- First, I attended the viewing of MY RUN.....a fantastic documentary about Terry Hitchcock and his marathon journey through life. Terry is a single parent who ran 75 marathon length runs over a 75 day period to bring awareness to the struggles of single parents and the millions of children being raised in those households. It obviously hit close to home - like Terry, my own father was placed in a similar situation in the late 1960's when most women were the homemakers. And obviously, my own children are also part of that unfortunate statistic due to their father and the love of my life's passing to cancer.
- Secondly, a major light bulb went off in my head this weekend regarding a personal relationship that made me realize that companionship will always be missing from my life. Many of you may consider me a catch - thank you - however my limited time and raising three children 365 days a year does not make for an ideal relationship. I will slowly but surely accept this fate but it does suck....there is no other way to state that....just another crappy side affect from cancer.
Being a widow certainly has it's challenges. I am pretty certain you all recognize that. Being a single parent is tough - regardless of the path you took to become a single parent. But being a widow really places your children into a situation of being raised by one parent. Don't get me wrong, I know there are struggles financially and emotionally when a divorce is involved. I happen to have grown up in a single parent household - 2 times.....first when my mother passed away when I was two and secondly after my father remarried then divorced. So, I have sympathy for both camps.....and understand the complexities of both situations.
I also understand that often times in a divorce, one of the parents is VERY absent - which was the case with my dad and step-mother's divorce. Once they divorced, I never saw her again until my sister's funeral when I was 34 years old and again at my father's funeral when I was 36 years old.
Raising kids in a single parent family is difficult.....and is something that continues to hold a "stigma" in society. Being a single parent because of a death is even more of a "stigma." People feel sorry for you. People that don't know the circumstances assume you are from a failed relationship instead of a very loving one. People think your kids father is a "deadbeat" or that you had your children without a father involved.
Then there is the constant decision making....no one to toss those ideas around with....every decision is your responsibility. Talk about stressful!
And those you are making decisions for are not always happy campers. I am sure many of you have a good cop/bad cop routine going on in your household with your children.....and you probably rotate those roles from time to time. Not in a single parent household. The parent is ALWAYS the bad cop. It is a very rare occurrence I get to be the "fun" parent.
By far, the most difficult part for me is the emotional piece. I can handle juggling a million things at a time....or asking for help to carpool, etc.....I may not do it well but I can do it. But the emotional piece....the intense loneliness that creeps up on you, the self-doubt of every decision, the lack of someone to give you that hug you need, and the feeling of being "trapped" in a life you didn't plan....a life alone.....is overwhelming at times.
Please take time to acknowledge your spouse, to thank them for all they do each and every day, to hug and kiss one another, to say "I love you", to appreciate one another, to take time for one another, to celebrate every birthday and anniversary. Life is short and once you get to the end, you do not want to regret missing out taking advantage of each day.
A big thank you to Terry Hitchcock for running further than I could ever go, for providing the issue of single parents and our children a voice, and to Tim VandeSteeg for seeing how important this issue is and bringing Terry's story to a national spotlight.
If you would like to support my efforts and my marathons for LIVESTRONG and helping to keep others from being thrust into my situation, please donate using the link below:
SUPPORT BARB AS SHE RUNS COAST TO COAST FOR LIVESTRONG
Oh, and CANCER SUCKS!