Single mothers and those raising their children with a partner have much in common: I believe we are all equally dedicated to our children, regardless of our lifestyle or situations we face.
My daughter will soon be 6. She has never lived with her father; I raise her on my own. I make all important decisions concerning her. I do consult with my ex from time to time, but I’ve basically never had any illusions that he would ever be prepared to play a major role in her life. When I finally stopped deluding myself and all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, my wits and experience (or, in truth, inexperience) were all that I could rely on to decide what’s best for her. Which kindergarten, what kind of daily routine, which sporting activities are optimum – all that was ultimately up to me. To maintain a good relationship with my ex, I occasionally ask for his opinion. I don’t really have to though because the bottom line is that I am responsible for everything.
All mothers are familiar with the seemingly endless list of regular chores that are supposed to be fit into a 25-hour day. I used to think it was nothing, the kind of routine everybody had, and I couldn’t quite understand why all those women with children always complained about something so normal and easily achievable.
Normal? Well, yes.
Achievable? It has to be since there’s no way around it.
Super hectic? Yes.
Easy? No. But we simply don’t give up because – there’s no choice.
To cut the long story short, all mothers understand this as they have first-hand experience.
First, we wake up at dawn because that’s when most small children open their eyes and start demanding attention.
This is followed by tidying up, a visit to the kindergarten, going to work, buying groceries, along with the usual lines:
Have you been to the toilet and washed your hands?; Will you please finish your meal?; Go brush your teeth and don’t play with the toothbrush; No more cartoons!; Time for bed; Put your jammies on, you are old enough to do it without any help…
And then, some more cooking, ironing, cleaning, and so on and so forth.
Sometimes I manage to stay awake a little longer in the evening and then I walk around the house and try… well, I’m not sure what I try, but it sounds good.
Most of the time, however, I just doze off next to her (yes, we sleep in the same bed).
A (single, childless) friend recently criticized me for spending too much time with my kid, for being unaware of how quickly time passes… In short, she thought it was high time I started dealing with these things and spending more time doing something more interesting.
It crossed my mind that there could be some truth in it.
I never go anywhere, if we don’t count children’s birthday parties.
Theaters, movies, restaurants: I only remember those places, vaguely. I spend time with my friends when they find the time (between two boyfriends) and then we have some coffee at some “child-friendly” place while my daughter’s trying to charm the waiter to get more biscuits instead of only one they usually serve with the coffee.
So I thought: Why not? Why wouldn’t I make arrangements, get a baby-sitter, put some make-up on and check out the outside world by night?
But I didn’t
Because my (single, childless) friend also told me this:
“I don’t understand why you’re so committed to being a perfect mother. Don’t you realize that your daughter will forget you exist once she doesn’t need you anymore?”
I was speechless.
If I’d been able to at the time, this is what I would have said to her…
I would have told her that my child means a world to me and that every second we spend together is a billion times more meaningful than all that time she spends preparing for a wild night out.
I would have told her that my child is the most valuable person in my life.
I would have told her that I was so lucky to have this small person by my side, who can hug with no second thoughts, who can love so truly and openly, and who still prefers gummies to a new dress or a pair of shoes.
So I resumed my daily routine because this small person I’m raising has only one childhood and I don’t want to miss any of it, not even a single day.
I know time will come when she won’t need me as much as she does now. I know I will then be able to spend more time doing things for myself and fulfill only my own wishes and needs. Until then…
Hurry up! Put your shoes on! Go get your stuff, make sure nothing’s left behind. Why are you crying now? You’ve forgotten your doll? OK, we are going back to get it. Here’s a hanky, blow your nose. Don’t touch that! Haven’t I told you a hundred times never to touch the fruit at the supermarket? Why must I always repeat…