Once a year, for one week, my husband's job demands a week of solid travel away from home. It's always in the dead drear of winter, and it's often met with January's culprits: weak immune systems, frozen temps, and a momma who needs Vitamin D or a cigarette. Except I don't smoke.
And so for one solid week a year, I fly solo without even the weather on my side.
And it's hard. Way harder than my ego would like to admit.
I usually spend a couple of days throwing myself a pity party, justifying more babysitters and fast food dinners than usual. And then somewhere around day three, a shift occurs. Amidst my desperation and exhaustion, I remember, THERE ARE WOMEN WHO LIVE THIS WAY ALL THE TIME.
Everyday. Every week. Every year.
They are the single moms. And they are my heroes.
As much as I struggle this week every year, I need it. Without this week to slap me in the face with all the support I miss when my husband is gone, I begin to think that I got this gig all on my own. And lemme tell ya, per evidenced by these last few measly mercy-laden days, I don't. (Not to mention, I have help! There are no words to express how graciously supportive our family is.)
And so I find myself in awe of the millions of women who parent day in and day out standing on their own two feet and their own two feet alone.
The women who coax their babies from bed before sunrise and cradle them to sleep after sundown.
The women who pour cereal, pack lunches, and cook dinner for mouths that rarely speak appreciation.
The women who rush to bus stops, work, daycare, and back home, and still never make ends meet.
The women who have been abandoned, forgotten, overlooked, and betrayed by men who offered false intimacy but never offered to share their last name.
The women who spend their midnights soothing nightmares, laundering sheets, and sharing their already lumpy pillow while never knowing a full night's rest for their own always exhausted heads.
And I know, there are men who are flying solo too - good men who value family and fatherhood even though the mother of their children don't. And there are men who are doing everything they can not to let another child live fatherless. So many of you men are the heroes of your families, and what's most endearing about you men is that what we see as heroic, you see simply as love.
But somewhere along the way, the cycle of single mothers became pandemic. Entire communities of women are carrying the weight of what was never meant to be carried alone. But they carry on anyway, because without them, we'd be a world full of orphans.
And so because my brain is dangerously fogged up and sleep deprived, I find myself doing all I know to do for these hero women - pray. As I ask God to give me the grace to get through another still dark morning coaching small bodies to get dressed and finish breakfast and why-is-there-toothpaste-on-the-wall, I ask God to send grace showers over the mommas who are doing what I'm doing - flying solo - except for one major difference.
Solo is all they've ever known.