Sunday Morning Single Parent

While Brad and I were dating, the pastors of our college ministry were faithful to teach us about God’s mission – His desire for His children to submit their lives to His leading and accept salvation and sanctification by the Spirit (my nutshell paraphrase, sorry for the mumbo jumbo). They were further faithful to teach us that God desires for us to be part of that mission for the world.

Our college ministry had a great “seeker-friendly” Sunday night service. So when Brad and I would go to church, we would separate, sitting in different places, hoping to connect with students who might need someone to reach out to them. It sounds kind of lame, but rest assured, we made other lame attempts to reach out to students during the week, too.

People who knew us often thought it was strange that we didn’t sit together. They would ask, “Are you and Brad OK? Are you fighting?” Embarrassed, we would try to explain what we were doing.

I guess I got spoiled once we were married. We knew that our ministry to others would begin extending to other marrieds, so we would sit together at church!

I took it for granted that we could drive the same car to and from church, that we could hear each other sing as we worshiped the Lord within touching distance, that we could walk up to unfamiliar faces as a couple.

Because now? Now I am a Sunday morning single parent.

Sidenote: I hope those of you who are full-time single parents (or even single parents in practice) don’t mind if I borrow that phrase for half of the day on Sunday. I absolutely have no idea how you manage what you do. And I pray for you when I think of it. I pray that God would provide people in your life to help and that your children would be “easy” on you. I don’t desire to compare myself to how difficult your role is.

When I arrive at church on Sunday mornings, I am harried. I am probably late because I have no idea how to attend church when I can’t force Samuel’s morning nap to not cut into service. And if you think he cries now while I’m in service, just imagine what it would be like if he had not slept.

I have tried everything in regards to getting to church for the whole service. I have woken myself and Samuel up early, hoping his morning nap would be over by the time church or at least the sermon starts. I have taken him to church an hour early to ward off the sleepies. I have tried letting him sleep as long as he needs to, and I have tried waking him up early from said nap. I have gone to church for as short a time as 20 minutes. I have nursed him at home and nursed him there. Either way, I.am.late.

Being late in and of itself stresses me out, but then there is the actual child handling. I have long since quit bringing my brick of a Bible to church, relying instead on the verses projected on the screen. Sometimes I wheel in a stroller thinking that will help. But at the end of the service, I’m usually carrying Samuel so he can visit with everyone (did I mention my non-crawling 9 month old is 21 pounds?), and then I’m dragging a stroller behind me with the diaper bag slung on my back. Can you imagine what I will be like with two little ones?

Every few Sundays, I teach children’s ministry to the PreK class. I have to be there early and stay late. These days are especially difficult to manage, especially when Samuel is wailing in the nursery, and I am teaching the hilarious PreK kids just praying that God will give Sam peace and bless Jenn and Karyn as they try to calm him down.

I look back on the pastor’s wives I have known who had children and wonder how they did it with such grace. Did they struggle with this like I do? Did they miss worshipping as a unit? Or did they let all bitterness go and find joy?

One morning, I was talking to my friend Jenn. Her husband Steve plays the drums most mornings at church, and their son Hudson is a year older than Samuel. Did you catch that? Steve plays most mornings, so who has Hudson? Jenn. She is not a pastor’s wife.

I said to her, “I forget that you are also a Sunday morning single parent,” and she admitted that it’s a point of contention in their home sometimes.

I started thinking about all of the other amazing people in our body who are Sunday morning single parents. At some time or another, most of us at Crossroads are. You see, in a church plant, everyone has to serve on Sunday mornings, either in set-up, children’s ministry, worship, greeting, etc.

To think I had been whining in my mind every Sunday for months about how hard it is to get to church, be at church, serve at church, and come home without my husband, and so many of our members are doing it alongside me. Wow. It must be worth it.

And it is. The vision of our church is to see every man, woman, and child in our area repeatedly hear the good news of salvation offered through Jesus Christ. Sunday morning service is a time when people are checking out God in a different way – maybe for the first time, maybe in a different setting than they’re used to, or maybe after a very long hiatus. It’s worth it to be there to connect and worship with these visitors…and my fellow Sunday morning single parents.

Oh Father, again you have humbled me. You have shown me how proud and arrogant I am to think that I am alone in my inconveniences. When I am throwing myself a pity party, help me to see the REAL truth. Open my eyes to the lies I believe that are hardening my heart against You and others. Bless my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to have stamina in the race set before us.

11 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Single Parent

  1. Holly Dennis

    So true. You capture it all so well and it’s all. so. true. … the being a Sunday morning single parent thing; the being late and hating it, but trying every way known to man to change it; the part about us not being it it alone … and it being SO WORTH IT! I love it when the Lord sweetly reminds me, ‘yes! this is why you do what you do. It’s worth it.’ Thanks, Steph, for the reminder today 🙂

  2. Robyn

    If it gives you any hope for the future, I think Evan was a lot like Samuel in that Sunday mornings were a nightmare for a long time. He needed his nap and it just didn’t happen on Sunday mornings, no matter what I did, which translated to misery all around. But he gradually grew out of the morning nap, and now we have Nathan who’s content to sleep in the moby most Sunday mornings. Granted that’s not completely ideal either, but at least it frees me up to serve in some capacities. As much as I LOVE Evan, I’m glad we only have one of him! 😉

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Thanks, Robyn! I know once he’s on one nap, it *might* get easier. haha! Then, there’ll be something else, right? 🙂

  3. Ruth

    Hi Stephanie,
    One of the things I have found helpful over the years has been to see the “training” phase as my worship in this season of my life. I have had many mornings where I wondered why I was at church as I just sat out in another room with my son (at that stage the church we were at had no sound system set up as we had the only kids.) and now, due to Davy’s delays I have a 2 year old and a 6 year old, both learning to sit beside me quietly during the service. (most weeks the 11 and 10 year old have this figured out :)) Most of the time they are pretty good now and I’ll hear the whole service, but when I don’t I remember I am there to worship God and if God gives me these circumstances to worship in, they are the ones that give Him the most glory. Sorry, very long-winded but I could certainly relate to your post!

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Thanks, Ruth! You’re absolutely right! He has blessed us with these kiddos, and we should have a mind of worship about raising them! Even if that means we look like a wreck to everyone else.

  4. Mel

    Oh yes, don’t feel alone!! We are right there with you. Mark serves 2 out of 3 Sundays and is often on tear-down the third one. He also gets sick A LOT with his MS, so his third Sunday is generally him staying at home.

    We are ALWAYS late no matter how early I get the family up. Mark has such a long preparation time (he takes a daily shot, creams for various issues, plus all his vitamins – which he must take AFTER eating – not to mention his “grooming” time, haha). It also takes him awhile to start feeling well in the morning so he is S-L-O-W moving.

    Add into that I, personally, need to be in CM every Sunday setting up classes, dropping off supplies, working for whoever is sick that day, etc and I can SO relate to your stresses. I have learned that I have two choices: 1.) I can let it stand in my way and get me down or 2.) I can accept it.

    Yes, I may be THAT woman who always has one of her kids either in her arms or by her side (or both of them, haha). I may have to ask you to repeat whatever you just said as I’m running to the other side of the room trying to stop Hayden from getting run over by a cart. I am the mom yelling at her kid across the room to “Put the guitar DOWN and get off the stage”. I most definitely might forget one or two of your supplies that day. I always look like a pack-mule, between the kids, their stuff and children’s ministry stuff. Although everyone else is looking good, I will generally always look like I just fought with a lion – because getting children and family just AT church sort of on time IS a fight with a “lion”.

    But I have just accepted these things – this is my season and I can embrace it or fight against it. Fighting against it really does nothing except make me grumpy. And it helps me to translate that peace into the week as Mark now gets home around 8ish (after kids are in bed!).

    I used to be angry and frustrated when I had done EVERYTHING for the children and did it all without any help. But now I’ve just embraced that as my role – Mom.

  5. Mel

    Oh and I think all of that strength in no way comes from me – it’s all our Lord. He gives us strength when we need to endure, and peace when we need a break.

    I remember one morning I was just SO tired from everything and I just wanted to go to worship and sing my heart out to God. I hadn’t been in service in over 3 months either because of illness, CM commitments, or other things. That morning I got a call and one of our teachers was sick.

    I sat down in their class in submission and obedience to our Lord and started cutting out the days activities and making the crafts. I wanted to cry. If no one was there I WOULD have cried. But if God wanted me cutting out paper food that day, then that’s where I was supposed to be. And then who walks in but YOU and you offered to teach that day.

    No matter what you can or can’t do on Sundays, as long as you submit to what He wants you to do, it is enough. And that may be walking the halls with a baby, or cutting out crafts in CM, or giving all your heart in worship.

  6. Stephanie Post author

    Mel, You rock. Hands down.
    I can’t imagine how your Sunday mornings are! But I am SO.GLAD. that you all are there. I’m totally cool with you yelling at the boys across the gym. That’s going to be me soon. 🙂

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