Monthly Archives

May 2017

Every child has a father, right?

May 26, 2017

A few days ago, I spent a couple of hours in the waiting room of one of our admirable institutions to apply for the renewal of an identity document. I’d taken all the necessary measures to survive waiting in the line: first of all, I’d made sure to charge my mobile phone to avoid small talk with complete strangers. But even if you don’t participate in the unbelievably stupid conversations, you certainly have to overhear at least some parts here and there. Thankfully, my blood pressure is normally quite low, so I survived the surge when I heard what I couldn’t help overhearing.

In essence, the conversation between two males went more or less as follows:

The other day, while I was waiting in a line just like today, a woman came in with a small child and demanded to skip the line on account of the child.
No way!? Why didn’t she leave the child with the father?
I actually asked her the same thing. She said the kid had no father. Yeah right! Every child has a father!

I managed to keep my mouth shut. I was on the verge of telling them off, but I bit my tongue. The experience taught me it’s usually a good thing to do. But if I had decided to give them piece of my mind:

I would have told them that some women, either by choice or by chance, give birth to their children without the knowledge of their partners. Sometimes it’s just the way it has to be.

I would have told them that some children are simply abandoned by their fathers even before they are born. The so-called fathers usually keep the reasons for this to themselves.

I would have told them that many children indeed have fathers, but they couldn’t care less about their kids or about the mothers who bring them up on their own. And these women are often forced to do everything else almost without anyone’s help.

I would have told them that many children live with their mothers and see their fathers only when the fathers see it fit rather than when the children need it. These men usually provide no support nor do they take part in the children’s education and upbringing.

So, every child has a father, right?
A biological one, sure.
But the fact that these men provided only a genetic material for the creation of these wonderful beings, does not always mean they’re qualified to take proper care of them.

Only single parents can understand other single parents

May 20, 2017
single parents

Lately, I’ve come across a number of well-intentioned posts about single mothers on the occasion of the Mother’s Day. After that, there have been more encouraging posts by sympathetic authors, who have tried to remind the society about what it could do for us and how other people could help us. The bottom line is that however brave or successful we might be in carrying the heavy burden of bringing up our children alone, the fact is that some assistance could come in handy from time to time.

Yes, parenting is the source of enormous joy and pleasure.

Being a single parent is often a matter of choice. But, it may also be a matter of fate.

A woman who is getting married seldom expects the divorce or, God forbid, the spouse’s death.

We take pride in being capable of coping on our own, in being successful, efficient, clever and good mothers.

We never stop: from the crack of dawn until late in the evening. We plan ahead and make arrangements all the time. Our hands rarely ever do the same thing.

With some luck, we have close relatives or good friends who are prepared to give us a hand from time to time. Sadly, though, that kind of help is often unavailable.

With some luck, our kids know their fathers and see them regularly.

With a great amount of luck, the fact that they live only with their mothers will not affect them much in their childhood and later in life.

With some luck, your ex-partner will support your children financially.

With a lot of luck, we earn enough to provide for our children and give them whatever they need.

A few days ago, my daughter’s teachers asked all the parents to write a short essay about their children and recount a nice anecdote from everyday life. The essays would then be read in public.

Who do you think was the first to submit the essay? A single mother. Me.

Because that’s the way we are.  Because we cannot delegate and must do everything immediately. Because we always have to try hard to make everything work, even when there is really no need. Because there is no one to replace us and take over. Even when it comes to writing simple essays on our children.

All posts about single mothers have surely been written with the best of intentions and I take the opportunity to thank the authors from the bottom of my heart.

And yet, I do believe that only a single parent can truly understand what another single parent is going through, all their fears and frustrations. I know from experience that the life of a single parent is completely different from what life is like in traditional families.

But, we have to soldier on. Sometimes it’s challenging, but there are also times when I’m so happy about our way of life.
All of you who read my posts will surely understand what I mean.

On how single mothers manage to cope

May 16, 2017
single mothers

Last weekend was very challenging but it was basically a single mom’s normal weekend. Shopping, washing, ironing, cooking. Carrying, pulling, dragging. Waking up at dawn because my daughter is already awake at 6.30 am, even on weekends. Tidying up. Catching up on chores. Picking my daughter up from her dad’s after spending Saturday afternoon with him. The ever stressful goodbyes. She wanted to stay a little longer, only a little bit longer. And then her tears, my trying to reason with her. “You live with your mom. Not with your dad. Dad loves you, but you live with your mom and visit your dad whenever you want to, but that has to be arranged in advance.” The latter, though, is a poorly disguised lie. Of course she doesn’t visit him whenever she wants. But it sounds good and he keeps telling her that. All I can do is play along. I have to share an extremely stressful moment with you, an outburst I couldn’t refrain from.   A few days ago she started crying and said that she wanted to see her dad, so I offered her to move to his house and live with him from then on. An uncontrolled reaction I still regret. We finished the discussion in tears, holding each other on the stoop of a nearby building.

The other day, I dropped in at a friend’s house. She is much younger than me, a mother of two. She complained that she couldn’t manage, that she was too busy to breathe. And she has a husband who can give her a hand. OK, so he doesn’t help her much, but at least he’s around. She can go to the hairdresser’s or to a beauty salon, even go out occasionally. She has someone to take the baby out, to fetch baby bottles at night or to help her bring down the fever when the baby is ill. There is someone around who can help pay the bills or take the older son to a football match.

She asked me how I coped, how I managed to handle all the chores, my work, the child and the stress.

Really, how do I cope? I’m not entirely sure. I just switch myself on and start moving. In the evenings, at some point I press the off button. On second thought, single mothers may not even have an off button. Sometimes my body collapses, but my mind is still active. I woke up in the middle of the night many times because I suddenly remembered something important. I keep making notes, on a piece of paper, on my mobile phone. I email reminders to myself. I don’t think I’m ever even in the sleep mode. And that’s not good. Guilty conscious isn’t good. Stress isn’t good. Everything matters, and yet nothing really does. Pushing yourself too hard isn’t good. Is there a specific genetic code implanted in us or is it that life simply makes us franticly pursue perfection? And there is no such thing. There are no rules. Nothing has to be the way we think it should be.

Last night, when I finally went to bed, I was so tired that I couldn’t sleep. There are so many things that I have to do, so many plans, so many wishes. Too many for one person, however strong or capable she may be.

What kind of message did I want to convey to you through this post? Slow down. Perfection exists only in our heads. Look after yourselves and keep well and healthy. Your child needs a capable mother, but also a healthy mother.

Take care!

It took me several years to realize what my child really needs

May 12, 2017

I started to buy stuff for our home long before my daughter was born. I made endless and very detailed lists of must-haves and consulted my more experienced friends about each item. I racked my brains all the time: what’s the best crib? And sheets? And pram? The pram was the subject of a special study; I returned and changed it three times (and I was only halfway through pregnancy).

After the delivery, I bought everything I could find for my daughter. What I couldn’t find in shops, I ordered online or from abroad. I had everything, every single thing. In duplicates and triplicates, just in case.

Toys weren’t selected randomly either. They were all of sorts: educational, for babies, plastic, felt, rustling; small, but not too small; large. I knew every detail about every single brand.

Things gradually piled up.

When she was two, my daughter had toys that she only plays with now (she’s five and a half).

When she was three, she received a fully equipped two-storey Barbie house with two elevators. It took me half a night to put it together. She started playing with it only recently.

My daughter’s bedroom looks like a fairytale. The walls are lined with beautiful, specially ordered shelves with lots of books, and there are several boxes full of toys. The balcony has been turned into storage for toys (there is no more space in her room).

But she mostly plays with the old ragged teddy bear or with the baby bricks she got soon after she was born.

Meanwhile, I stopped buying toys, of course. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever buy a single one.

What’s the point of this story?

She didn’t need most of it.

I bought all those things for myself, because I thought I should. I dreamt about a baby kingdom, a room for the princess, where she would spend her free time and enjoy herself under my watchful eye.

But, what she truly enjoys is going to the park, or riding her scooter, or eating pop-corn and walking on grass. She loves going to the cinema (and stuffing her mouth with pop-corn, naturally).

The temptation was huge and I didn’t resist. I bought all I could for her. She had the most beautiful clothes in the world and more pairs of shoes than me. Her birthdays were planned months ahead and all the arrangements had to be perfect. They indeed were nice and everybody enjoyed themselves, but at an exorbitant cost.

Years had passed before I finally started to realize that kids don’t need all that.

Children like pretty things, they love toys.

But more than toys, they need care and attention.

They need fresh air.

Long walks. Talking about the nature, plants, animals.

Going to the zoo (you can buy pop-corn there too).

Kids need to go to the playgrounds equipped with seesaws, swings and trampolines.

And more pop-corn.

Fries from McDonalds. Maybe some ice-cream, too.

Kids need … other kids.

The grass they can run on, a ball they can kick.

They need … us.

Every child values the time spent with their parents a hundred times more than the most expensive toys in the world.

So, the toys are still there and she does spend great time in her room occasionally.

When she decides to move from “our bedroom” to hers, she’ll probably find more hidden treasure there (“Mom, this was my favorite bunny when I was a baby!”).

I’ve secretly given some of those toys to other mothers who couldn’t afford them. There was no need for them to be simply exhibited there, especially not in those numbers.

Dear mothers, think about this. Toys lure us all the time; no mother would ever refuse to buy her kids the things she can afford. However, what matters to them most is that you spend time with them, that you read them books and tell them stories before they go to sleep. They want you to play with them and teach them about the world and the trials that lie ahead.

So, turn off your computers and cell phones.

I know you’re looking at the screen right now.

Read this post through and then just put all your electronic devices away.

Take your child’s hand and go for a walk. Look at the sky, the trees, the grass. Pick flowers. Pet that dog that’s coming your way.

Talk to each other.

Hug each other.


Life has plenty to offer, apart from those expensive toys.

The day my world collapsed

May 8, 2017

All single parents know how difficult it is to bring up a child alone. It’s even physically demanding.

In the mornings, you have to prepare everything for you and your kid(s).

You’re late for work because you have to drop off your children at the daycare or at school. Or at least see them get on the school bus.

When you finish work, you have to run to pick them up.

In between, you have to buy groceries and do a number of other things.

Weekends aren’t any less busy.

And you do everything on your own.

It’s also financially strenuous; there’s never enough money.

Emotionally, you’re often close to the edge. You try to avoid thinking about the past and focus on your children and their needs.

Children should grow without frustrations, happy as they can be. They should maintain close contact with the other parent (if there is one to speak of). They should never witness your arguments and conflicts…

I am a happy woman because I managed to have a child when no one had expected it anymore, me least of all. I am happy because my daughter is healthy and smart. I am happy because she has a father who loves her and whom she loves back. Her father has another family and more children of his own. They are all little, they have no clue. That’s all very good and I could go on counting my blessings. But…

A few months ago I had to go on a business trip. There was no other option but to leave my daughter at my husband’s for the long ten days. To make things worse, she got chickenpox two days before I left. I spent the ten days with one hand glued to my cell phone.

We survived. In fact, I did; she had a great time. She was in the house full of kids, she had loads of fun. No rules, no restrictions.

It’s probably how it normally works. Mothers impose rules. I like order. My daughter eats and goes to bed at more or less the same time, and she knows why she’s forbidden certain things. When it comes to her father, it’s always fun being around him. She never has to do anything and is allowed whatever she wants.

So, she had a great time with him. She missed me, of course. She called me each morning and each evening. We talked on Skype, we waved at each other, sent kisses to each other.

The other day, she asked me timidly when I would go away on business again so that she could spend a few days at her dad’s.

I fell apart. The world around me collapsed.

My daughter is a healthy, cheerful, smart little girl. She loves both parents. And that is good.

But, I was so hurt by her question. So much so that I couldn’t hold my tongue and I offered to go away forever if she enjoyed spending time at her father’s so much.

My reaction was wrong, tactless, inappropriate.

We both burst into tears.

I felt betrayed.

Instead of feeling happy because my daughter loves being with her dad and her step-siblings, I was afraid that she would want to leave me one day.

I’m not sure that will ever happen.

Being a single parent is not easy, we all know that. Our days are often collages of duties and chores. We are often nervous and tired. We don’t spend enough time with our children, although all we do, we do to make their lives better.  

It’s easy to be interesting and amusing for a couple of hours or several days. That is often so. The fathers who do not have full custody (and who rarely have a major role in bringing up their children from other relationships) will do their best to make sure their children have so much fun for the time they spend together. After that, the children go back to their usual routine, until the next time.

Life is not only about fun; that is something us single mothers know so well. We are simply persistent in giving our children the love and attention they need, and hope for the best. For the children and for ourselves.

Do our children suffer because they don’t live with both parents?

May 7, 2017

I’ve recently exchanged a few emails with one of many single mothers who, like me, often worries if her children are sad or may become sad one day for not growing up with their father. 

There are all kinds of single parents. I write about mothers because I am one. I have the greatest amount of respect for all the single dads out there, and there are surely many who deserve the highest praise, but I can’t put myself in their shoes and have no idea what it’s like for them, so I rarely ever mention them.  

My child has a father, she knows him, she loves him. I believe he loves her, too, in his peculiar self-centered way. That’s fine. I know many women who are raising children on their own, whose kids have never met their respective dads and they are very unlikely to ever meet them. Is it harder for them or for my child? I don’t know.

I spoke to psychiatrists, psychologists, child therapists, etc. They all agree that children cannot grieve for what they have never known. Children of divorce suffer because their parents have separated and one of them has moved out. Children who have never lived with both parents cannot miss the kind of life they haven’t experienced. I’ve been told to refrain from explaining or interpreting. Apparently, children simply accept whatever’s served on their plate if this is done with self-confidence.
In my case: mom and dad don’t live together because they’ve agreed that’s what’s best.


I’m not sure this approach is absolutely correct, but I try to accept it as such because that makes my life easier.

Another thing I truly believe: our kids absorb our emotions. They see and hear everything, even when we are unaware of it. They can’t be fooled easily. A happy mother = a happy child.

So, do your best to be happy.

I know it’s not easy. I know that it’s a struggle against yourself, against time.

Very often, it’s a struggle to come up with enough money.

In short, a struggle to survive.

I don’t know how it’s done, how I can become the world’s happiest mother over night. But I now understand how important it is.

A smile. Good mood. Jokes. Playing games. A daily dose of fun everyone needs.

That is how our children will grow up without frustrations and complexes, and they’ll always remember that with us, their mothers, they had the most beautiful childhood imaginable.



Truth about single parents’ lifestyle

May 3, 2017
single parent

I will never lie to you. Especially not here, after you’ve already made an effort and given me your trust, using your precious time to read one of my posts. What is it like to be a single parent? Most of you probably know that only too well. But for those of you who are still wondering, let me tell you, it’s hard. Extremely hard.

You’re exhausted all the time. You keep checking your watch and running somewhere, like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. And the time keeps slipping away, tic, toc.

You get up at the crack of dawn, already tired because you haven’t slept enough. It goes for both business days and weekends. At least, it makes no difference in my case because my daughter wakes up at weekends even earlier than during the week.

You always wash something, or iron, or cook.

You clean up with your left hand while you type texts on your cell with the right.

There were days when I couldn’t take a bath because I was alone with a small child, so I didn’t dare go to the bathroom. I used to wait for her to fall asleep, but I’d be so knackered by then that the only thing I was capable of was to brush my teeth.

On some days, I even took her to the toilet with me, just in case.

I used to meet my friends for a coffee with the baby in the pram lying next to us. I took her to the doctor’s with me. To the hairdresser’s… In fact, I didn’t go there for a while.

I could go on forever, recounting all the strange and difficult moments I had to go through on my own. But the point is quite clear: it was hard.

Is it easier now that my daughter is a bit older? Yes and no. She understands plenty, but that can also be a problem. I now have to be very careful about what I say. Each telephone call is carefully analyzed. Each communication with her father must be well-thought in advance.

To sum up, it is very hard and exhausting to be a single parent. However, I do know many couples who haven’t had it any easier than me. It was simply my life’s path. It was partly of my own choosing, and partly the result of circumstances.

My advice to all of you who have taken time – which I know is scarce – to read one of my posts is to try to be around the people who love you and whom you love, too. It is better to be single than to be stuck in a bad relationship or marriage. It is often better to do everything on your own than to live in an illusion that you are not alone. It is better for your children to be raised by a fully committed single parent than by a formal family where they would be exposed to quarrels and intolerance.

It is hard, but for you and your children it is much better than any other unpleasant option.

All the effort you are making to ensure they enjoy their childhood to the fullest will surely bring you joy and happiness in return. I believe that with all my heart.