Single Parenting: Art, Love, & Grief Defined

Red wood lawn chair in field of lavender

Don’t you love those pieces of plain construction paper that are turned into spectacular artwork? Typically, designed with hand drawn stick figures and hearts? The words scribbled, “I love you Mom,” or “I love you Dad.” And how about the paintings with bright colored paint! Oh, the simplicity and love demonstrated in children’s artwork. 

Single Parent Art Gallery

Years ago, all of our artwork lived on the refrigerator door in our single parent home. The prized pieces were held on precariously by various shaped magnets. At one point, the refrigerator door became unrecognizable. It was rather an appliance mirrored as a children’s art gallery. Often, I expected to find art supplies stored inside the refrigerator shelves rather than food. Over time, pieces of art were on top of one another like a spiral bound portfolio haphazardly gone haywire. Unsure how the magnets kept their strength upholding the weight of these multiple artifacts. 

At last, I asked the children, “Which ones can we take down to lighten the load?”

I was given the answer, “None, Mom.”

Believe it or not, I became a nighttime thief sneaking over to the refrigerator to remove one or two that were buried underneath.  Surely, they would not notice.

The next morning, frantic words sounded out. “Where is my picture that I drew of my mean teacher?”

Sheepishly I said, “Uhm, I am not sure what happened to that one. Which one is that again?”

They quickly replied back, “Mom, did you throw it away?”

Despite my playing dumb, they were much smarter than me!

Simple Solution for Silliness



Over time we came up with a system that was fair to everyone, not just Mom. The easy solution was to store the displaced artwork in baskets and bins that lived in the children’s rooms.



My world as a single parent was spinning madly out of control, yet the children were organized and in sync.

Single Parent Grief

Inquisitive, insightful, and remarkable intuition. Those are the traits of my children. Not only did they notice the details of missing artwork on a refrigerator, my oldest child noticed hidden feelings of sadness and grief of a single parent. Myself. Grief is hard to keep from those who are near to us. It is difficult to disguise the fact your home is different now with the other parent no longer there. 

Gift for Grief

To the present day, in my top dresser drawer reside two hearts. Not similar to the artwork that I previously mentioned, nor the heart-shaped rocks I talked about in last week’s post. Specifically, these are lavender-colored, ceramic hearts. One heart is small and solid. The second heart is an outline of a larger heart, missing its center. Together, they go hand-in-hand. The solid piece can almost fit inside the center of the outlined heart. These were made by my oldest child at nine years of age at a local, pottery painting studio. You can learn more about pottery painting studios for a fun outing with your children.

Let me leave the painted hearts for a moment. When my 9-year-old made these two hearts, I was five years deep into being a single parent. The longer I was a single parent, the harder it became. By the fifth year, I was starting out a new career, plus holding down two part-time jobs. There was no time to process grief. I was in what we notably call “survival mode” to take care of my young children and myself. As a result, I was not able to fully address and process my grief until nine years later.  

Love Binds Us Together

Circling back to my child’s two hearts. They had been placed inside a small box as a gift for me.  I opened it, unsure of what to find. There they were, two hearts. Lavender in color. Again, one solid heart made of ceramic and hand painted. Another bigger ceramic heart that was missing its core.  


Underneath them there was a tiny piece of paper with the following words, written by my oldest child:

Mom,

This solid heart is me. 
The bigger heart is you. 
Yours has a hole in it.
You can put my heart inside your heart to fill it up.

Love, […]

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
that word is love.

~Sophocles

My children and their love for me kept me going through the hardship, the despair, and the grief. 

Love many things,
for therein lies the true strength,
and whosoever loves much performs much,
and can accomplish much,
and what is done in love is done well.

~Vincent Van Gogh








During moments of wondering if I could continue on, I always circled back to them and their dependence on me to love, guide, and lead them.






 

In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities.

~János Arany

By and by, my children were my life’s purpose day after day.

Forever grateful,

Wellness For The Single Parent

Photography Credits
 
Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash - Red chair in lavender field
Photo by Denise Johnson on Unsplash - Watercolor paints in tray
Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash -
Large paint brushes 
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash - Multiple paint brushes
Photo by Dóri Halászlaki on Unsplash - Lavender in basket
Photo by TaiLi Samson on Unsplash - Woman holding lavender
Photo by Tracey Hocking on Unsplash - Paint brushes with tin box
Photo by Jana Niggeloh on Unsplash – Close up of blurred lavender
Photo by Kayla Crouch on Unsplash - Lavender, blurred sunlight
Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash - Closeup of lavender field
Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash - Green lavender, close up
 


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7 Comments

  1. When I lived as a single person in a small village in Alaska, often over 30 children/students came to my place, before school (truants), during lunchbreak (hungry), after school (freedom time), and, of course, weekends. Their artwork was allowed to be put wherever they chose, except not on the lampshades. Paintings and colorings were taped barely above the floorboards (toddlers) all the way up to and on across the ceiling (teenagers). It was a grand surprise to visiting parents. And, replacements with new pictures seemed to appear spontaneously. I lived in color! How I loved the little ones and students! Beautiful days. Single parenting has many opportunities, well beyond one’s own children.

  2. It’s amazing how insightful children turn out to be. They see and understand exactly what you need. The hearts are so touching.

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