmonary embolism while getting ready for bed. He was the most incredible person I have ever known. We are all better people living better lives because he Is a part of us. Thank you for thinking of me. Your kindness makes a difference.”
“I’m 26 and a single mother. My son will be turning 6 years old at the end of February. The parenthood journey sometimes seems lonely, but I do have a group of friends that cheer me on when I’m feeling completely overwhelmed. I am so blessed. I parent completely alone. My son’s father left me homeless and alone at 6 months pregnant. I spent 2 months of my pregnancy living out of a van and in and out of sympathetic friends’ homes. When I finally choked down my pride, I contacted my mother and came to live with her in for the duration of my pregnancy. I lived with my mother during my son’s infancy so that I could finish college. After college, I began working full time teaching Pre-K and moved out on my own. My son and I have been doing this thing called life together, on our own, ever since. I am now cleaning houses full time so that I can provide more income for our household. I often want to ‘throw in the towel’ and ‘tap out,’ but that sweet boy keeps me going. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. I am awestruck.”
“I am a working momma with two little girls, 3 and 5, who anxiously await their daddy’s return every few months from special deployments. I don’t see myself as a ‘single parent’ because my wonderful husband does everything he can to be a part of their lives everyday even while he is away, but the reality is that 10+ months a year I am at it alone. I am fiercely proud of what my husband does for our country, so I do everything I can at home to make sure we are happy in his absence. “
“I am a 20-something mindset trapped inside a 50-year-old body. I question, ponder and wonder and that takes time. I love trees and rocks, camping, hiking and snapping photos all the while. I was a homeschool mom for 14 years before my husband of 25 years left us. Today, I’m not really sure who I am anymore, but I continue and search for that answer. “
Listen- if character is what we do when no one is watching, then single parents are character personified. They are the ultimate Love Ninjas. They are REAL LOVE. Since Valentine’s Day is when we celebrate LOVE, SINGLE PARENTS – LOVE DAY IS YOUR DAY.
Friends! Please celebrate Valentine’s Day with us this week by seeing and honoring warrior parents all around us. Share this post with your single parent friends, or go to Facebook and tag a single parent under this status update. Remind her that love comes in many forms – the fiercest of which is a single parent. Remind her that you SEE Her. Remind her that SHE IS REAL LOVE and that her tears of exhaustion are proof that she is living out a mission worthy of her.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, SINGLE PARENTS. WE SEE YOU.
G and The Whole Together Rising Family
Author of the upcoming memoir LOVE WARRIOR — PRE-ORDER HERE
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