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SINGLE PARENT KIDS



These two pictures tell very different stories. The innocence of young love and new beginnings as WWII came to a close. The possibilities on the other side of that madness finally seemed within reach. Audrey and Harold Benjamin (aka, my Mom & Dad), married in Minneapolis in 1940, faced many challenging and uncertain years as did so many during those dark times. But as the war ground to its final conclusion the future finally turned the corner and offered possibilities unthought of during the war. It was now ok to dream again, to plan again, and look forward to a family. And the family arrived! Big brother Jerry rolled in and Tom (me) arrived a little later. Their two boys were known as “Tom & Jerry”…they liked a good laugh, lord knows they needed it!



But bright lights and celebration have their way of receding in the dim light of dawn. Some stories have very unexpected endings. The challenges that are overcome initially are once again revisited with even more unwelcome reality. Who catches a break and who doesn’t …who knows? “Why” is exhausting to chase and impossible to answer. Two pictures, two very different stories.

SINGLE PARENT KIDS is a song that doesn’t answer “why.” It’s a rummaging through the ruins left behind when a parent is unexpectedly removed from the picture. My father died when I was 5 years old. In that moment, the flow of the current in our lives changed direction. So, you either go with it, or you drown I guess. When kids are involved, this task of keeping heads above the water falls on the parent left behind. In my case it was our Mom, maybe in your case it was your Dad or one of your Grandparents. What ultimately matters is the strength and character of the only person left to do the job. It’s a daunting task done unselfishly and arising from the instinct to protect and provide against all odds. It’s a power so innate it can stop a freight train in its tracks.

Our Mom tapped into that power when my Dad passed away and she was left with two young boys to raise alone. To me, he disappeared. A Dad I never really knew or remember. One day he was there and then he wasn’t. Young kids are told what happened but understanding and processing that information at a tender age is an inexact science. We didn’t quit expecting our lives to go on like they always had. We didn’t see ourselves as different from our friends' families. As best she could, our Mom tried to create that reality by playing both roles.

It’s a lot of work being a Mom or Dad under “normal” circumstances (whatever that is). Try being both! Try playing a part you never attempted to play before. You’re in the wings and suddenly called on stage to play a role you’ve only witnessed but never imagined playing yourself. I don’t think “terrifying” is too strong a word. But Moms like mine, and I hope yours, simply step up, cover up their hearts and do what needs to be done. It’s only when you're grown and have life experience to give you perspective that you wonder how such magic is created.

Death, divorce, call to service, or life on the road are just a few of the reasons a parent may be absent and the other becomes for all intents and purposes a “single parent.” God love them. They give and give and give. They’re the tuning fork whose tone lasts and lasts as it fades ever so slowly across the arc of a lifetime. The trusted guide trying to be on point and on time, informed and involved, provider and protector in light and in shadow…the impossible assignment somehow completed because failure is not an option.

To quote the lyric, “My mother was a saint, the definition of the word”…sounds a little over the top? I get it, but I don’t think so. I was there. She maybe didn’t meet the criterion of verifiable miracles for canonization, but any single parent that discovers paths forward through it all and finds ways to raise kids that stand on their own embodies that definition. The “magic” they weave deserves our respect and appreciation for the thankless and often unrecognized contributions they make to improve the world for all of us.

Happy Mother’s Day in the month of May 2021” to my Mom and all the Moms, Dads, Grandparents, and Foster Parents who have stepped up and played the role of a single parent and enabled their SINGLE PARENT KIDS to thrive. We love & admire you!

.... Tom Benjamin

SINGLE PARENT KIDS

~ click on link below to listen to this song:


https://soundcloud.com/user-877302432/single-parent-kids


SINGLE PARENT KIDS

Tom Benjamin ~ music/lyrics

I'm a single parent kid

Wonderin' what my dad would think

If he could see me now

Tryin' to make it in this world

There's a lot of us out here

With a lot of feelings hid

Unnoticed in the crowd

Single parent kids

He didn't mean to go

His leavin' wasn't planned

That summer long ago

He let go of my hand

There's a lot of us out here

With a lot of feelings hid

Tryin' to make it through this world

Single parent kids

In old photographs

From years gone past

You'll see a stranger's face

Someone who resembles you

You never could replace...

My mother was a saint

The definition of the word

If she ever did complain

Well I guess I never heard

There's a lot of them out here

With a lot of feelings hid

Single parent moms of

Single parent kids

In old photographs

From years gone past

You'll see your mother's face

With someone who resembles you

You never could replace...

I'm a single parent kid

Wonderin' what my dad would say

About these struggles that I face

If he were here today

There's a lot of us out here

With a lot of feelings hid

Tryin' to make it through this world / unnoticed in the crowd

Single parent kids

w/m Tom Benjamin / Branch Creek Music ASCAP