Monthly Archives

March 2017

I’ll think about that tomorrow

March 29, 2017

Another busy day has gone by, an exhausting race against time, filled with small joys and frustrations. While I’m watching my daughter sleep, I’m wandering where to start, what to do first. I decide to open a drawer full of memories…

Mother’s day is celebrated in many countries on different dates and in different ways. But, there is one thing they all have in common, and that is the love expressed to mothers by their children. Those precious small gifts, made by tiny fingers with utmost care and in the greatest secrecy, are among the most wonderful joys of motherhood. For several years now, my daughter has been clumsily designing and constructing these trinkets in the kindergarten workshop, the presents I always receive happily and store in a safe place so that I can show them to her one day. I’ve already filled one drawer with memories: birthday cards, drawings and all kinds of figurines and other objects made by my child. Whenever I feel sad, displeased or simply tired, I open the drawer and remind myself of how much I love her and that nothing else in life matters as much. Like so many times before, I analyze the things I’ve done, what I could have done better and what I haven’t done at all, although I should have. I could criticize myself all day long and make plans for undoing my failures. But the time flies… Her childhood will be over soon, and I will probably regret the missed opportunities for good. 

So, I leave the unwashed dishes aside. I put the wrinkled clothes back into the closet. I jump over the toys scattered on the floor. I turn off the phone and forget about the unread emails.

None of these really matter. What I haven’t done today, I’ll do tomorrow.  

One thing does matter though, now and forever, and that is love and attention.

All our children need is to feel loved and cared for. Our children do not see the things that bother us. They are nourished by our love and by the emotions we express. They need the security we provide, our unconditional love, smile and embrace.

And the dishes, ironing, cleaning? Well, tomorrow is another day.


Me a Perfect Mother? Not Even Close!

March 18, 2017
perfect mother

I love to read the stories posted on the websites which deal with similar topics like mine. The approaches to this sensitive subject may be different, but there is one common thread to all of them, tying all our life stories together. Much has been written about the kids with divorced parents, about the kids whose parents never lived together or about those who have never met their father. What is common to all these stories is that all mothers put their children first. They work hard to support and bring their children up, and their kids are always on their minds.

It’s easy for me identify with all those mothers. Of course, our circumstances are different and we are different people, with our own mindsets and solutions devised to solve our problems.

Is it hard? Yes, very often it is.

I admit I’m not a perfect mother. Is it because I’m too bossy and have a tendency to control everything around me? Or is it because I’m often afraid of the future and the fact that I can ultimately rely only on myself?

I admit I’m nervous sometimes.

I admit I often act like a dictator.

I admit I often forget that a child is – well, only a child.

We can’t expect our children to understand that we occasionally feel tired or frustrated. A child wants to play, to sing, to be cheerful. It’s normal for a child to make a mess and although we might want them to be as obedient as little troopers, it is seldom possible or even natural.  Children need their freedom, adventures, to see how far they can go. And their mothers, out of too much fear or feeling of responsibility, tend to place too many constraints on them and control them even when we should let them loose, let them breathe.

I want to make some promises to myself and to my child:

That I will try never shout at her again.
That from now on, however tired or busy, I’ll always find the time to play with her.
That I will take her to a park whenever she feels like it.
That I will read her stories every evening.
That I will never reach for my mobile phone and my laptop when we’re together.
That I will always find the time for her when she needs it.
That I will always smile and be cheerful

That, from now on, I will start making good on the promises I make.

And then daddy started a new family

March 7, 2017

This is something that has been bothering me, actually, something I have been obsessing about for over five years, since my daughter’s birth. Her father and I got separated before she was born so she has never lived with both parents. Whether it’s good or bad, time will tell. They say it’s bad for children to witness their parents’ arguing and bickering.  The divorce is also regarded as a traumatic experience for kids, so the children who simply don’t know what it’s like to be separated from their father, like my daughter, seem to be happier. Living with a single parent is a fait accompli. For them, it is normal because it is all they know. All single parents can do is to accept their fate and do their best to make sure their child is surrounded with love and attention that would somehow make up for what’s missing.

All this sounds great in theory, but in real life it isn’t simple at all. All single parents, who can only rely on their own resources, like me, know this all too well.

There is another delicate issue faced by divorced parents and those who have never raised their child with another person: physical custody and parenting time.

In my case, the issue of custody has never been debated. It is only natural to award the sole custody to mother except in cases when they are found to be unfit for the role. This is exactly what I wanted. Shared custody is a utopia I wouldn’t hear about.

Everybody knows that the parent who doesn’t live with the child is allowed parenting time in line with legislation and judicial ruling. The patterns, at first sight, seem reasonable. For example, the father has the right to spend time with the child alone one or two afternoons per week and every other weekend. When the child reaches certain age, the father is allowed to spend a part of the winter and summer holidays with the kid, etc.

My situation was different since I made a lot of effort to maintain a good relationship with my ex-partner. We spent a lot of time together and tried to make sure that our child lives a happy and fulfilled life.
However, when the ex-partner starts a new family, which happened in our case, the idyllic vacations spent together become history. The child is forced to see the father together with his new family and the single mother simply has to grin and bear it.

Is it easy? Not at all. Some people claim that it is good for children to spend time with their half-brothers and sisters, and to accept the parents’ new families as their own. There could be truth in it. Sadly, I still find this difficult to accept. I keep waiting for the moment when my daughter will start asking me questions to which I have no answers.

I’ve often heard that “even the kids who live with both parents don’t see their father much because he works all day”. I disagree. Children who live with both parents are well aware of this. My child has never lived with her father and it breaks my heart when she squeals: “Mummy, can I go see daddy today after the kindergarten?” Sometimes she can, and more often than not she can’t. Her dad has another family and his own obligations.

Do children need both parents? It seems so. Can a single mother make up to her child for all that the child had been deprived of under the circumstances? Time will tell.

Actually, why does my child sleep in my bed?

March 2, 2017

By way of explanation for those of you who have read my previous post: this is a continuation of that post, based on the observations and comments made by the readers, mostly single moms. The question whether kids should sleep in the same bed with their single parents, mostly with their mothers, is obviously controversial. Most comments I have received are positive and confirm that kids like sleeping with their moms and the moms generally don’t think it’s a problem. One mother complained about not getting enough sleep when her child spends the night in the same bed, which is completely understandable. My daughter is 5 and a half, she always sleeps with me and kicks me all night long. She is also a wriggly sleeper and tends to push off the quilts or blankets, so my nights are normally spent between dodging her kicks and putting the blankets back on.

There are all kinds of theories about this subject. The most hard-core advocates of early independence believe that the child should sleep in a separate bedroom practically from day one. It sounds ok, but I could easily picture myself running all night from one part of the flat to the other to feed/change/cover/calm the baby, so I gave up on the idea of early separation very quickly.

So I did the next best thing: I placed the crib beside my bed and thus enabled the physical separation, but also kept her close enough to make things easier for me.

It all worked so well during the first year. Admittedly, I did catch a cold several times as I got up so many times during the nights to feed/change/cover/calm the baby, but my bed was mine only.  

This went on until she joined her first collective and got her first disease. The simplest way to keep the child’s fever in check is to put the child to sleep in your bed. That’s how it started.

Ever since she spent that first night by my side, she’s grown so accustomed to it that she now refuses to change the habit. In my defence, I did make several artful attempts to talk her into going back to her bed, but to no avail.

Whom am I kidding? I admit I haven’t tried hard enough. In fact, I did try, but my heart wasn’t really in it.

Why? I found out recently.

It wasn’t because it was good for her or because she was afraid. Nor was it because she needed more reassurance in life as she depended on only one parent.

It was because I liked it. My child did not need additional security that sleeping with her mother could provide. I needed the relief that I feel every time I hold my sleeping beauty. Because I am afraid. I’m afraid of what life would bring, of how her development would proceed. I fear I will lack the strength and energy to prepare her for life. That is why she still sleeps in my bed and makes my life seem better and easier. I’m still not sure if that is the best thing for her. She is attached to me and I don’t think that would be the case if she lived with both parents. Or maybe it’s simply in her nature. One day she will move to her own room anyway. Until then, she can sleep with me and thus give me strength and support to withstand the challenges that lie ahead.