I was a single mom for a week, kind of. With a husband away on a business trip, I was the parent on-call for all children’s needs, desires, wishes, wants, tantrums, crises, and cuddles.
I was the homework master, the bath overseer and hair washer, the bedtime manager, the school issue overseer, the household servant, head chef and personal shopper, the sole chauffeur, and more.
And really, we did just fine. All those tasks and mom jobs weren’t so different from my normal mom resume and daily agenda.
Besides, I knew I still had an emergency fallback position: I could threaten children with a phone call to dad for ridiculous misbehavior. I also had the gift that technology gives, conversations with my husband in between his conference sessions and the ability to spill out, if only for a few minutes, the news and adventures from the home front.
And I had people every day asking how I was doing, making sure I had the help I needed, and reminders that they were just a phone call away.
It was mostly my husband’s presence that I missed. Just being with him calms me. I’m a grumpier mom when he’s away and more apt to cry tears over the eventual build-up of tiny annoyances that swarm the day like gnats.
Children forgetting homework.
A child having a tantrum in the school library.
A dentist appointment I didn’t remember I had scheduled during an insanely inconvenient week.
A preschooler who took an unexpected nap and is therefore unable to fall asleep anywhere close to the vicinity of bedtime.
A package on my doorstep that I didn’t order.
People sending me forms for an event without filling them out correctly.
Extra phone calls to be made.
And so it was, when the week was over and my husband walked through that door, I felt the burdens ease somewhat. I was calmer, more cheerful, more relaxed, better able to sleep.
During the earlier days of our marriage, my husband had to be away from me for 3-4 months at a time, living in another state for job training or job transfers or while I was on-site for grad school. I’ve been there, done that several times.
What it taught me then was that time with this man is precious.
Taking it for granted or spending it like the quarrelsome, nagging, contentious, vexing wife in Proverbs (Proverbs 21:9, Proverbs 25:24) makes me no better than water torture to live with: “An endless dripping on a rainy day and a nagging wife are alike” (Proverbs 27:15).
These annual one-week stints apart from each other just remind me anew to value my marriage and this man, who is a God-gift to me. It resets my priorities and readjusts my expectations. It gives me reason to pray for him with focus and attention and re-establishes the habit of covering my husband’s daily walk, work and ministry in prayer.
This year, though, I was reminded of something else—-that we minister to others out of our own experiences (2 Corinthians 1:4). Just as others have served me during my short-term single mom moments, so I should take the time to serve another.
And these women who need us are everywhere: Divorced moms, widows, military wives with husbands on deployment and other wives with husbands away. They may not have the safety net of a call from dad to threaten unruly children. Their single mom reality might not end with a plane trip home after a week away.
All last week, as I hung up the phone from my final conversation with my husband for the night, I didn’t just think about me.
I thought about these women going it alone and how to love them:
- Write them a note and tell them, “you are doing a great job and you are an amazing mom.” They may never hear those simple words of praise and encouragement.
- Pray for them daily.
- Send them a gift card for pizza, Chic-Fil-A or some other restaurant so they can take a night off from cooking.
- Take them out for coffee, tea, or dinner. So often what they miss is just adult companionship.
- Don’t ask them to let you know if they need anything. They probably won’t. Be proactive (without being pushy or invasive) by offering specific help or (if appropriate) surprising them with a helping hand.
- Call them on the phone just to chat.
- Let them know when you will watch their kids or hire a babysitter for them so they can go out with friends.
- Personally invite them to ladies’ nights out at church and don’t let them feel excluded from women’s ministry (which so often focuses only on married women with kids).
- Pamper them a little, maybe with a gift card for a manicure or to a hair salon, flowers, or an anonymous present of lotion and bath salts.
- Care about their kids.
This one week of missing my husband makes me a better wife and can make me a better friend.
How would you minister to single moms, divorced women, widows, military wives and other women whose spouses are away?
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King