I’ll be the first to admit that one of the hardest things for me to deal with and to move past is the propensity to complain. As a single mother, I understand there’s PLENTY to complain about: there’s not enough money for pampers, daycare, doctor bills, medicine, utilities, rent, car payment, clothes. He didn’t come to see his children this week. He didn’t pick up the phone and call. \Both children were out sick with the flu and not only did he not take off time from work to help, I was stuck home alone with them, sacrificing time off from work. I can’t find a babysitter. Nobody seems to walk to help me. On, and on, and on.
I know. I’ve been there.
Complaining is also made easier to do when you hang around complaining cheerleaders. You know the type of folks I’m talking about. Now we all have those “breakthrough friends”; the ones we call when we need the heavens pierced and a 24 hr blessing to rain down on us. We don’t call them when we want to complain, No, we call those other folks, the complaining cheerleaders. Those are the ones who say, “Yea girl, I know how you feel. Let me tell you what my baby daddy did…” or “Girl, I wouldn’t put up with that if I were you. You should drive by his job and show out!” And yes, I’ve driven by his house and his job before and “shown out”; not “go to jail and get a misdemeanor charge” show out, but enough to irk him and satiate my need for vengeance.
Complaining takes a whole lot of energy that quite frankly, a single mother can’t afford to expend.
One of the biggest slaps of reality as a parent came in the form of realizing that there is ALWAYS something to think about and/or solve when you are a mother. Whether it’s where are her purple socks or does his teacher have a list of his allergies, there’s always SOMETHING to figure out. You’d think I would find plenty to do being the mom of two small children close in age. Not so. Most of my time early on was spent complaining.
I will be the first to admit that the first two years of motherhood were the most unpleasant. This is in no way a reflection on my children because they certainly brought nothing to the equation but innocence and unconditional love. But the misery came from my strife with their father. I was determined to make a relationship work with him that he was clearly not ready for and in the process, all of my attention, energy and investment of resources went into him and not into HIM and certainly not into “them”.
When I talk to a woman who is clearly in a counterproductive relationship, my advice to her is never to leave him.
News flash to all the great spiritual giants out there who forgot what it feels like to be in love with a man, body and soul: telling a woman to leave a man she loves with her soul is like telling her to commit murder. Good luck with that! I take a different approach. I advise women to do what I did. Continue to love who you love. Continue to be with him if you must. But you must view your time and resources as currency and the people in your life as stock. When you invest in stock that under performs, at some point, you have a decision to make. Either you will sell or at least, you will diversify your investments.
My advice is to diversify your investments.
Invest more into the things and people who give your life the most returns. It wasn’t instantaneous, but eventually, I began to diversify my investment and invest more heavily into my children than I did their father.
I began by simply establishing a bedtime.
Now before you scoff at me, you’d be surprised at how many young single mothers I’ve talked to whose children do not have bedtimes. I was one of them. And let’s face it. If most of your time is spent on the phone or on the cellphone arguing and stalking your baby daddy, there’s really not much time or occasion to establish any set bedtime for the children. And boy, did their father exploit this. It was nothing for him to show up on my doorstep at 10, 11p.m. or sometimes 2, 3, and 4 a.m. wanting to come in and “see his kids”. But at the time, my children did not have a set bedtime because our schedule as a household was his. I waited by the window for him and so did my little ones, and when he came in at 10 or 11p.m. wanting to play with his small children who should have been asleep 3 -4 hours ago, he could. So I set a bedtime: 8 p.m. Not only did I set it, I honored it. I stuck to it. I made sure everyone understood it. I clearly communicated it. And the first time their father tried to violate it, I SHUT HIM DOWN. More than once, he’s stood on my doorstep and been told, “You can come back tomorrow. They’re in the bed now”. It was not an easy battle but it was soon won.
Be consistent. That is a single mother’s greatest weapon.
So what does that wonderful story of my personal battle with nonsense and baby daddy foolishness have to do with stewardship?
I’ll do my best to tie this all in.
One of the biggest enemies of a single mother is her propensity to complain.
When you complain, you are not acknowledging the blessings you have but rather, amplifying your ingratitude for them in the ears of Almighty God.
That’s right mamas: God is listening.
Just like He hears every prayer, He also hears every complaint. I can’t tell you how many times I heard someone try to derail my complaining train with the truth such as “well, at least you have a roof over your head and a good job”, or “he may not give you enough money every time he gets paid but it’s more than my baby daddy has EVER given me”. I can’t tell you how many times I shook it off and got right back on the complain train. I did have a roof over head. I did have food for them. I did have a good job with benefits that insured both of my children. I did have a baby daddy who saw his children often, in comparison to other dads and even though he didn’t give me enough money, he did and does give me some for them.
It occurred to me recently that motherhood is stewardship. If we are faithful over a few things, He will make us rulers over many.
It didn’t even dawn on me that how I behaved as a mother, however unpleasant I deemed my circumstances, was being observed by God. I had forgotten that these children belonged to Him first and that I was just here to temporarily guide them in this earthly realm until such time as their destiny and purpose was brought into fruition. I was slow in recognizing that this was an opportunity for me to show God what I was made of.
Stop complaining and start impressing.
I’m not a perfect mom but I’m a better mom because of the grace and manifold wisdom of God. Instituting a bedtime was His idea. As a result, I saw my children settle down and calm down behaviorally in ways that I’d never seen. We developed our own routine. We became a household. We set a rhythm that we now live by. They know what to expect. I am consistent. I am invested.
I am a steward.
Prayer Point: Father, I ask that every mother reading this would become keenly aware of the stewardship of motherhood. May she function with an awareness that your eyes are upon her. Cause her to know that every sacrifice, every effort to correct, improve and guide the daily lives of the children in her charge has not gone unrecorded by You. May we seek your face for wisdom, direction and precision. May we diversify our investments of time, attention and resources and pour into those people and things that bring us the biggest returns. May our children receive a bigger slice of the pie chart and may You receive the biggest. May we seek Your face daily so that we may be better stewards over the children that you have given into our care. May Your great Name be exalted in and through us. May our circumstances no longer cause us to complain but to seek Your face all the more fervently. In Jesus’ Name we pray these things. Amen.