A friend of ours, who is a single mom of three girls (who are soon to be 7, 4, and 2), asked my friend S and me if we would keep her kids Tuesday night through Friday morning while she traveled to and attended a conference for her work. She doesn’t have family here, so she was in a tight spot as to who would help her. Amazingly, she thought the two of us were somehow fit for the task. And, we accepted the challenge.
Our “assignment” of sorts involved me picking up the car seats at school, along with the three girls, taking them home, preparing their dinner, and helping them with their homework. Then, S would arrive and assist me with their homework, giving them baths, and getting them to bed. After the kids were in bed, S and I would eat dinner, clean up the kitchen, make lunches, choose outfits for the girls to wear the next day, and switch out the car seats from my car to S's car. S would spend the night there while I came home to take care of my dog.
I would return each morning around 6:45 after S had gotten the kids up and gotten breakfast ready. We would then get the kids dressed, teeth brushed, and hair fixed before S took them to school.
At the conclusion of the first evening, I had a huge appreciation for single moms. I have no idea how my friend gets all that done by herself. I also quickly realized that I hadn’t babysat in many years and had clearly forgotten some things. Like portions. And cutting up food for a toddler, who just looked at me when I put uncut food on her plate. And asking if anyone needs to go to the bathroom or has a dirty diaper. None of that is on my daily radar.
I also didn’t realize how much homework kids are assigned these days. I remember reading stories out of our Moonbeams reader when I was in first grade. That was the extent of my homework back then. The seven year old was expected to do a handwriting assignment, read for 5 minutes a night, practice ten spelling words, practice her Scripture memory verse, and practice her lines for a school play. Additionally, the four year old had to practice recognizing shapes and letters. By the end of the week, we were all practicing shapes, spelling “m-u-s-t” and “c-r-a-b,” and reciting the Scripture verse:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother“—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
Amidst all that hard work, good times abounded. I laughed as I watched the two year old dancing and snapping as she watched a video or practicing being grown up as she put on orange lip balm multiple times each morning. I stood amazed as the seven year old imagined and then put together healthy dinners for the group (with my assistance). And, I loved watching the four year old relax and unwind by watching a video.
All in all, it was an amazing opportunity to serve a friend in need. Something that I often fail to do.
You see, I’m wired to get things done and seem to measure my weeks by how much I’ve accomplished on MY to-do list instead of by how much I’ve invested in my relationships. As our church has been studying its values of being God-exalting, Truth-centered, relationally-focused, and service-minded, I have been reminded of how I need to restructure my priorities and be more intentional about being relational instead of organizational.
So please pardon me as I sign off to catch up on my sleep---something I am quite sure that my single-mom friend never gets enough of!