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October 2017

Fathers have a heart too

October 27, 2017
fathers

A few days ago, I took my daughter to a birthday party of a boy who was going to the same daycare center for a while when they were both four.

God works in strange ways. I became friends with his mom when we learnt that her son had a crush on my daughter. They later moved to another place, and changed the daycare center. She and I kept in touch, as we were brought together by children’s love and the fact that we both bring up our children on our own.

From one birthday to the next, we exchanged experiences and watched our children grow.

Just like me, my friend Supermom had separated from the boy’s father before he was born. Maybe she did it out of pride, maybe she had no choice, or maybe love simply vanished.

Anyhow, the boy hadn’t seen his dad much until recently.

I never commented her decisions. I don’t judge other people and I expect them not to judge me. Everybody knows what’s best for them.

I was delighted when she told me that the father and the son had finally established contact. It won’t be easy to make up for all the years gone by. It will take time to build the relationship based on trust and intimacy. That might never even happen. My opinion is that children should meet and see the parents they don’t share their house with, provided of course that at least the basic conditions for this are in place.

My daughter sees her father regularly, and that has always been the case. Not because I’ve managed to discover all secrets of parenthood or because I’m this noble person who places her child’s interest before conflicts and ugly situations that have come up from time to time. The reason is that her father has been persistent enough despite the fact that I condemn his way of life.

Our characters, habits and principles are completely opposite. We have confronted each other about many issues countless times. I disapprove of many aspects of his life, and that is unlikely ever to change.

However, he once said something that left a strong impression on me. We quarreled about where our daughter’s scooter would be stored in the future (oh yeah, a scooter can also be a good reason for an argument). When I told him that she didn’t live with him (and therefore the scooter should be kept at my place), he replied:

In my mind, all my children live with me.

What he said really made me stop and think.

Fathers have a heart, too

They are often selfish, like men are due to a lack of responsibility. They lie and cheat. They rarely manage to understand the children’s interests and daily needs the way we do. But in that fragment of a second, this admission that came directly from his soul really got to me. I realized that his lack of commitment and responsibility, which I always tried to neutralize by lavishing care and attention upon her, didn’t necessarily mean the lack of love.

Fathers can love, too

Is that the consequence of the established tradition and norms? Do mothers simply carry a gene that makes us act the way we do?

I don’t know, and I don’t care anymore.

My daughter is six. I’m not sure time really heals everything, but the years I’ve spent raising her alone have helped me learn plenty.

Nothing is just black or white,

To forgive is divine, as some say, but I’d also add – it is often the only thing we can do if we wish to be in peace.

Answers sometimes literally fall from the sky. All we have to do is remember to look up.

I wanted to tell the friend I mentioned at the beginning all about it, but I haven’t had the chance. One of the reasons why I’m writing this post is so that she can read and understand it.

 

One day, I’ll tell my daughter about my past

October 20, 2017
past

As my daughter’s growing up, life is becoming more and more interesting. It is said that a small child equals small problems, whereas an older child…
But that’s not all. An older child demands more logical answers to increasingly difficult questions.

Our most interesting conversations usually take place early in the mornings, when she opens her eyes, and in the evenings, when we hug each other before we go to sleep. The other night, just after I turned off the lights and tucked her in her bed (she has moved out of my bed), an unexpected question came from the darkness:

Mom, have you ever got married?

It took me by surprise, and the time wasn’t exactly opportune. I’ve never been married to her dad. Maybe her playmates from the daycare center had talked about the marriage or she was just comparing herself to other kids. Who knows?
But, she sounded worried, so I replied: “No, I only wanted to have this child. That was mattered most to me. A sigh of relief. “Mom, I’ll do the same when I grow up!”

I don’t think this has closed the subject though. Me, her father, marriage and family will be discussed many times before she becomes an adult.

And not just that.

I wondered if we should tell our kids about our past, ex-boyfriends, former husbands?

 ******

Tidying up the closets is among the most regular and preferred female activities. After a month of serious mental preparations, I recently decided to give it a go. I applied the only efficient method I knew of: I just took out the entire content of the drawers and closets, piled it up on the floor and started rummaging through it. At some point, I came across a long forgotten shoe box which stored some old photos and letters. I opened Pandora’s box filled with long suppressed memories.

******

My past is by no means a thriller, but the pages of my book of life turned slowly. One day, long ago, the present collapsed and turned into the past.

After a period of reconnecting with myself, new currents drew me away to the open sea. The past remained captured in the shoe box, offering as evidence some two-decade old photos and twenty letters or so.

******

I sat on the bedroom floor and took a long look into my past. There were photos to illustrate it, with me in them, and some people who were close to me at the time. The woman in the photos looked like me, but she was still different. She travelled. Her hair was short and blond, then a bit longer, and finally a bit darker. She looked nice, smiling, in a white silken dress, spotted with many colorful butterflies. She was getting married…

******

The past had been held captive in the photos, in the box, in the closet until I finally plucked up the courage and opened it.

I asked a friend if I should tell my daughter about my life before her some day. Would it be wise to show her, maybe not the letters, but at least the photos of her mum and that man she couldn’t possibly recognize, the man who meant so much to me in my past life?

“Keep it all”, she told me. “You’ll show it to her some day. It’s incredible how a look from the future heals everything because it is the only right way to look at it. The whole life trembles inside of us and it never gets to be told. Only our daughters will be able to make sense of it all and shed some light“.

I will take her advice. The box has kept its place on one of the lowest shelves in the closet, tucked in between the old sweaters I avoid discarding and keep storing “just in case”.

The past was beautiful while it was the present. It’s a part of me, of the way I once was, the way I’ll most likely always be. One day I’ll show it to her and we’ll look at it with her eyes. We will look at the old photos, at the good-looking, smiling bride in the colorful silken dress and at the man in dark suit. Together, we will find new words to recount my past.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like for moms whose children have half-siblings?

October 13, 2017
half-siblings

My daughter has a half-sister and a half-brother. Writing about it isn’t easy for me. In all likelihood, I’ll be misinterpreted or misunderstood. Yet, I’m writing this post because this subject is very important to me, although painful.

Some time ago, I talked to a friend whose ex-husband had married his neighbor and had a child with her. She was fine with it. The neighbor was never hers and his life is his business. But, their daughter still hasn’t agreed to meet her half-brother.

Another friend has a half-brother whom she has never met because their father’s ex-wife didn’t allow it.

It took yet another friend two years to accept the fact that her daughters now have a half-sister.

There are many such stories. Thankfully, there are just as many examples of the children who get on perfectly well with their half-siblings.

They say that the children should meet their siblings, spend time with them and learn to love them. They may depend on each other in life, regardless of their parents’ fates and relationships.

Psychologists and social workers insist that children should establish and maintain close relationships with their half-siblings.

That is all fine and doubtlessly true. But maybe it would be a good idea to reflect on the following for once:

What is it like for moms whose kids have half-siblings?

This is what it’s like for me.

Hard.

Like I said, my daughter has a half-sister and a half-brother. They are good, loving and happy children. All three get on well and love to spend time with each other. And that is all right.

But, whenever I see them, I can’t help thinking how my child lives with only one parent and how many times she wanted to be with her dad and I couldn’t make it happen. I often think about what she’s missing in life and about the cheap, unbearable wisdom I’ve heard so many times: “That’s the hand of cards she’s been dealt in life”.

I also sometimes remember an American sitcom in which the last in the line of wives accepts and helps her husband’s children from his two former marriages. Furthermore, neither of her husband’s ex-wives has any problem spending time at her home and all works well for the merry bunch.

I wish my life was more like that sitcom. But it isn’t. Maybe, at some time in the future, we will all sit around the same table and chat cheerfully while we drink coffee and nibble on our biscuits. And I will be sincerely happy because my daughter is not the only child and she’ll be able to rely on her siblings later in life.
Until then, although these “other” children certainly had nothing to do with their parents’ bad relationships, and more than deserve to be treated with kindness and warmth, every thought about them fills me with sadness.

Maybe this confession reveals what a dreadful person I am. My experiences have taught me to not to hide my emotions and to always describe situations as I see them. If things seem ideal, they’re probably fake. Our lives are not perfect, our daily routines are stressful and our feelings are prone to changes. In a single day, my mood may vary from incredible joy to unspeakable sorrow, and I never know what challenges the next day will bring. I’d love to be able to feel differently, to open my arms and embrace those little people, those innocent kids who have become a part of our lives. So, if anyone could explain to me how it can be done, how I could free myself from bondage and start looking at things from another angle, I would deeply appreciate the advice.

She’ll soon let go of my hand

October 6, 2017
hand

This is more than a photo. A mother and a child, hand in hand, a symbol of love, of parenthood.
It’s an everyday occurrence, a part of our routine. But I know it will soon end.
A little longer, and it will all be over.

Hand in hand means so much more.
Love.
A reminder that time passes, inevitably and quickly.

A shiver went down my spine when I realized that I had no idea for how much longer my daughter would want to hold my hand.

And only a few years ago…

I wasn’t one of those mothers who make their children start to walk as soon as possible, who hold their little hands and encourage them: Come on, you can do it, there you goooo…. I let her crawl for as long as she wanted. I’m surprised her knees didn’t leave a permanent imprint on the nursery floor.

I just let her do thing at her own pace. After all, nobody crawls forever.

One day, she just stood up. She made a few unsteady steps in my direction before she fell in my arms. She started walking at 13 months of age. I wrote down the exact date in a colored notebook I will keep with me forever.

Since then, the two of us have always walked together, hand in hand.

I admit I hate to let go of that little hand.

What if she falls? What if she gets hurt? What if she runs into the street?

The symbol of parenthood, of growing up, of love.

My daughter has recently invented a new game.

The idea came out of the blue. “Mom, let’s pretend we don’t know each other. Like, I’m a grown-up, taking a walk on my own.”

My baby is growing. She is still a small, insecure child, she gets scared sometimes, but she’s also increasingly curious about what it’s like to be a little more independent. Even walking a few meters away from her mom counts as an adventure.

So we walked, side by side at first, and then she suddenly moved away and pretended to be a big girl who walked alone. She wanted to feel what it was like when she no longer needed her mom’s hand. A few minutes later, the game ended abruptly when a car or something else passed and the big girl got frightened, grabbed my hand and said: “Mom, let’s know each other again…”

I admit I was eager to squeeze those tiny fingers that had found their way back to me. I was happy.

And I already know that the whole point of our most important task – the parenthood – is to eventually let them:

fall because they have to learn to get up,
fly using their own wings,
taste and grasp life on their own.

I know that the day will come, maybe soon, when we will stop hugging before we say goodbye. And I know that the day will come when her small hand will stop looking for mine and the game will become reality.

 

I’m just not ready for it yet.