Although I do not think that single parenthood is the ideal for either the parent or the child, I admire single parents who do their best and keep moving forward. Before I was a mother, I never could have imagined the amount of work and sacrifice required to raise children. I had heard others tell me of their challenges and had even seen some difficult situations, but as with anything else, you never know what it is like to go through something, until you have gone through it yourself.
I think this must be true with being a single parent. Since I haven't ever been a single mother myself, I will not presume to understand what it is like, but every time my husband goes out of town on business, I have a newfound respect for those parents who go it alone all the time. In the interest of full disclosure, I must add that I am extremely lucky to have a supportive and involved husband, who does quite a bit of his own sacrificing for our girls, and for me. I realize that in many ways I am spoiled, but I realize it even more when he's not around.
So, I'm already preparing myself mentally for next week, when I will be doing it solo. Luckily, Kent doesn't travel a lot, but the few times he is gone make me realize how amazing my own mother was. She wasn't a single mother either, but my father travelled a lot. He was gone about 2 weeks out of every month, and it was usually to another country halfway around the globe. Not only did my mother have to deal with us, but she also dealt with broken water heaters, flat tires, and a host of other repairs by herself. I can only imagine how many nights she felt alone and didn't know if she could go on. But for her there was relief in sight, knowing my father would return. I can't imagine how much more a single mother would feel the loneliness, not to mention the sheer exhaustion.
We all have our cross to bear, I suppose. However, now and then I get a glimpse of what someone else's cross might be like, and it is a good exercise in empathy.