One of my biggest challenges has been raising three boys as a single parent. I've been told by other parents that it's easier to deal with boys than girls. Usually this comes from a parent who has all girls. I totally, wholly disagree. Where did anyone ever get that idea? Boys have their own set of problems as opposed to girls. I've been on my own four years and I confess there were days I didn't even want to get out of bed, afraid to know what the next trauma might be involving my boys.

That's not to say they're not good kids, they're really good kids, honest, smart, opinionated, and like every other child in the world, they think they know more about life than their parent. We've dealt with all the usual traffic tickets, drinking, car accidents, relationship break ups, things that just rip a parent's heart out. What parent wants their kids to repeat their mistakes, but its not really something you can prevent. Everyone wants to live their own life in their own way.

I remember thinking many times I shouldn't have to get phone calls at 4 a.m. Their father should have been helping me deal with these problems and situations. However, that's not how life turned out. Their father had died when the boys were 11, 18 and 19, and we were all reeling from the loss in our own ways, even to some degree four years later. I always tried to show my boys how much I loved them, how much I admired them for the men they were becoming, but other times I just wanted to walk away and not think about the stress of some of their screw-ups.

I live in a rural, wooded area, and my youngest decided at fourteen that he wanted to learn how to run a chainsaw. The last thing I wanted him to do was pick up a chain saw and start his own firewood business. I know how dangerous chainsaws can be, even in experienced hands. He kept coming up with all these ideas for his own business that involved a lot of manual labor. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wanted him to be a kid a little longer. I wondered if his sudden interest in all things outside, work related, had something to do with his way of grieving his father's loss.

My middle son seemed to retreat into a shell for a long time; missing school, pulling back from a social life. By contrast, my oldest son was living away from home and I had visions of him running wild with his friends, drinking and raising hell. I wasn't comfortable with any of these scenarios and I constantly tried to let my kids know I was here for them, but I also offered guidance, giving them my often unasked-for opinion on what I thought was right for them. Sometimes, being the only one responsible felt overwhelming, but somehow, too, we all came through it.

I gave my kids the freedom to make their own choices and mistakes, but Mom was always lurking in the wings to offer support in case something didn’t work out. It’s just what worked for me.

Elaine Williams ©2008

Author's Bio: 

Elaine is a writer across various genres, published in women’s fiction, but also enjoys writing children’s books, self-help and screenplays. She is a mother of three boys and when life saw her a widow at 47, she eventually picked herself up and wrote about her experience. The resulting book, A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss will be available June 2008,