of a journey I embarked on
with God and with my three sons:
Sean, Neil, and Jeff.
|Psalms for the Single Mom By Lisa Reinhard|
It started eight years ago
and was at first filled with equal
amounts of pain and triumph.
As I grew in faith, wisdom, experience, and strength
the moments of victory increased
and began to outweigh the troubled
I wished often
that I had someone to inspire me, to
to whisper, â€œYou can make itâ€â€”
â€œJesus with skin on,â€ my dear
friend Judy May would say.
I needed people to help me along the wayâ€”
people with shoulders to cry on,
hands to lift me up when Iâ€™d fallen,
feet to deliver a kick in the rear
when self-pity settled in.
As God provided those people,
I promised Him that I would take all the
Iâ€™ve been experiencing
and use it to encourage others who are at
various points on this journey
of single motherhoodâ€”
those who may be tempted to give in,
letting bitterness enter their hearts.
This book of heart songs,
and, hopefully, humor
Is the fulfillment of that promise.
If it touches just one single mom;
If it makes her load a little lighter,
her guilt that sheâ€™s not perfect a little less;
If it allows her to gently laugh at herself;
If it gives her the strength to keep loving herself and her children,
to not give up on taking care of her own needs as well as those of her children
(for you can give only what you have, I have discovered
And if youâ€™re on empty in the self-esteem department,
You wonâ€™t have much with which to saturate your children);
then it will have served its purpose.
God has blessed me the opportunity to begin anew.
He had given me three fine sons to raise.
He had used my parents, Bill and Rhoda Hussey,
to support me, inspire me, challenge me,
and be the undergirding to the belief that
I could do all things through Christ
who strengthens me.
He had, in His wisdom, had them raise me in a way
that instilled in me such a fierce sense of independence,
such a stubbornness,
that I refused to give up, to give in, or to run home.
What follows flowed from my heart.
I pray it touches yours.
My fingers trembled, I remember.
My throat went dry.
The words were trapped,
Stuck in my windpipe
By choking sobs of helplessness
â€œI need to talk to you about
Finally, the word squeezed past my taut lips
and fell into the telephone receiver,
then into the attorneyâ€™s ear.
Hadnâ€™t I been trying to avoid this very word
For more than five years?
Christians donâ€™t get divorced, I firmly believed,
as I prayed, pleaded,
compromised, and rationalized
my way through the months
that piled into years.
When youâ€™re caught in a downward spiral
directed by someone elseâ€™s irresponsibility,
itâ€™s near impossible to fight your way
back up alone.
Itâ€™s like one of those dreams
where your legs are weighted
as heavy as if they were cast from iron.
Youâ€™re struggling to the surface,
but your heavy legs hold you back,
not allowing you to break free.
I was drowning
in a sea of lies, foreclosure,
verbal abuse, and filth.
It was sink or grab the life raft
named S.S. Divorce,
which would take me, I knew fully well,
not into the Sea of Tranquility
but into the Bay of Chaos,
through the Strait of Faith,
into the Start Again Sea.
â€œWeâ€™re hungry, Momma!â€
Their piteous cries were matched only
By the starved look in their eyes.
I couldnâ€™t stand it anymore.
I picked up the phone;
I watched myself dialing Pizza Hut.
â€œSend out a large pepperoni,â€ I crowed.
They cheeredâ€”stunned, disbelieving.
â€œIsnâ€™t it too much money?â€ one asked me.
â€œNot tonight!â€ I answered.
I rationalized it by telling myself there
Were no groceries in the pantry.
The boys and I were moving out next week,
right after our court date for
My soon-to-be ex-husband had been consuming
whatever food I brought in
while we were at school and day care.
He was not here tonight;
that was cause enough for celebration.
I reached for our joint checkbook.
One more time Iâ€™d pray the check
Tonight I prayed halfheartedly; I didnâ€™t care.
My boys would eat pizzaâ€”regardless.
It arrived in a cloud of spices and tangy steam.
Tomato and pepperoni smells
Wrapped themselves around
four sets of nostrils
and drew them toward the thin brown box.
The door closed behind the pizza man,
and I shouted,
â€œUpstairs! To the bonus room!â€
I remember opening the box.
I remember the imageâ€”
frozen in my mind foreverâ€”
of three little wolf cubs, ages two, four,
poised over their captured prey,
tongues between lips,
ready to pounce.
I donâ€™t recall if we had napkins, plates, or drinks.
I do recall how starved I was.
But one look at their faces, and I drew back,
saying, â€œHelp yourselves, boys!â€
Cheese strung between box and slice,
Sauce seeped down chins.
Smiles lit up
the haunted, hungry look
chased away by glorious pizza.
They ate until there was nothing left but the backsâ€”
the crescent spines of hard crust.
They sat backâ€”satiated, replete.
â€œThanks Momma! Thanks Momma!â€ they echoed.
Then they lay against the couch cushions,
each a satisfied heap of tousled blond hair
and bulging tummy,
lost in Looney Tunes.
I closed the box and took it downstairs.
It was not until I reached the kitchen
that I lifted the lid and grabbed
one hard crescent for me.
It was my only actual bite of that pizza.
The boys never knew.
But that image of the three of them
falling upon that pepperoni pizza
fed my soul
just as it ripped it apart.
It shouldnâ€™t be like this.
It doesnâ€™t have to be like this.
I was a refugee momma,
feeding my starving sons,
and we were about to break free.
It Makes People Uncomfortable, Lord
â€œWeâ€™re getting a divorce,
weâ€™re buying a barn,
but weâ€™re not remarried yet.â€
The words fluttered out of Seanâ€™s six-year-old mouth,
blue eyes flashing,
as he looked way up at the tall elderly
woman in the checkout line at Kroger.
She smiled sympathetically, first at him,
and then at me.
she switched lanes.
It makes people uncomfortable, Lord.
I know, because it makes me
nervous as heck.
Two weeks weâ€™ve been on our own.
I look down at my sweet bundle of boys:
Sean, an eager, wiggly six-year-old;
Neil, a four-year-old ball of perpetual motion;
and Jeff, a bumbly, blond bear, just two,
still a baby.
How are we going to make it, Lord?
How can I be everything I need to be
for these three
and still take care of myself?
How am I going to get up at 5:30 each morning;
get three boys ready, fed;
pack lunches, book bags, diaper bags;
and get out the door
With some semblance of sanity
when Iâ€™m not even a morning person?
Two weeks into this thing
and my ex-husbandâ€™s words
haunt me already.
â€œYouâ€™re never going to be able to make it on your own!
Youâ€™re stuck with these three boys,
and youâ€™ll be worn slap out.
Nobodyâ€™s ever going to want you againâ€¦â€
I look around me,
at the early-sixties,
of this barn-shaped house Iâ€™m renting.
I see my face fragmented
in the twenty-four mirrored tiles
on the kitchen wall.
â€œI want me,â€ I say to my myriad of reflections.
I wanted someone to hold me.
I hungered for arms wrapped around me,
I lay there
in my scratchy-stiff sheets.
And thought Iâ€™d die
if someone didnâ€™t hold me soon.
Rub my back,
Curl his legs around mine,
Fit me into him, back to front, like spoons.
just hold me,â€
I went whispering into the night.
Suddenly, jangles and light
I shook myself awake
and realized I was alone
Single Name on a Double Sports Roster
If I could write a country song, Iâ€™d call it:
â€œSingle Name on a Double Sports Roster.â€
Because thatâ€™s me
every time one of my children
is on another baseball/soccer/ basketball/ tennis
any sport team.
When they pass out the team roster,
Tom and Betty
Bob and Cathy
Jim and Debbie
then back to
Randy and Cindy
Phil and Nancy
and so on.
My eyes burn, and I get a walnut in my throat
When I see my name
On that page.
It sits there
Some sort of proof that I am not connected,
That Iâ€™m doing this solo.
Itâ€™s so black-and-white.
Somehow it shouts failure
as it whispers
donâ€™t expose yourself,
I fold up the roster
and carry it with a heavy heart to my car.
I plunk down on the driverâ€™s seat
and wallow in self-pity.
before a still, small voice
breathes to my soul.
I fumble in my purse for a pencil
And amend the roster,
Adding a â€œGod andâ€
before the Lisa.
â€œAnd, lo, I am with you always,
Even to the end of the age.â€
I wonâ€™t be a quitter, Lord!
You made me stronger than that.
I wonâ€™t quit; I donâ€™t care HOW hard it gets!
I grit my teeth and say it most loudly
On the days I mean it the least.
No, you say.
Itâ€™s okay to quit.
Whatever could you mean, Lord?
And then I see.
Sometimes it takes more strength, more guts,
Quit worrying, you whisper; trust Me.
Quit holding grudges; forgive.
Quit procrastinating; do it now.
Quit being afraid; accept my Spirit of confidence.
Quit hating yourself; forgive, accept, and love.
Quit trying to do it all yourself; accept My help.
Quit criticizing others; work on changing yourself.
Quit doubting; believe!
Iâ€™ll be a quitter for You.
I have a feeling
thatâ€™s the only way
Iâ€™ll ever truly win.
Who Am I?
Who am I?
Now that Iâ€™m no longer married,
Am I Lisa Hussey again?
Or am I still Lisa Dearman?
Iâ€™ve been Lisa Hussey longer,
but Lisa Dearman more recently.
My sonsâ€™ last name is Dearman.
Do I want to have a different last name
than they have?
Does it matter?
â€œWhatâ€™s in a name?â€ Shakespeare asked
a long time ago.
A lot, Iâ€™d say.
How do I sign my checks?
What do my students call me at school?
Am I Mrs. Dearman, even though
Iâ€™m not married?
Does Ms. Dearman sound too liberal?
What name do I write on all my teaching things in permanent marker?
Iâ€™ve had lots of students whose moms have remarried and then they have still another different last name.
Itâ€™s so confusing, and sometimes Iâ€™ve had parents
if I call them by the childâ€™s last name
instead of their own.
Iâ€™ve known some families who have received
The principalâ€™s permission to â€œletâ€ the
children use the new step-parentâ€™s last name
and others who have gone ahead and
adopted the children and changed the name legally.
If itâ€™s confusing to me, as an adult,
how much more it must bewilder
Who am I?
Maybe I should be Lisa Hussman!
Iâ€™m Not After Your Husband
â€œHey!â€ I wanted to shout. â€œYou silly, insecure woman!
I am not â€œafterâ€ your husband!
He was very nice to help me carry my ice
chest full of soft drinks for the soccer
But when I smiled and thanked him,
it was not an invitation.
It was one person appreciating anotherâ€™s kindness.
What is it about a divorced woman
that makes the women around her
wary, suspect, and even sometimes,
I just got out of pain, of emotional drain
with one man.
Iâ€™m in no condition to jump in
right away with another.
And even if I were, I wouldnâ€™t choose yoursâ€”
heâ€™s yours; you keep him.
I just want to be treated as a person,
with kindness, compassion,
sensitivity, and dignity.
I will treat you the same way.
Please, please include me!
Invite my children and me to dinner, to outings, to parties.
We need to see intact families.
We want to be included,
Donâ€™t isolate us by your own fear and
We already feel like failures
in this couples world
Help us not hide
in humiliated silence,
but lend us your strength
to rebuild bridges instead of
Reach out a hand
and pull us into your world.
Weâ€™ll both be richer for it.
Why Me, Lord?
Why me, Lord?
What did I do that was so bad
that I would end up sleeping diagonally
across a queen-size bed
crying into my pillows
after I pummel them
with fists of rage?
Hot tears of exhaustion fill them instead of down;
I swear theyâ€™d drip bitterness if I squeezed them.
My thoughts zigzag, spiraling wildly up and
nosediving into my pale, striped comforter.
I canâ€™t do it anymore!
I canâ€™t be everything to my sons!
There are three of them, one of me,
and theyâ€™re younger, have more stamina.
They outlast me!
Iâ€™m so sleepy, Lord, and yet I canâ€™t sleep.
I canâ€™t turn off the worries inside my head.
Where will I get the money to send them to
Why arenâ€™t elementary teachers paid more?
Wait, forget college,
where will I get the money to pay the light bill
to buy three sets of school pictures
to buy new sneakers for the feet
that grow too quickly
and seem to make a hobby out of
dragging toes on sidewalks
and through puddles?
Oh, Lord, where is that sleep?
Five-thirty comes mighty early, and I need some rest.
I seem to remember,
â€œIn repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength.â€
Oh, Lord, remind me of that the next time I feel
like Charlie Brown in that cardboard box
saying, â€œWhy me, Lord?â€
When I get so overwhelmed I feel like
Iâ€™m racing around a hamsterâ€™s wheel,
and I fall asleep tutoring
and during sermons
and in the middle of teachersâ€™ meetings.
Quietness and trust
When a crystal vase slips from fingers
and shatters on a marble floor;
When an egg is smashed,
its raged shell fragments scattered;
When the petals of a rose are torn off
crushed beneath the windâ€™s weightâ€”
there is no fixing it.
Not so with human lives.
We can go on.
there are new beginnings,
a crisp white sheet of paper
on which to write
the words of today.
How do I take the first step toward trusting again, Lord?
How do I loosen the grip
that fear-driven survival
has on my heart?
I want to believe,
but someone has let me down so badly,
and has filled my life with so many lies
that I hardly know the truth anymore.
Some things were said about me, Lord.
Horrible things. Lies.
My character was even maligned to my sons.
Anger does weird things to people,
so does hurt.
Be careful of rage, I want to warn those I care for.
Be careful of the hatred
that is the cancer of the soul.
Its by-product is the ooze of bitterness
that fills every inner recess of your heart.
Tears help. So does talking.
But as a wise man once told me,
you have to use discretionary disclosure.
You have to be careful to whom you tell what.
You must put strong walls around your hurting heart
and not allow those who would judge you
near your innermost being;
Those who have never walked your footsteps,
have never felt the degree of pain you have felt.
You must not give away all of your golden treasure.
Reserve some; you never know what lies ahead,
And you may need some sooner than you think.
Walks help too.
Long walks filled with soul-searching as well as mindlessness.
Empty-headed ditties sung to the babble of brooks
under bridges leading nowhere.
How did we take the first step, Lord, you and I?
that tiny step toward letting go;
giving up bitterness
before it solidified into resentment?
It was oh-so-small, really.
Just a little beginning,
a gleam of forgiveness that
led into the shine of peace.
It was putting one shaking foot at the edge of the cliff
and stepping offâ€¦
My friends tease me on the weekends that I have the boys,
when they canâ€™t get hold of me
and have to leave phone messages.
They call me â€œSuper Momâ€ and laughingly say
that Iâ€™m probably out there hiking or something again.
They are probably right.
I canâ€™t think of a better place to take three restless
who love to explore!
What else would I doâ€”drag them to the mall?
â€œHere, boys, here are the fancy, designer clothes
You wonâ€™t be wearingâ€¦â€
â€œLook, but canâ€™t haveâ€¦â€
â€œWeâ€™ll try on the next batch of hand-me-downs or trek over to the local discount store.â€
No sir! Not my boys!
When we get new clothes,
Itâ€™s with excitement,
Itâ€™s what we can afford,
and itâ€™s special and fun and uplifting.
I donâ€™t set them up for disappointment
I donâ€™t take them where theyâ€™ll see things
they canâ€™t have.
We go to the woods. Kennesaw Mountain.
We climb with backpacks stuffed with
oranges and raisins,
apples and juice boxes.
We have canteens swinging at our sides,
along with binoculars and jackets tied
around our waists.
We sing, we whoop, we run.
Each boy finds the perfect walking stick
and uses it until itâ€™s time to go,
leaving it then for someone else.
Thereâ€™s a huge rock that looks like several elephants,
and they love to play safari on that
and look far off into the distance as they stand on its top.
Sometimes we take friends along,
and every once in awhile we run into someone we know.
But most times, itâ€™s the four of us,
hiking vigorously and loving it.
time after time after time.
I donâ€™t take them there to be â€œSuper Mom.â€
I hope I allow them the greatest gifts of all:
receiving life and all youâ€™ve been given with gratitude,
discovering all that your body is capable of doing,
experiencing nature in all its glory,
and reveling in the sheer irreplaceable value of fun.
Fun for funâ€™s sake.
Lost, I think, too easily at the mall.
â€œOh, you simply must go to Aruba, Lisa! It is just fabulous!â€
The words stung
mainly for their obliviousness
to my situation
rather than any cruel intent,
for their lack of sensitivity
and shortness of empathy.
There really is something to this
â€œwalk a mile in someone elseâ€™s moccasinsâ€ stuff.
â€œLet me show you my latest photos of the Caribbeanâ€
doesnâ€™t cut it when thereâ€™s no moneyâ€”
even for a trip to Dairy Queen.
Donâ€™t rub it in, I want to whisper.
Donâ€™t be such a contrast
that Iâ€™m tempted to feel sorry for myself.
Please take your beautiful four-by-six glossies
and leave me to my summer reruns and my
Diet Coke with lime squeezed in it
for that taste of the islands.
No White Knights on the Horizon
I told people I was not waiting for my white knight to come
â€œfixâ€ my life.
And I meant it!
Until I met a guy who swept me off my feetâ€”
And then I believed he was the answer
to all my problems.
But he was so strict with my kids.
Well, wasnâ€™t that what they needed?
A firm male influence?
Someone to guide them?
But a tiny voice inside me questioned,
was it really necessary to send them
upstairs to their rooms because they
wouldnâ€™t eat the Brussels sprouts
he had brought over?
Dear Gussie, I didnâ€™t even like the wretched things!
He was so sure of everything.
â€œNo Cokes at Taco Bell! Weâ€™ll all drink water.â€
â€œA deposit at the video store? Forget itâ€”we donâ€™t want the movie after all
that weâ€™ve just spent forty-five minutes selecting.
And quit your whining, kids!â€
It didnâ€™t take long before his armor lost its silvery gleam.
Lawyer, looks and all, he didnâ€™t wear well.
He created problems where there hadnâ€™t been any before.
He was arrogant, opinionated, and controlling.
As he exited my life,
a great truth entered:
No one can fix your life.
There are no white knights.
I had to be prepared to do this all on my own,
with Godâ€™s help
There may never be anyone to help me raise
But â€œI can do all things through Him who
And I can certainly do it without opinionated,
Regrets are weird things.
They come into my heart with
soft-padded catâ€™s feet,
silently wrapping steel-sharp wire
around the outside of it;
The pieces land soggy;
piling in the pit of my stomach,
A song stirs a memory,
and I begin to think of all
Stop! I tell myself.
You canâ€™t do this to yourself.
You are where you are.
Deal with it.
â€œThis I recall to my mind.
Therefore, I have hope.
The Lordâ€™s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.
â€˜The Lord is my portion,â€™ says my soul,
â€˜Therefore I have hope in Him.â€™â€
Begin a new morning, I tell myself.
Go the only direction you canâ€”forwardâ€”
Making the Lord your portion
And living in great
Those two have a way of crowding out regrets.
How in the world did I get talked into this, Lord?
A blind date?
At my age?
A rivulet of sweat is running from the small of my back
down my legs.
My mouth has turned to cotton.
What will we talk about?
What if heâ€™s a real jerk?
What if heâ€™s too goofy for words?
What is the minimum number of minutes
youâ€™re required to stay on a blind
Why wonâ€™t my hair do anything I want it
What if he thinks I look old?
What is he freaks when he finds out I have
Okay, I tell the reflection in the mirror,
I can do this.
Hey, heâ€™s a friend of Sueâ€™s, right?
He couldnâ€™t be that bad.
Well, come to think of it,
heâ€™s really someone Sueâ€™s husband works
Did she say if sheâ€™d actually ever met him?
Oh dear, the sitterâ€™s here.
Whereâ€™s my other shoe?
Did I ever put blush on?
Oh no, now I put on too much.
â€œHello, Iâ€™m Shirley Temple,â€ I can say as I open the door.
Am I truly singing â€œI Have Confidenceâ€
from the Sound of Music?
Iâ€™ve lost itâ€”call the men in the white coats.
Come on, Lisa, confidence.
Just be yourself.
Take a deep breath.
And go downstairs.
Someone once told me that I am extremely
I think this meant that,
rather than my getting my feelings hurt
my surroundings play a big part in how I
I never knew how true this was
until the year I hated everywhere I had to
Iâ€™d already decided
that I hated the interior of the house I was
the colors, the carpet, the lack of light, the
But going to school
in the soft gray tones of the interior of my
to spend the day surrounded by the bright
of the atmosphere Iâ€™d created in my own
with its gorgeous carpet and cabinets,
made the evening hours
Then two things happened that changed all that.
* * *