In second grade, my daughter became friends with a class mate, and since her mother and I are actively involved at the school, over the last few years, she and I have formed a friendship of our own. At first this friendship revolved around the girls’ school events and play dates, but when we began to trade after school pick ups so I could work late when my husband couldn’t keep the children or she needed some single mommy time, our relationship evolved into one of mutual support.
This evolution has come as a two-fold pleasant surprise to me. Because I am remarried and have a blended family of eight, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have room in my life to act as a support to a single parent. I feared she’d be so needy that I would be drained trying to help her. And though I was still willing to try, because she is single and has considerably fewer resources, I worried that I’d be doing a lot more giving than taking. I’m not proud to admit that, but I’m being honest. So I was not only surprised but relieved to learn that instead of being drained, I’m filled by the relationship and my friend is one who gives as good as she gets!
You’d think having been a single mom myself, I of all people would have known that no matter the circumstances, most parents have a level of resiliency. It comes with the job. But the hard work of parenting, and it is hard work, can deplete or replenish that supply. My friend is one who has allowed her parenting challenges to do the latter. Her divorce and her daughter’s recent autism diagnosis have only served to increase her resilience. Often, when she calls on me for encouragement, I’m the one who comes away feeling like I can parent another day. With every blow she’s dealt, she increases her resilience by leaning on her faith, her family and her friends.
And there I was thinking just because I have a good husband, a good education and a good job, I had more to offer her than the other way around. The truth is, despite my educational background and my professional training on the protective factors that contribute to parental resiliency, which include having a strong network of support, I often try to do it all on my own and fall so short, whereas my friend lacks all the things I have but is in possession of a lot more good sense than I. She’s not only learned how to build her own resilience, she’s teaching me to do the same.
My friend is not too proud to ask for help and she’s humble enough to admit when she’s failed. She relies on her faith, family and friends, and I’m honored to be counted among the latter.