I felt cheated. When your husband leaves a week before your baby turns one, you don’t get to enjoy first birthday parties, first steps, or first words. I was cheated out of all of it. As life continued, I felt more cheated. Every time a married friend told me she was a “single parent this weekend” because her husband was deer hunting or a “single mom this week” because her husband was working nights, I wanted to scream, “You are not a single parent! When your spouse comes home, you get to sit down with him and tell him all the things your children did. You get to share that with someone who loves you and loves them. A single parent never has that.”
As time went on, I became more upset. Whenever my boys would say something funny, do something that made me proud, or reach another milestone, I would celebrate with them and grieve in private. No matter how many friends or family I told of their antics, it was never the same as it had been with their dad. I was truly parenting alone, and it was so lonely.
One day I cried out to God, “I just want someone to share this with!” God responded, “Share it with me.” At that moment, it hit me. I’m not a single parent. I have God. God, the ultimate Father, is certainly capable of coparenting. He watches me mess up time and time again, but loves me and never leaves me. Some days I say, “I can’t do this by myself.” God replies, “I never asked you to.”
One of my most life-changing moments coparenting with God was when God sent a servant to tell me about a book called The Whole Brained Child. What I read in this book was so life-changing, I think every parent should hear it. It talks about reframing your thinking so that you enjoy parenthood. When we get so caught up in the day-to-day, parenting can seem like another chore. The author suggests we reframe our thinking by picturing our children at 18, leaving the house.
The next morning, I was trying to get ready for church, unload the dishwasher, and finish all the other “chores” that seemed so very important. My youngest son, then three, followed me around the house whining, “Hold me, Mom.” “Mom, can you hold me, please?” “Please, Mom? Hold me.” My responses were, “In a minute.” “I’m trying to get some things done around here.” “When I finish getting ready, I’ll see if I have time.” And then I thought of the book and I looked at my baby holding his puppy and blanket, standing on his little step stool, trying to get me to see him. I pictured him with a backpack, leaving for college and immediately stopped what I was doing. I smiled at him and said, “Come here, Bud.” I scooped him up, and we both smiled at each other. What a complete change. I felt better about myself as a mother. I could tell my son felt loved in a way he hadn’t for some time. He had my complete attention. God has given me the gift of two beautiful boys. If I continue to treat that like a chore instead of the blessing God meant it to be, I am not only cheating my boys, but I am cheating myself out of a closer relationship with them and a closer relationship with God.
That day I truly adopted the concept that I was indeed coparenting with God. At first, it was just talking to God. I would say things like, “Did you see that, God? Look what your son did. Aren’t you proud? I’m so proud.” Soon, however, it grew into a much deeper relationship and I began to give it all to God. I started praying throughout my day, “God, I can’t do this alone. Be here with me, please.” One of my favorite prayers to God, which I had heard somewhere, was, “God, give me the patience to deal with my blessings.” I prayed that one often, sometimes multiple times a day.
Since I’ve started coparenting with God, I have been able to enjoy my boys more. Most importantly, however, I have been able to enjoy a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father. Sure, there are still days when I feel like screaming, and some days I do. Some days, however, I am able to look up, laugh, and say, “Here we go, God,” and God is loving enough to allow me to coparent his children.
Kristi Mackenthun resides in rural Minnesota with her two sons. She is a middle school special education teacher. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends.