Many who know me are aware that my wife stays home. She works tirelessly for us (my daughter and me) and her family in general. Up until this year our daughter has been homeschooled. She’s off to high school now and with only a few weeks in I’ve come to appreciate single parents in a different light.

While my wife carries most of the load of getting my daughter to and from school it’s a load I don’t want her to carry alone. One particular week I dropped my daughter off and picked her up three times. I was super tired. Up at 5:45AM, out the door by 6:30, dropping her off by 7:15-7:20 and straight to the office or site visits across the city, then back to pick her up at 4PM. With rush hour traffic, home by 5:30. I spent most of my days awake and moving without really finding time to get my thoughts together. My daughter and I separate when we get home. She has approximately 4 to 5 hours of homework per night. We spend our time together in the car having conversation in the morning, listening to Maze Jackson on WVON, playing worship music and prayer. Our conversations on the way home entail how her day was, what made school great, and what made it not so great. I tell her every morning, be extraordinary and be unapologetically you. I’m grateful for these moments and I’m sure to cherish them now more than ever.

Single parents, like my sister-in-law, didn’t or don’t have such conveniences. My sister-in-law raised two boys as a single parent. Yes, she had a community but she still carried the weight of her boys from grammar school through high school and college. Yes, she has raised two outstanding young men both with college degrees and one getting ready to start his journey to a career post college. However, she was alone. Food was on her, clothes, shoes, fees, mentoring, counseling, doctors visits, sporting events, report card pickup, field trips, drop offs, pickups, food, shelter. I can go on. As a single parent, even though she had community, she sheltered everything. She did this while in the middle of a career change from corporate to education and earning her Master’s Degree in Education.

She’s not alone. Single parents across the country, male and female, go hard everyday as single parents. If my wife and I get tired or exhausted and we are together, how much more for the single parents? My focus is single women because I’ve been raised by three. Single moms have to put their children on public transportation; they don’t get to have the conversations I can engage in with my daughter. They have to run home, get dinner ready, pick the kid(s) up (maybe). A call from school with a sick child means they have to leave work, which jeopardizes their employment when the other parent either isn’t involved or available. Yet, they produce some of the most amazing and resilient children under arduous situations and circumstances. I have a very dear colleague who is recently divorced and is carrying a very difficult financial load but you couldn’t tell by seeing her. She’s always smiling, always helping others as an educator and psychologist, yet in our alone time I see the tears well up and the struggle to maintain this new and different life as a single parent.

To my sister-in-law, you are loved, you are cherished, you are admired, and you are appreciated. May your days, now as a married woman, be filled with The Lord’s continual grace. You are an amazing, smart, intelligent, and resilient woman. May your new life as a wife be as rewarding as the joy you’ll grow to know that your job as a single mother is done and the fruit of your labor is pleasing in the sight of The Lord and the world!