Monthly Archives

September 2017

So what if I had a baby at an advanced age?

September 28, 2017
age

For those who are new to this blog, let me introduce myself. I’m a Supermom. It sounds better than a single mom. It’s more powerful, more positive. And we who raise our kids on our own need that power and loads of positive energy, day after day.

My daughter will soon be six and she attends a daycare center. I’ve already written about how I was forced to enroll her in a nursery at the end of my maternity leave. Since then, our daily routine has been pretty much the same: nursery (then a kindergarten) – work – chores – home.

At some point, we joined the stream of endless birthday parties, thrown in rented playrooms, filled with happy, energetic children and us, parents.
Single parents often face some sort of social isolation. Couples with children usually invite to their homes other couples with children so that the men can talk to men, and women with other women, while their kids run around the house, making a mess.
At children’s birthday parties, things are different. Normally only one parent would drop the kids off, so on these occasions I manage to blend in and rarely ever read the eternal silent question in other people’s eyes: what about the dad?

My daughter’s birthday calendar is quite full and each party resembles the other: kids run around the playroom, the birthday boy or girl sits at the head of the table while the attendees sing “Happy birthday toooo yooouu” … I talk to other mothers and feel like a rightful member of the parents’ community.

On one of those occasions, I spoke to a mother whose kid crawled through a labyrinth with my daughter, both doing their best to get stuck in there.
I knew that she was young, but when she told me that her mother was almost my age, I tried hard not to blush.

Every woman has her own concept of life. Some decide to start a family early, and I must say they’re right. They’re right because that’s what they want, and that is the most important thing.

Others prefer to wait until their careers take off or they simply can’t find the right man so quickly. That is fine too.  

I belong to the third group of women because I didn’t really know what I wanted until life itself pointed me in certain direction.

This is why I now spend time at kids’ birthday parties with other mothers who are much younger than me, although our children are the same age.

Does it feel awkward? A bit.

It seems to be in human nature to judge other people by certain norms and standards. Truth be told, other kids’ parents have never offended me, but the look of surprise on their faces, their curiosity and condescending smiles make me feel ill at ease.

In short, my story is as follows: for a long time, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted. Then I found out. I started trying to get pregnant quite late in life and when my wish finally came true, the relationship with my partner fell apart.
It’s my mistake I didn’t become a mother sooner.
My age doesn’t bother me though. Despite my confusion and occasional errors, I do my best in every way.

Each one of us has her own concept of life. Or not. But that is also human.
Some women become mothers when they’re young.
Some, like me, when they’re not so young. That isn’t so bad.
I now know what I want.
I know what I can do, and that’s plenty. Life has taught me that much.

I may be trying harder than others. Why? Because I always think about how old I’ll be when my daughter starts going to primary school, to secondary school or to the university.
I have doubled my efforts because I feel that my time is more limited and I have to prepare my child for life.
I also do my best to look well, not because of vanity, but because I don’t want my daughter to suffer when I’m compared to other, younger mothers. And people can be cruel and mean.

Dear women, we are all different. We have different characters, wishes, capacities, and destinies. Some start dreaming about a happy family at an early age. Some spend more time searching and find themselves later in life.

Try not to be biased or judgmental.

Older mothers are not strange and curious creatures.

My daughter would probably be happy to have a young mother who would live to meet her grandchildren.
But even though that cannot be, what she does have is a strong, capable mother who has learnt not to take anything for granted and who would do whatever’s in her power to make sure her child has plenty of love, attention and a bright future.

 

Is a messy house unavoidable if you have kids?

September 21, 2017
messy

Time is one of my worst enemies. Normally, I get up early in the morning and immediately start tidying up or getting ready for work or both. This is followed by alternate begging and threatening: Could you please hurry up? Have you peed? Get dressed. No, no, panties first, then the trousers… You’ve put on two different socks… I’m turning off the TV if you don’t hurry up… Please, comb your hair… Don’t make me do it…

What comes next is the usual madness of a work day or the positive madness of a normal weekend.

And there’s never enough time.

Finally, the day has come. I’ve decided to invite a friend with her child to our house.

I plucked up the courage to do it.

Because I must admit my home is a mess.

People normally keep at least the living room tidy, just in case unexpected guests show at the door. In our case, it isn’t so, at least not right now. Because what you can find in our living room is the following:

The ironing board.

The washing waiting patiently in the basket, probably thinking: better late than never!

My daughter’s toys. Leaving them in the living room was how she interpreted my command “move the toys out of the hall”.

Jackets which could not be stored elsewhere. (Yes, even the winter jackets, so what?)

Christmas tree decorations which couldn’t find their way to the closet for some unfathomable reason, so they now lie in wait, hoping to snatch the first opportunity to shine.

Half a cup of yoghurt (oh, there it is! I looked for it everywhere!).

Sliced apple on a plastic plate, on the floor, behind the armchair (yeah, mom, I’ve eaten everything)

The ironing board is obviously there, but I can’t remember where I’ve put the iron…

It doesn’t matter, we’ll sit on the balcony. But, first I have to:

Move the bike and the scooter (but where?);

Take out the garbage (the balcony is where it’s normally deposited, when the dustbin is full);

Collect the dry clothes (and add them to the pile in the living room)

Luckily, there’s a dining room to make a relaxed atmosphere, where the two of us could sit together. But, where can I put two cups of coffee and sandwiches? You think it’s simple?  The table is covered with my daughter’s drawings, her master-pieces. She gets very angry if I touch them, let alone move them.

And I definitely can’t allow my guest to peek into my kitchen:

The sink is full of dishes.

I can’t remember the last time I cleaned the oven.

Ok, at least the floor is clean.

What if my guest wants to wash her hands?

The bathroom is presentable, with the exception of the wash basin, artistically splashed with body lotion (but, mom, I just wanted my hands to be soft and beautiful). The liquid soap is breathing its last (but, mom, I just wanted my hands to be clean) and the bath tub is full of headless Lalaloopsy dolls  (but, mom, you said I could wash them too).

My daughter’s room I won’t even dare describe.

Yes, time is my nemesis. I simply can’t cope.

And yet, I thought it was a good idea to invite people to our home. I guess the state of emergency is a normal occurrence in all homes with children. We regularly step on things, collect them and remove them – it’s our reality. Whoever claims they can do better – I dare them to prove it!

 

My daughter’s real home is daycare, but that’s ok

September 15, 2017
daycare

I often joke that my kid was born in her daycare and that it’s her real home. But, there is a grain of truth in every joke, and here are some of my ideas about the nursery, daycare, socialization and immunity.

*****

I’m an avid reader of many blogs which sum up people’s experiences, victories and fears. I’ve read hundreds of posts about „saying goodbye“ to children and the pain of „separation“, about the mothers following with tearful eyes their offspring turning away from them for the first time and entering a new space with some new kids, together with the detailed description of the mother’s state of mind and depressing ruminations about life in general. In the end, common sense usually triumphs and it turns out to be a growing opportunity for both mom and the kid. All this expressed in five hundred words and illustrated with a photo of a two- or three-year old moving away with a backpack on his back, waving goodbye to his mom as if they would be apart for good, and not only for a couple of hours.

The trick question for all parents is whether they should enroll their kids in an institution or hire a sitter. In reality, they rarely think about it before it becomes an urgent matter. Most are confident they would come up with something or that maybe at least one grandparent would volunteer. Some parents also make enough money to hire a sitter on a regular basis.

I started dealing with this issue when my daughter was six months old. My mom is over 70, so I couldn’t ask her to take care of my daughter. We don’t have many relatives, so that wasn’t an option either. I therefore first tried to find a babysitter.

Many parents believe that children should spend most time at home until they are three, or maybe even longer, and then they start considering taking them to the daycare from time to time to „learn to socialize“  before they start going to school“.  But, why should children stay at home before they reach three years of age? This is something I always asked the advocates of this theory, but I never got a clear and reasonable answer. They usually looked utterly perplexed (what the heck is she going on about? It’s only natural for small kids to be mostly at home) and offered the arguments such as: kids should at least start to walk, get rid of the diapers,  become stronger, have better immunity, etc. before they are enrolled in a kindergarten. However, it seems to me that they just opted for an easier solution. Or maybe they just managed to find a grandma willing to accept the task. And who at the right mind would be prepared to wake a small child so early in the morning and get them ready for the kindergarten or nursery? That would be too stressful and exhausting (agreed) and so the kids would stay at home for the first couple of years of their lives.

Since I had no choice, I simply had to send my daughter to the nursery.

Yes, that’s right, I am the cruel, heartless mother who took her baby to the nursery when she was only eleven months old. She wasn’t even walking properly, she still used a milk bottle and rarely ever took the pacifier out of her mouth.

What was it like? It was fine. I spent the whole first day at the nursery with her. During the next couple of days, I would leave her there, take a walk and return in a few hours. After two weeks, she fully adapted to the daily routine in the collective.

Heartless as I was, I surrendered my 11-months-old to the mercy of complete strangers. In my defense, there were other kids with her, also abandoned by their cold-blooded parents to toddle in all directions, put other kids’ pacifiers in their mouths and occasionally burst into tears for no apparent reason.

Many years have passed since that first day at the nursery.

Every morning is still a battle: she often watches cartoons and refuses to get up or runs to her room to play and won’t come out. We always argue over getting dressed, combed, washed, about her shoes, the cartoons and an endless list of other reasons.

Was the nursery, and then the day care the best option? For the two of us, it most definitely was. In fact, it was the only option. And I don’t regret it.

I’m not saying that others should do the same. We all have our reasons, paths and criteria. All people are different, and so are their kids.

What was acceptable for my child and me may not be for others.

About Mary, the Supermom

September 10, 2017
supermom

This is a story about a friend of mine who happens to be a single mother, a supermom. In truth, it’s not only about her: it’s about many women who bravely take on their daily challenges and raise their kids alone, just like her.

I won’t reveal her real name. The fact is that we, single mothers, often feel embarrassed about taking care of our children without a husband or a partner. Most of us have to deal with social isolation, and the lack of understanding or support from our family, institutions or other people… In short, there are lots of reasons why many single mothers prefer to keep to themselves and avoid discussing openly their family situation or difficulties they face.

Let’s call her Mary.

Mary got married young, “at the right age” as they say, and soon got a daughter, and then a son. Like many other married women in my country, she was employed, took care of the children, did the housework, etc.  

Her marriage fell apart when her kids were 14 and 8, respectively.
Luckily for her, her family lived in a house she had inherited from her parents. Her husband moved out and she remained, with two adolescent children.
I guess many of you have a good idea what it’s like. The boy missed a father figure. The girl used to cry all night.
And what about the father? Well, he blamed her for more or less everything that had gone wrong in their marriage and badmouthed her in front of the kids and their friends whenever he got the chance.
During the ten years since the divorce, Mary has been true to herself: she has never criticized her ex-husband in the presence of their children.

It’s been hard, occasionally even humiliating. Friends take sides. Some have stopped calling her and pretend they don’t know her when they see her in the street.

She had to go to the court to get the miserable alimony from her ex.

Ten years have passed. Meanwhile, Mary has worked hard, lost her job a couple of times, then found another and started over. Her daughter has completed her university studies, and her son is still at school.
Single mothers surely know how difficult it is to raise two children and put them through school with one modest source of income.

We met a few days ago, which was one of the rare opportunities for me to get out without my daughter.
My daughter is six and she has never lived with her dad, so my story is somewhat different from hers. However, I value greatly her advice and any experience she chooses to share with me.

Who could even imagine that Mary, with her neat hairdo and makeup, struggles to pay off her loans and rarely has any cash in her wallet?
Only her swollen, tearful eyes would occasionally reveal her emotional struggles. But whenever I asked her about what was going on, she would only say: “Oh, it doesn’t really matter. It will pass. I just need some space.”

That’s what supermoms are like: from the moment they come to terms with the reality, they simply decide to stand firmly on their feet and never to give in. Whether it is pride or spite that gives them strength is irrelevant. When you have no alternative and can only rely on your own inner resources, you are infused with new energy and willpower.

If your income is comparatively low, splitting a single salary between three adults can’t be easy. Besides, alimonies are usually so small and the institutional assistance so negligible that a single mother can’t normally rely on either. Some help may come from parents, relatives and good friends, in case they fully understand your situation and are prepared to offer more than just empathy.

Despite all the challenges, Mary somehow manages to make ends meet and face all the problems with a smile on her face. I admire her, just like I admire any other single mother who refuses to complain and tries to present to the world a relaxed and strong version of herself.

I also deeply admire all the supermoms whose children have been raised to become educated, hard-working and modest individuals, having overcome all the temptations and dangers lurking by in the 21st century’s urban environment, including the social networks which may offer plenty of opportunities for manipulation and abuse.

The day when I was the prettiest mom in the world

September 3, 2017
mom

It was a morning like many others. The alarm on my mobile phone sounded twice: when it was time for me to get up and when I already should’ve been half way through my morning routine. The second buzz did manage to wake me somehow. In theory, having slept all night, I sat on the edge of my bed and wondered about the potential meanings of my dream, in which I carried a motorcycle (!) with both its tires flat under my arm…

I started to get ready for work, racing against time, shouting the usual Have you peed already? Stop watching cartoons and get dressed! Unless you do, you’re going to the day care in your pjs. I’m not waiting for you a second longer… The mirror showed me an exhausted face, with large bags under my eyes and layers of makeup as a sorry attempt to present a fresh and ready-for-work version of myself. I’d gone to bed late again and again I was sleep deprived, frustrated, nervous. I felt the familiar pain in my lower back and remembered I have never really had any treatment for my lumbago. Is there a single mother who has time for seeing a doctor and receiving physical therapy?

I was in a dreadful mood.
I grabbed the first dress I saw in the wardrobe, made a miserable attempt to do something with my hair still full of rollers that I’d worn overnight. My apartment was now chronically untidy, the washing still lying hopeful in the ironing basket, the dirty dishes in the sink…

And then…

Life seen through the eyes of a six-year-old

Mom, I wish you never grew old. I would then always stay a child, your baby. And we would never die, neither you, nor me, nor grandma, nor dad…

She came close to me, took my hand and glanced at my chipped nail polish.
Mom, I love this enamel…

Then she touched my dress and moved away:
This dress is so pretty, and so soft… Will you let me wear it when I grow up?

She looked at my tired face:
That lipstick looks so good on you, and the blue shade on your eye lids is so nice…

She gave me a hug.
You are the prettiest and the softest mom in the world.

Life seen through the eyes of a six-year-old…

Pure magic.

The wrinkled clothes in the ironing basket didn’t bother her at all. She was simply happy because her favorite dress was clean again…

She didn’t see the lines on my face, the puffy eyes, the spider veins on my legs, the extra pounds on my body.

To her, I was the most beautiful and the best mom in the world.

Mom, when I grow up, do you know what I’ll be? I’ll be a mom, just like you!

That day, I finally put together a list of my achievements in the previous six years – what I’d managed to do, to accomplish.  

The overview of my first six years of motherhood

It was hard. It was stressful, challenging.

I spent nights without sleeping a wink, crying, trembling with fear.

I didn’t always do what I should have done.

I often didn’t have a clue what I should do, or how, or why. I just soldiered on, day after day.

Because I didn’t have a choice. From the first baby feeder, her first pair of shoes, the nursery, her first fever to this day.

Is that period finally over?
I don’t know.
But at least I can now say that I’m aware of what we’ve been through and the fog through which I felt my way intuitively has now lifted.  

Before I gave birth to my daughter, I’d come by and read many books about parenthood.
In them I found detailed instructions about what to do in case of gas discomfort, how to put a baby to sleep, what to do, and what not to do in many other events.
But I don’t remember reading that I would be exhausted and frustrated more or less all the time, that I would never be able to find the other sock in the washing basket, or that the back seat of my car would be covered with breadcrumbs and shredded paper tissues.

There’s another thing I couldn’t find in the books: that my child would love to eat a simple sausage with some yoghurt or pancakes with chocolate and hazelnut cream for dinner.
Or that she wouldn’t mind riding in a “sensible” stroller or wearing an ordinary inexpensive dress as long as she gets loads of love, care and warm hugs.

And popcorn.