Monthly Archives

April 2017

Rules are made – to be broken

April 26, 2017

Yes, this is my daughter sitting on my (i.e. our) bed, eating a pie and watching cartoons.

We can’t and shouldn’t always insist on the rules.

We sometimes have to forget about them.

Me, I like rules. I always thought that the order and discipline are the key to success. Even in the context of parenthood. I firmly believe that meals should be eaten at the table, at the specified time. And that’s how it usually is.

But there are days… There are days when I’m sick and tired of everything.

There are moments when I simply give in.

And I must admit I like it.

May these moments be understood as the exceptions that prove the rule.

And it gives such joy to a child to be allowed to do something that is normally forbidden. It may give them even more satisfaction than if they could have it their way all the time.

I admit I enjoyed it too. We both nibbled at our pieces of the pie, right there on the bed.

We have a new game. We pretend we are friends, talking about life. Much is allowed in the game that usually is not. Don’t worry, the game doesn’t last very long, but it’s enough for both of us to enjoy ourselves and find new pleasures.

We sometimes have to give our children some space and freedom. Make it harmless, innocent freedom. Try to loosen your grip. Nothing bad will happen if you allow yourself and your children some freedom occasionally.  

Breathe, laugh, make jokes, be merry.

Try it, it’s easy. It’s harmless.

Because that also makes you a parent; actually, it makes you a good parent.

What’s the definition of successful parenthood?

April 24, 2017

I often wonder how I should educate my child and in which direction I should push her. More specifically, how can I help her become a happy person? But then, an inevitable question follows: what is happiness and how can it be measured?

Is it to be well off? Is it to have a nuclear family? Will she be happy if she’s well-read and well-spoken? Finally, what should I do, which goal am I supposed to pursue so that one day I could say that I was a good parent? And what does it actually mean to be a good parent?

In our material world, parents are often considered to have succeeded in their mission if their children have a university degree and live comfortably. If they also manage to start their own family, their parents can reasonably expect to be worthy of the highest praise. But, what about those people who cannot afford to put their children through university? And what if my or your child simply doesn’t develop an affinity for studying and resents pursuing a career that requires university training? Would that make us bad parents?

Don’t get me wrong. I do want my daughter to be educated, and I sincerely hope she has a big, happy family one day. However, despite all my good wishes and best efforts, I cannot guarantee that that’s how it’s going to be. So, apart from teaching her, the best I can, how to conquer the world, I also want to teach her:

to be hard-working. Whatever she does in life, I hope she gives it all she’s got. I want her to be able to understand the value of her and other people’s work;

to be honest to herself and others. To be loyal to her friends and family;

to be decent and polite;

to be moral;

to be open-minded, tolerant to others and full of understanding;

to be a noble soul.

I will be happy and will consider myself a successful parent if my child becomes a well educated, hard-working and highly moral human being. For now, I can only do my best to make it so one day, and time will tell if I have done it right.



Moments that heal

April 19, 2017

Lately, my daughter has taken to playing the following game:

« I love you, mom. »
I should then respond «I love you more»
She would then say, « And I love you even more! »
I am expected to feign surprise and burst into laughter because she’s managed to trick me in the same way for the nth time.

(These are actually her favorite lines from Disney’s Rapunzel, exchanged by the protagonist and her “mother” Gothel.)

These are the moments that help me survive the stress, disappointments, exhaustion, sadness.

These are moments that heal.

When the clapping of her small hands wakes me up in the morning, accompanied by her voice repeating “I want water, I want water”,

When I lie on the bed, exhausted, and I suddenly feel her tiny fingers on my back – “Do you like the massage, mum? Is it better now?”

When my daughter suddenly starts limping and complaining about bellyache because she’s hurt like me,

When every time before we go to sleep she asks me to lie next to her for a while and hug her,

When she tells me the same joke over and over (actually, the only joke she knows) – “How do you say taxi in Greek? Well, taxi!”

How she bounces with joy when I bring her pop-corns to eat while she watches her favorite cartoon,

When we both wear dresses: “Mom, we look the same!”

When she tells me that she’ll be a mom, just like me, when she grows up,

When she asks me if she can be only my baby forever,

When she starts telling me about her dream at 6 am (while I’m still sleeping),

When she runs into the kitchen, opens the fridge door and tells me that she’s starving at 7 am,

When she gives me a hug out of the blue and rubs her head against my shoulder,

When she asks me to turn up the radio in the car and tries to sing Hello along with Adele,

When she calls my bed our bed.

These moments help me soldier on when it’s hard, when I’m nervous and tired of everything. The moments that truly heal.

I admit I’m often clueless

April 14, 2017

When I started writing posts for this website, a friend asked me why I avoided giving parenting tips, since the website itself was named Single Mom Tips. Why wasn’t I writing about practical child-rearing issues? My answer was simple: I doubt I’m qualified to lecture others on being single parents. When you decide to launch a website, in case you don’t already have an ingenious title in mind, you are basically in an uncharted territory, and sometimes you just pick the title which is available at the time.

So, yeah, I admit, I’m not one of those ideal mothers who can always find the right way to explain to you what to do, what to cook, how to bring up your child and what you’re doing wrong. Honestly, more often than not, I don’t have a clue myself. This website is the fruit of my need to share my personal ideas about parenthood with others. A good reading can be a cure for everything. Other people’s posts have meant a lot to me and many have helped me in difficult situations. In the same way, I hope someone will find support in my writings.

For those of you who are new to this blog, my child is a product of strange circumstances, the last of many frozen embryos which were very unlikely to develop. Nobody was expecting me to get pregnant anymore, myself and my partner included. And yet, I did get pregnant and carried my baby to term without any difficulties in spite of my advanced age. During the first year, like many other mums, I raced against the clock all the time, and obsessed about feeding and changing the baby day and night. When I finally went back to work, I had to leave my daughter in the nursery during the day, so I gradually established a normal daily routine. 

Have I done things wrong? So many times, that I prefer not to remember. In my defence, I did try to maintain a disciplined course and I’m convinced that this is the primary reason why my daughter is healthy and fit.
When you raise your child alone, you have to become a control freak because you know you can’t always count on other people’s help.
Maybe the time has finally come for me to relax a bit and allow my daughter to be spontaneous and free, as all children of her age should be.
I’m still quite anxious, I wake up at night to check her breathing and put the blanket back on. I still leave the bathroom door open and ask her where she is and what she’s doing every two minutes. I still hold her hand tightly when we walk down the stairs.

So I hope you don’t mind this blog is seldom about giving tips. It may be that I need them more than you.

I would never advise single mothers to relax and be carefree. Deep down I believe that no mother can ever be totally relaxed when it comes to her child.

My only tip to you would be to keep your family and friends close and never stop showing to your children that they are the most precious human beings in the world to you. As for the rest, well, God help us all.

When you think your child is blissfully unaware

April 12, 2017

There’s something I’ve only recently discovered. There have been situations when I thought that my daughter didn’t understand or hear something, or that she was simply unaware of what was going on. It’s also possible that it was I who was unaware of the small being next to me, who carefully watched all I did and took in all I said.

I understand that now. A couple of days ago I had an unpleasant phone call with her father, and I told him that he was never around and didn’t give a damn about anything. When I put the phone down, I saw my daughter’s worried face. She was standing next to me the whole time and heard every word.

I thought that she was still too young and immersed in her own world or in a game, that she couldn’t possibly hear all I said or even interpret my emotions.

Who knows how many times I was in a foul mood? I’ve sometimes quarrelled with people over the phone when she was around, she witnessed many arguments that I thought she couldn’t possibly comprehend. Or perhaps I didn’t care enough. I now realize that every single one of those occasions has probably left an imprint and that it won’t be shaken off so easily.

This doesn’t go only for single parents. It is true that we are in a more delicate situation so we simply have to pay more attention to what our children see or hear us do or say.

My daughter always notices my moods.  

She has heard and understood my argument with her father.

Each time I was upset, she felt it.

Is there any way that it could be good for her? Should we burden our children with our problems and frustrations? I don’t think so. I’m convinced we should do our best to spare them and keep our troubles and negative thoughts to ourselves.

A friend, who is also a shrink, once told me that bringing up a child by a single parent is like walking a thin line: it requires exceptional acrobatic skills and much pretence. She also said that it was very important for a child to see a self-confident, positive and stable mother, who can be a true role model.

I can only hope that it’s not too late for me to correct all my mistakes and make sure my daughter’s not permanently affected by the events she has witnessed.


On emotional development of the children with separated parents

April 5, 2017
emotional development

“One day, I’ll be a mum, just like you. I’ll have my one baby. I just have to find a dad for the baby…” My daughter loves the game when we pretend we are friends, having serious, grown-up talks. During these conversations, she often hints at whatever’s bothering her at the time…

This is something I have thought about a lot lately. My daughter is 5 and a half years old. She has never lived with her father because the two of us had separated before she was born. According to some people, children who have always lived with a single parent are less traumatised and scarred than those of divorced parents. It is possible, but… Not long ago, her behaviour slightly changed or perhaps it is something that I’d failed to notice until recently. At first glance, she is communicative and outgoing, but in fact, I thing she is quite reticent. She can easily burst into laughter, she can have fun, and start crying easily. But she doesn’t say much. She rarely opens up and it’s hard for me to find out what’s on her mind. I’d thought that children, especially such small children, were never really distressed. However, some of the things she’s said lately have had me worried. This is why I’ve decided to write a few lines about the emotional states and development of children, which is something to which I haven’t paid much attention so far.

An experienced and wise paediatrician once told me that it is always best to bring up the children by following our intuition. We should keep in mind some basic rules, but avoid adhering to them too much. Well, easier said than done. Life makes you think about material stuff 24/7 and when it turns you into a logistics-oriented machine, there’s little room for improvising. This may go on for years until one day it dawns on you that your child is not a robot to be fed, dressed and cared for, but an emotional, thinking being.

It’s quite hard to make yourself think outside the box and start dealing with the emotional development of your child. Years go by quickly and the missed opportunities rarely present themselves again.

So, if at all possible, try to reserve an hour a day in your busy schedules to talk to your child. About anything. Find a new topic, invent interesting stories. Walk with them, comment on what you see. Open the door to your world of adults for them to peek inside. And they will let you into their small worlds in turn, into a dimension we don’t remember anymore. Stay away from your computer or mobile phone. All of us who bring up our children alone always have a good justification for being constantly busy. A day is too short for all our chores, there’s never enough money. Still, we have to find a way to pay due attention to the emotional development of our children before it’s too late. The suppressed childhood fears may do a lot of damage later and leave far-reaching consequences.