Browsing Tag

childhood

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.

What I’ve learnt from FB

August 21, 2017
FB

Social networks are amazing: fun and useful at the same time. The other day, I got a feed of my posts from 5 years ago on Facebook, including a photo of my daughter and me on our first trip. She was ten months old and had already embarked on a 10-day trip adventure with my friend and me. I looked at the photo in wonder, having trouble to recognise myself, let alone my daughter.
Peanut, as I called her then, grew from an impish toddler into a fine little girl. Where have all those years gone? And how? What was I doing? How did I spend those first five years of her life?

While we raise our kids, we make big plans for them and usually wish they could learn foreign languages, have a good education, get a good job and start their own families.

Buried under a pile of endless chores, as we try to make sense of this hectic life and resolve problems and dilemmas, we tend to forget that every day that goes by is gone forever and will never return.

We forget to soak up every moment of their childhood, each more significant and memorable than the other.

We always worry, comparing ourselves to other parents and our kids to their kids.
And then one day FB reminds me of a photo made five years ago. I felt like I was looking at another person.

A proud, but obviously clueless mother and a sweet little child.

Could I have imagined then what our lives would be like, how many silly things I’d do, how much time I’d lose, how many mistakes I’d make? Perhaps.

So, because of the FB’s On This Day feature and before I receive any of the future reminders which will bring back all my errors and make me aware of the time wasted on unimportant stuff, I want to try to be smart and happy for a change:

Because:

1. Nobody’s perfect. What matters is to do our best in each moment. We are all different, and so are our kids and our paths. The rule is – there are no rules.

2. If something really bothers me, I’ll try to change it. Changes are the only way to improve my life, and if I feel better, so will my child.  

3. I won’t pay too much attention to what other people say or think. My life is my business. It is I and not them who set the rules.

4. I am a good mother. I’m not a good cook, but it doesn’t matter. My child prefers eating spagetti without any sauce and – she loves hominy.

5. Kids are prone to doing silly things. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent. It simply means that kids are only kids.

6. Panic and nervousness are bad companions. The sooner you get rid of them, the better in the long run.

7. I often think that parenthood is extremely hard and stressful. And it is.

8. Sometimes we just have to be good to ourselves. A sink full of dirty dishes, piles of unironed clothes, untidy rooms? So what? Us mothers also need a break from time to time.

9. Children enjoy what we think is ordinary, unimportant stuff, such as going to the movies, buying popcorn, hugging.

10. Anything is possible if you really set your mind on it. In life, one should expect the unexpected.  

And always keep in mind that in life, like in travels, what matters most isn’t the final destination, but the journey itself.  

Raising a child is bliss, not a burden

July 22, 2017
child

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).

Time flies

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…

 

Ah, l’amour, l’amour…

July 11, 2017
amour

My daughter loves to sing. In the car, as we listen to the radio, she often joins in and sings her favourite songs at the top of her voice. Adele’s Hello is one of those (“Mom, when I grow up, I’ll learn to sing exactly like Adele“). Whenever she hears Adele’s voice, everybody must keep quiet as she starts singing her own version. And then she asks me: “Mom, what is she singing about, in fact”?

Well, I was at a loss the first time, I didn’t know how to respond. Most of those beautiful power ballads are about love. How can a five-year-old understand what life, passion, disappointments are all about? What does a pre-schooler know about love and should kids her age even be told about it?

Parents’ approaches vary. Some tell their children everything and would take any opportunity to explain life some more. A friend of mine takes pride in not having concealed anything from her son (who is now in primary school). When she’s happy, she laughs and bounces with joy. When she’s sad, she cries and lets it all out even if he’s around. I don’t think there’s a single correct approach; we are all different and our children are different, too.
When people say “all in good time”, they rarely ever really know when that time would come.

But, love, ah, love! It’s hard to believe how early in life kids start talking about it!

My daughter has never been in love (which is ok by me). So far, she has only told me about what’s been going on at the kindergarten (“Mom, can you believe it? Johnny fell in love with Nadia, but now he loves Nelly because Nadia prefers to play with Mina“). When she sees people kissing on the lips, she always says “yuck” and turns away.

So, we are still in the safe zone, and I hope this period will last.

As it is, it seems that boys find it easier to give their hearts away than girls: my daughter has already had two “suitors” and one of them even gave her flowers and presents! She just gaped at him in utter confusion, like she was wondering what she had done to deserve a red rose or a Barby doll a day before her birthday.
Meanwhile, the boys’ moms smiled and sized me up, like they were trying to assess if they should already start investing in the little princes’ love life.

Naturally, all those childhood crushes fade away quickly and my daughter was soon promoted into a good friend. I only wondered if any of them would remember those first flutters of the heart later in life.

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.

Princes and princesses

March 17, 2016
princesses

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time studying my four-and-a-half-year daughter and analysing what she says. She still can’t stop talking about princes and princesses who get married, which “means that they go to a ball afterwards”. A kiss on the mouth is “yuck“ and the people who matter most in life are “mum, dad, granny and auntie“. That is fine, it’s healthy to think that way. My only concern is how she’ll cope with the fact that while she does matter to her dad, she is not the most important person in his life. And I wonder how she’ll accept that we all have our princes and princesses, but they are not always the same and, more often than not, they are not there forever.

One thing is for sure, though: my daughter will always be my princess. And she sometimes jokes about me being “the queen mother“.

When you’re raising your kid alone, no matter how it’s come to that, good organisation is everything. If you’re lucky enough to have many relatives and friends, so much the better. Unfortunately, my family isn’t very large and most of my friends have grown children. So, be smart. When I was picking the kindergarten, my motto was: the best kindergarten is the nearest one. I know many parents who drive their children to the other side of the city just because the kindergarten was recommended to them and in hopes that an elite kindergarten would prepare their children for great things in life. Let’s not debate about if this approach is right or wrong. My reasons for my choice of the kindergarten were as follows: firstly, driving my daughter there and back doesn’t take very long; secondly, I wanted my child to play with the children from our neighbourhood, and I wanted to socialize with their parents. I thought the local kindergarten would be the right place to meet those kids and their parents. OK, so it turned out that I wasn’t a hundred percent right. Some kids were actually taken there from the other side of the city for the reasons known only to their parents. Still, after almost four years of experience, I think I’d made the right choice. My little girl has made childhood friends who may also be a part of her life later. The small group of princes and princesses has been together for almost four years and I believe that these stable surroundings make the proper environment for a stable and happy childhood.