Monthly Archives

March 2016

Stay young and socialize as much as possible

March 29, 2016
stay young

I’m a single mum, I raise my child alone and I’m trying to get my life back on track after years of meandering through the everyday situations.

OK, I’m out of the woods, I think, and my path is now more or less a straight line. I stumble upon some barriers from time to time and need to take a few steps back. Then I clench my fists, count to twenty (ten is not enough most of the time) and move on.

I started working out again and it feels so good. I used to be a gym bunny, and not only so that I could be around good-looking boys (that factor shouldn’t be underestimated though). It’s all in the head. Where there is a will, there is a way, and willpower is my middle name.

What is it that really matters? What matters is to decide to stay young at heart. Let me share a secret with you: I’m actually a silly girl. A few days ago, at a child’s birthday party, I joined the queue to have my face painted. Only the kids at the party and me. Other parents looked at me in shock, but I felt fantastic masked as a cat with a pink nose!

It’s important to socialize, to be surrounded by the people you and your child like. But there’s a small problem I wasn’t aware of until I faced it.

People are often judged by what they do for a living and by their marital status. Strange, but true. In the 21st century, when the wedlock is generally regarded as optional and when nobody’s supposed to adhere blindly to the established social norms, it is still seen as appropriate to be married. Or at least to live in an extramarital union. Nobody would think badly of you if you raise your child alone, but single parents are still a minority. And when a single parent wishes to have some coffee and exchange a few thoughts with another adult who is not a family member, the situation is as follows: couples tend to socialize with couples. Women exchange advice and anecdotes about their children whereas men discuss work or sports. Most kids from my daughter’s kindergarten live in a common family environment. During the past few years I’ve met all her friends and their moms and dads, and we mostly coincide at birthday parties in specialized playrooms. Home visits, however, have been just partly successful so far.

My advice to all single parents: socialize as much and as often as possible. With family members, with old friends and new. It’s not easy for a single parent to make new friends, so each new acquaintance is invaluable for your mental health and therefore also for the normal development of your child.

 

About modern technologies, cartoons and playing outside

March 24, 2016
modern technologies

After a few years of wandering about in dense haze, of hovering on a cloud covered with diapers and baby clothes, I’ve finally started to get in touch with my surroundings. I’m slowly mending the broken ties and coming out of the tunnel of motherhood through which I’ve crawled for over 4 years. So much has changed in the meantime!

From the earliest age, our kids use every opportunity to get hold of our gadgets. My four-and-a-half-year-old daughter said that she had “her own tablet” that she now regularly uses to watch cartoons. And we all know that nothing can replace the playground or running freely in the open. But then again, cartoons guarantee some peace and quiet for a while. Still, this kind of entertainment should be kept at the minimum; otherwise, your kids will start using the craziest phrases and saying the strangest things.
“Mum, you’re so credulous!” (actually, I couldn’t agree more… )
“Do you know what that means?”
“That means that you’re the prettiest of all!” (how do you keep a straight face?)

I’m surrounded by the parents who let their children use their laptops, remote controls, even their mobile phones to keep the peace at home. Three- or four-year olds type on their mums’ phones, play video games (!) or watch their favourite cartoons on Youtube.

I’m very adamant about this: no way. Mobile phones are too expensive to let children play with them. Furthermore, they are not toys. Video games are not for such small children. A laptop is a work tool. Remote controls are not meant to be handled by their small fingers. However smart our kids are (and each parent thinks their child is an aspiring genius), I don’t want to spend hours reprogramming the channels after my daughter has tried a new order.  She, of course, watches cartoons just like other kids of her age (admittedly, cartoons are the only programme that is watched in my house), but I wouldn’t let her have the remote.

Dear parents, turning on the TV and doing something else is the easiest thing in the world. Actually, I’m doing it right now… Still, you should take your child out whenever you have time. Find the time. There is nothing better and more useful for both you and them.

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Writing cures everything

March 20, 2016
writing

Have I told you what I do for a living? I write and translate. I write a lot, and while doing that, I also get a chance to read something. A while ago, someone told me that my job is wonderful; I’m inclined to agree with that. After years of translating and writing, I’ve acquired the skill to turn my thoughts into readable and, hopefully, interesting phrases. Words can be a powerful weapon if used correctly and at the right time.

My advice to all of you who bring up your child alone: write. It’s not easy for any of us, whether we’ve become single parents by chance or by choice. Writing is a powerful way to let off some steam. You should also jot down all the bad and negative thoughts that come into your head, and they surely invade you often and in large numbers. Keep a diary. Try to remove little by little all that is negative or unpleasant.

Create your own blog or a website: it’s not at all complicated or expensive. Some basic knowledge may be useful, but you certainly don’t have to be an IT expert. Share your thoughts with the rest of the world. You’ll be surprised how many people, who are very much like you, you can communicate with this way. There is a lesson in all life’s experiences. Useful advice or anecdotes can be shared with others. I, for one, spent a lot of time searching the Internet, looking for ideas, recommendations, stories that could help me get along.

My child has had a happy childhood or at least that’s what I think. They say that it’s better for a child brought up by a single parent to live with that parent from the start than to go through the trauma of separation and all other consequences of such a situation. This is the only kind of family life she knows. When she wakes up in the morning, I’m the first person she sees. When she goes to sleep at night, I’m the last person to kiss and hold her. Her joy and cheerfulness are deeply rooted in me and my strength. To make her happy, I have to be happy. Pursue your happiness, like I try to pursue mine.

 

 

 

 

Princes and princesses

March 17, 2016
princesses

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time studying my four-and-a-half-year daughter and analysing what she says. She still can’t stop talking about princes and princesses who get married, which “means that they go to a ball afterwards”. A kiss on the mouth is “yuck“ and the people who matter most in life are “mum, dad, granny and auntie“. That is fine, it’s healthy to think that way. My only concern is how she’ll cope with the fact that while she does matter to her dad, she is not the most important person in his life. And I wonder how she’ll accept that we all have our princes and princesses, but they are not always the same and, more often than not, they are not there forever.

One thing is for sure, though: my daughter will always be my princess. And she sometimes jokes about me being “the queen mother“.

When you’re raising your kid alone, no matter how it’s come to that, good organisation is everything. If you’re lucky enough to have many relatives and friends, so much the better. Unfortunately, my family isn’t very large and most of my friends have grown children. So, be smart. When I was picking the kindergarten, my motto was: the best kindergarten is the nearest one. I know many parents who drive their children to the other side of the city just because the kindergarten was recommended to them and in hopes that an elite kindergarten would prepare their children for great things in life. Let’s not debate about if this approach is right or wrong. My reasons for my choice of the kindergarten were as follows: firstly, driving my daughter there and back doesn’t take very long; secondly, I wanted my child to play with the children from our neighbourhood, and I wanted to socialize with their parents. I thought the local kindergarten would be the right place to meet those kids and their parents. OK, so it turned out that I wasn’t a hundred percent right. Some kids were actually taken there from the other side of the city for the reasons known only to their parents. Still, after almost four years of experience, I think I’d made the right choice. My little girl has made childhood friends who may also be a part of her life later. The small group of princes and princesses has been together for almost four years and I believe that these stable surroundings make the proper environment for a stable and happy childhood.

Should we make endless sacrifices for our child?

March 13, 2016
Sacrifice

Allow me a flash-forward, as I’ll skip a few years to write down my thoughts and describe the events from the present. Some things should be given an account of as soon as they take place; if you leave it for later, you may miss the moment.

For many years I tried to learn what is best for the child of a single mother. What kind of lifestyle would make my daughter develop into a confident, strong and outgoing adult? I don’t live with her father, it’s just the two of us. Her father is present in our lives: sometimes I think that he isn’t around enough, but my friends often say that there is actually too much of him. At first I made sure that he spent as much time with us as possible and tried to include him in every single aspect of my daughter’s life. But, his visits have become less and less frequent. People tend to grow tired of making effort continuously: perseverance is a rare quality. Eventually, I simply gave up. We still travel together occasionally, for the winter or summer holidays. My friends thought I was fighting a losing battle and they were generally convinced that I was dead wrong to act the way I did. There were even those who thought that I still had feelings for my ex, which wasn’t true, but why bother explaining? I thought my child would benefit from having blissful childhood memories, which are always somehow related to travelling with the parents. My daughter enjoyed it and that was reason enough for me.

Until one day, during a recent holiday, I met someone I liked. No matter why, or how and where we met; what matters is that I fell for someone for the first time after many, many years. And the guy, who knew less than nothing about me, could only see an apparently happy family: a couple with a child. Who would ever have thought that this was just a make-believe, that we were just the parents who would say goodbye to each other politely and go their separate ways in just a few days!

People say that what matters most for the mental development of a child is to be convinced that his/her mother is happy and content. The mother should not make endless sacrifices for the child; otherwise, her resentment and frustrations would only stand in the way of good parenting.

Finally, I realized that I was actually free, that I would do my best to make sure my daughter grows up happy. But I am also entitled to happiness. I will no longer keep to myself all those things I should have said, but preferred not to utter out of cowardice or because I thought it was the right thing to do.  

I am free. I love my child more than anything, but it doesn’t mean there is no one out there who could love me too.

Single moms, a personal choice – or not

March 10, 2016
single moms

There are many single moms out there. Some have chosen that way of life, some have not. It seems to me that, regardless of where you live, a family of two people married to each other is still the nuclear, traditional type.  OK, so maybe the institution of a marriage is a thing of the past (although this doesn’t go for all places on earth), but a married couple with children is always a welcome and a generally accepted model. The future fathers proudly walk by their pregnant wives: the larger the belly, the smugger they look. The wife complains and asks for help, the husband runs to her aid and supports her.

And if you’re alone in all that? Like me, for example. In that case, the best thing is to be healthy. I was perfectly healthy, I had no problems at all during my pregnancy. It also important to be reasonable and well organized. To think much and think ahead. To be aware of what is to come and what you may need. And to always know that you can’t really count on anyone but yourself. Of course, friends are always there, and that’s great, but the responsibility ultimately lies only with you. I was the one who took charge of everything. The father-to-be floated around me, in the haze of indecision and uncertainty: now when I think about it, is seems as though he fully grasped what was going on only at the very end of my pregnancy. Besides, he had another pregnant woman to take care of, whom he got pregnant a few months before and who was his official partner. Not many of our former mutual friends even knew about my condition.

I am prudent and well organized by nature. Maybe even too much so, as everybody always say that I worry about details and plan too much. I, on the other hand, really believe that the good organization is a key to success, and I was true to myself in this case as well. I studied carefully all websites and advice the Internet could provide. I made lists, spoke to my girlfriends. I would even occasionally stop to chat with passers-by who took their babies out for a walk: “Are you happy with this stroller? Was it the right choice?” Don’t laugh! I knew that I was responsible for everything and I was determined to prepare the best I could. I should also confess that I had everything I could need (and what I couldn’t possibly make any use of) when I was six months pregnant. Absolutely everything.

This time I really made it

March 3, 2016
time

…you know the feeling when you’re slowly beginning to realise that this time you may have made it…when the result of the pregnancy test you’d bought at the pharmacy is positive and nobody believes you anymore, but you are certain that it’s for real this time. And everything started unfolding in slow motion. As if it was happening to somebody else and I was just observing in silence. New life was shaping slowly but steadily. This time I believed, I was happy, but I tried not to say any of that out loud, just in case evil spirits were listening. My ex-partner (he became an ex in the meantime because he’d finally found the love of his life in the shape of a woman 17 years his junior, who worked for him at the time) couldn’t believe it either. My joy was subdued by the mixed feelings of disbelief and anxiety.  Because his former employee, now promoted to a girlfriend, was also pregnant.  And there. Our lives suddenly became very complicated. I knew about his other child. His girlfriend, though, knew nothing about mine, but she would find out, half a year later.

I didn’t quite understand at first that I would be on my own. For a while, I was hoping for a miraculous twist of fate that would somehow fix everything, but I couldn’t say what kind of miracle I was expecting. Girls are usually told tales about princes and weddings, and there is always a happy ending. This is the 21st century, but we are still far from being fully emancipated. No woman would chose to have a family of only two. Nor do we take the separations lightly. I grew up believing in the traditional family and although it took me so long to start my own, I still believed that my path wouldn’t be very thorny, despite the fact that everything was hinting at a different outcome.

And different it was.

I was pregnant with my first child. My pregnancy went impeccably well. While my friends referred to their pregnancy as “agony” and were eager for it to end, I was preparing to continue my life under new circumstances.