Even single mothers have some free time every now and then, or maybe they don’t, but they simply have to take a break to give the body and the mind a moment to recover. The perpetuum mobile hardly ever stops; we seem to be condemned to an endless loop of work, tidying up, ironing, taking care of the children and so on.
We also need to relax from time to time, and we want to make sure that both we and our children enjoy it.
So, what are a single mother and her child supposed to do at weekends, after shopping, lunch, tidying, etc.? When my daughter was only months old, it was so much easier. We used to take a stroll, go shopping, go to coffee shops. She behaved well, played with her toys, drank her juice and looked around.
When she grew up, however, things became a little more complicated.
Kids are social beings. They want to be around other kids and have fun. They want to visit other kids and invite them to their homes.
This is something I have been thinking about for quite some time now, but it took a while before I could put it into words. I’ve finally decided to tackle it, and it isn’t easy because it’s an unquestionable, but a delicate matter.
People around us mostly live in nuclear families. A husband, a wife and their children.
And couples like spending time – with other couples
You know how it works: a couple with kids is invited to visit another couple with kids.
Women chat about children, food, maybe movies, or hairstyles and fashion (this is less likely – they rarely have time for it), life in general.
Their husbands brag about their business prowess, talk about sports, maybe discuss politics.
Meanwhile, kids run around the house, make a mess, spill stuff all over the place, leave crumbs from their snacks everywhere.
What happens when a mother doesn’t have a husband or a partner?
A single mother is only seldom invited to the homes of other couples with children. She simply doesn’t fit into the previously described environment, unless it’s a birthday party. Sadly, it is quite normal. Single mothers with their kids are rarely considered a desirable company because they would normally talk mostly with the women. And what would the husbands or partners do meanwhile? A single mother would have to be extremely interesting, eloquent, successful and amusing to be accepted as a good, sufficient and desirable company and guest.
There’s another reason for this, as a divorced friend has recently revealed to me: her female acquaintances sometimes avoided inviting her to parties and gatherings for fear that their husbands would flirt with the divorced, ergo available woman (who would therefore surely be “more prone to affairs”).
I didn’t mean to complain though. I only wanted to portray the reality of a single mother and her child as it is, to point to certain clichés which are seldom discussed.
Having said all this, I can’t help but notice that I’m certainly not the only single mother, right? Right. I know many myself. So, why don’t we spend time with each other? Well, we do.
It’s human (written in our genetic code, I guess) to want to live in a community – a mom, a dad, their children. Our culture considers everything but a nuclear family and traditional relations an exception. My daughter has never lived with her dad; yet, she loves him genuinely and innocently. When we go see other people, she often asks: “Can dad come along”? When we do (rarely, though) visit other couples with children at their homes, she notices that “Maya’s dad is home in the evenings, with her”. On such occasions, all I can do is gather all the remaining strength, put on my warmest smile and tell her: “It doesn’t matter. Her dad lives with her, your dad has his own home, and some kids don’t have a dad at all. It’s all fine…”
I repeat, this is not another sad story or complaint. Some “well-meaning” individuals have told me: “Surely you could’ve guessed what it would be like. You shouldn’t complain now.” And I’m not. I’m only trying to point to a fact that people often fail to notice.
I didn’t know and no one could predict what life would be like under specific circumstances. I didn’t know and nobody who merely observes my life from the outside can possibly realize what it’s like to live alone with a child in a society that stands on a totally different basis.