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Just the Two of Us

Laura Cockrel faces the challenges of single parenting with the help of her family and her faith

Laura Cockrel Age: 25
Occupation: Mom, full-time college student, and part-time barista.
Morgan Pearlman Cockrel Age: 4
Ottawa, Illinois

CPT: What do you like most about being a mom?

Laura: Morgan and I share the same bedroom. She's usually sound asleep when I crawl into my twin bed next to hers. Every night, I listen to her breathing. She often smacks her lips or gurgles. I close my eyes and think that those sounds are the most beautiful that I've ever heard. I don't think I could explain what I love about being a mother, or even what I love about her. It is everything; down to the smallest sleepy sigh at night.

CPT: What's the most challenging part of raising a child alone?

Laura: Finding quality time to spend with Morgan is the most difficult thing I face. When I separated from my husband, Morgan and I moved in with my parents about 90 miles outside of Chicago. I was at a point in my schooling where I could no longer transfer college credits, so for the last year and a half I've been commuting to Chicago up to five days a week for class and working part-time at Starbucks. It's draining, and I miss the time I used to spend with her.

CPT: Do your parents help out?

Laura: I've been blessed with a wonderful family that helps me tremendously with Morgan. My school and work schedules keep me away from her more then I can bear sometimes. But my mother cares for her five days a week, when I'm between school and work, not to mention the weekends when I am buried in books and reports. My mom is an amazing mother. She's been so willing to put her children before herself. My whole family is an amazing financial, spiritual, and everyday support system.

CPT: What's the biggest difference between being a single parent and a married parent?

Laura: I had more time to spend with Morgan when I was married. I didn't have to commute so far to school. Now I have the added stress of being solely responsible for her.

CPT: Does your daughter get to see her father often?

Laura: Morgan and I are very lucky to have a positive relationship with her father. Because I'm away from home often with school and work, I'm concerned about having one of her parents with her as much as possible. Stephen, her father, rearranged his work schedule so that he can spend two days a week with Morgan. During that time he gives her his undivided attention—they do art projects, play dress-up, and anything her imagination comes up with. It's one of the highlights of her week.

CPT: Have any parenting disagreements resulted from your split?

Laura: We've never really had many disagreements about parenting, and the divorce hasn't changed that. When I was pregnant with Morgan, I discussed with Stephen what I wanted for our child—the type of home environment, and more specifically, that I wanted her to be exposed to Christian values, principles, and people as she grew up. Though he isn't a Christian, he knew how important this was for me and has been very supportive of any parenting choice that I've made because of my faith.

He also allowed me to have full custody of Morgan. This was difficult to ask of him, because I do want him to be completely involved in her life. However, the fact that he's decided he's gay could take him far from the Christian environment I want for my daughter. Having full custody is a quasi-safeguard for the future, but one that I truly appreciate.

CPT: How has all this affected your faith?

Laura: My situation as a single mother forces me to depend on God for strength, for hope that I will eventually find a godly man who loves me, and for faith that God does "work all things together for good."

I have struggled with wondering why God allowed this part of my life to play out this way. When I look back, I see at the root of my marital problems my own lack of focus on God's will for my life. So I now navigate all difficult questions with that perspective in mind. I'm always asking myself, "What does God have planned for me? How can this draw me closer to him?" God does not tear down forever. He picks us up at our weakest point and reminds us that he is the only one who is dependable, the only one who loves unconditionally, the one who will never divorce us.

CPT: What's your hope for your daughter?

Laura: I look forward to seeing Morgan excited about something, something that she will pursue in further education, something that she will be passionate about. She has so many loves at four. I wonder what will hold her attention when she's 20.

And, of course, I want my daughter to see my faith in me, on me, around me. I want her to see how deeply and truly I believe. And my greatest hope is that at some point she too will choose to believe.

CPT: Do you have any advice for other single parents?

Laura: The responsibility that weighs on single parents often causes us to focus on the well-being of our children over ourselves. And while this is often necessary, it's also necessary to consider the purpose and plan that God has for our lives. I truly believe that being focused on our spiritual development and intimacy with God is one vital way to benefit our children. I would also encourage single parents to build a support system, whether it be family or friends or church members. Parenting wasn't meant to be done alone.

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