• Stephanie Valentine

Ready!

What gives me the most hope every day is God's grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.

-Rick Warren

Raising children is an uncertain thing; success is reached only after a life of battle and worry.

-Democritus

When my guys were little, bath time was the highlight of the day. When I picked them up from school, I would always ask, how was school today. I’d get the compulsory “Fine”. I’d follow up with, did anything exciting happen. This provoked more thought and I may get one or two additional details. Typically I would get more details during bathtime. I don’t know if it was because they weren’t encumbered by clothes, happy to play with bath toys with their brothers or or that we were in a room without any other distractions - either way, the splashing or washing made for fun times. Once they were clean, I would let them stay in the tub a few additional minutes without my direct supervision. I would audibly monitor the laughs and splashes to make sure there were no tsunamis in the making. “Let me know when you are ready and I will come take you out of the tub.” Notice I didn’t say “Don’t get out of the tub until I come back.” As you may remember from an Rugrats episode (Nakie is free, nakie is NAKIE) that would be an automatic invitation for “Free Willie” runs. The signal for the end of bath time was a big shout of “Reeeaaaddddy!”

The ancient Greeks had two terms to represent time. Chronos is the root for the word chronological. Karios characterizes a moment in time that will not happen again such as the birth of a baby, a wedding or graduation. You don’t get to recreate these moments when the time is more convenient for your schedule. They are happening and if you want to enjoy them, you have to be present at the exact time and place. During the time I was a single parent of three sons, there was no real time to panic or think this couldn’t be done. It was a high pressure situation and there was only time to act.

I approached parenting in kairos mode. There was an urgency that I had to be present, engaged and vested in each moment of their lives. I didn’t have the luxury of missing a moment, because it wouldn’t come around again. This meant being present for practices, games, field trips, field days, science fairs, parent teacher conferences, PTA meetings, performances and anything else that would show my support not only for my sons, but for their classmates. In some instances that meant picking up teammates in the Valentine Van, which was recently retired at 325,065 miles.

Being present was the best I could do. This resulted in not only my children knowing I was engaged but I would like to think a big of cache of their classmates too, especially in the instances where I was the only fan in the stand or in the audience. The benefits are that no matter where I am, on a walking trail or at the grocery store, these young people (now in their grown bodies and sometimes unrecognizable to me), will greet me with a jubilant “Mrs. Valentine!” I can feel all of the love and good memories rush back. Single parenting is a tough job and I maintain not the way it was originally designed or best executed. Both parents are relevant, even if they are not both available. A recent personal revelation is I do my best work under pressure. Embracing this has helped me prepare for any situation that might catch me off guard. In comparison to raising three men, everything else palls in comparison.


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Atlanta, GA

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