One of the toughest jobs in America is parenting. Not that kids are the problem, per se, but that the responsibility never goes away. And the demands at certain times. And the more you care, the more you can worry about whether you did this or that right, etc. Add to this the financial responsibilities and you have a handful of additional concerns. Fortunately, there are two of you...
Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 13.6 million single parents in 2005 with approximately 21.2 million children under 21. A majority of these are single moms, but there are dads who had to carry this burden alone, too. Quincy Jones wrote that he and his brother, for example, were raised by his father when his mom had been institutionalized for mental illness.
An encounter I had yesterday made me think of all the lives we touch on a daily basis in which we do not know the back story. Single parents, people fighting with cancer (FYI, it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) or abuse, or economic hardships, loss of a loved one.... We may not know what's going on, but we can help ease things a little by kind words and gestures.
In the case of single moms or dads, if you're close to someone in that situation, maybe you can give the mom or dad a little break by taking their kids to the park or swimming sometimes. My brother and I did this for a single mother of four when we were young. It was the one afternoon a week in which this friend had any time to herself. Susie, my selfless better half, has been involved in the Mentor Duluth program in our community, a program designed to help young people get linked to healthy adult role models. Many are from broken homes, all are reaching out.
But you don't need a program to role up your sleeves and pitch in. Here are a few quotes to mull over as you go through this day. May it be special for you as you look for new ways to lighten anothers' load.
"When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people." ~Abraham Joshua Heschel
"The best portion of a good man's life - his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." ~William Wordsworth
"A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses." ~Chinese Proverb