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children

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.

 

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.

Do our children suffer because they don’t live with both parents?

May 7, 2017
children

I’ve recently exchanged a few emails with one of many single mothers who, like me, often worries if her children are sad or may become sad one day for not growing up with their father. 

There are all kinds of single parents. I write about mothers because I am one. I have the greatest amount of respect for all the single dads out there, and there are surely many who deserve the highest praise, but I can’t put myself in their shoes and have no idea what it’s like for them, so I rarely ever mention them.  

My child has a father, she knows him, she loves him. I believe he loves her, too, in his peculiar self-centered way. That’s fine. I know many women who are raising children on their own, whose kids have never met their respective dads and they are very unlikely to ever meet them. Is it harder for them or for my child? I don’t know.

I spoke to psychiatrists, psychologists, child therapists, etc. They all agree that children cannot grieve for what they have never known. Children of divorce suffer because their parents have separated and one of them has moved out. Children who have never lived with both parents cannot miss the kind of life they haven’t experienced. I’ve been told to refrain from explaining or interpreting. Apparently, children simply accept whatever’s served on their plate if this is done with self-confidence.
In my case: mom and dad don’t live together because they’ve agreed that’s what’s best.

Period.

I’m not sure this approach is absolutely correct, but I try to accept it as such because that makes my life easier.

Another thing I truly believe: our kids absorb our emotions. They see and hear everything, even when we are unaware of it. They can’t be fooled easily. A happy mother = a happy child.

So, do your best to be happy.

I know it’s not easy. I know that it’s a struggle against yourself, against time.

Very often, it’s a struggle to come up with enough money.

In short, a struggle to survive.

I don’t know how it’s done, how I can become the world’s happiest mother over night. But I now understand how important it is.

A smile. Good mood. Jokes. Playing games. A daily dose of fun everyone needs.

That is how our children will grow up without frustrations and complexes, and they’ll always remember that with us, their mothers, they had the most beautiful childhood imaginable.

 

 

A child never cries for no reason

September 5, 2016
child

How sensitive or, in trendier terms, emotional children are and how they express their emotions I am only now slowly beginning to discover with my own kid.

Small children, as we all know, cry when they’re in distress. Kids burst into tears easily. My daughter can switch from laughter to tears in a matter of seconds. And the cause for the tears? Well, sometimes it’s concrete, and sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on it.

My knowledge of all this is quite limited. I remember little about my own childhood and most of my friends’ children are grown. At the time they were little, I wasn’t particularly interested in their psychological development.

So, here I am now, in a whole new dimension. Why does my daughter occasionally cry for no apparent reason?

Because she’s tired. Yes, the fatigue seems to be the cause of abrupt mood changes, tears and unreasonable requests (I’m hungry, I want five sausages…).

Because she’s afraid. In small children, fear is sometimes irrational. She got scared because the hall was dark, and I was in the bathroom while some aggressive images were shown in a cartoon on TV (Mom, something terrible happened to the small pony…)

Because small children need to feel over and over that you are with them, that you’re listening carefully when they have something to say to you. Because the child is still small, even when you think that he or she has grown so much.

My daughter’s been going to the same kindergarten for years. Her teachers are pleasant young women and her friends are nice kids she’s been playing with ever since she was crawling with a soother in her mouth.

Not long ago, her favorite teacher came back from vacation. She told me that my daughter was at first reserved and kept her at bay, unlike the other children who were obviously delighted to see her again. Then she started crying. The experienced teacher easily detected what I’m yet to learn to recognize: a subtle emotion conveyed not through cheerfulness or laughter, but through excitement and tears.

Our children will be small even when we’re convinced they’ve grown. And then, like now, they will need our undivided attention and support. Try to understand every tear they shed and treat them with care. Put away your mobile phone or the remote control, stop whatever it is you’re doing when it happens. Open your arms and offer them consolation and understanding.  

Why does my child sleep in my bed?

June 9, 2016
sleep

Here’s something I’m a bit concerned about, although many people say that I shouldn’t worry too much or rush towards the inevitable: the day when our kids start preferring the solitude of their rooms to our company and banning us from their private little worlds.

Our flat is quite spacious and my beloved daughter has her own beautifully and expensively decorated room, where she can find whatever her young heart desires. I spared no money or effort to equip it even before she was born. I bought all the toys I liked and she received many gifts. The common wisdom that the baby should be separated from the mother during the night as soon as possible, so that both of us can have a good night’s sleep and she can get used to being on our own from early days, didn’t really agree with me. I couldn’t imagine getting up several times during the night and walking to another part of the flat to feed or change her. In the beginning, she slept in her cradle right next to my bed – until her first fever. That was three years ago. Since then, she’s slept in my bed and she wouldn’t hear any arguments against it. Her lovely room filled with books and toys is now merely a playroom. She spends a lot of time there, loves to spread the toys around and graciously allows me to pick them up and put them back in their place.
Am I wrong? Probably. The children of many of my friends have never slept in the same room as their parents. My friends say that those little walks by night are not a problem. I find it hard to believe, because I used to catch a cold only by getting up to cover my daughter who slept next to my bed. More spontaneous and less formal of my friends rightly insist on developing closeness and intimacy, and keep telling themselves that sharing the bed will stop as soon as the first pyjama party is thrown for the kids from the kindergarten or school.

So I decided to team with this second school of thought. Because it’s easier, and I’d feel sad if I stopped hearing her little voice in the night whispering softly: “Mum, put the blanket back on me”.

In other words, it’s status quo now, until she grows up and leaves my bed, and then my room, to move into her own realm. Hopefully, by that time she’ll learn to clean after herself too…

This time I really made it

March 3, 2016
time

…you know the feeling when you’re slowly beginning to realise that this time you may have made it…when the result of the pregnancy test you’d bought at the pharmacy is positive and nobody believes you anymore, but you are certain that it’s for real this time. And everything started unfolding in slow motion. As if it was happening to somebody else and I was just observing in silence. New life was shaping slowly but steadily. This time I believed, I was happy, but I tried not to say any of that out loud, just in case evil spirits were listening. My ex-partner (he became an ex in the meantime because he’d finally found the love of his life in the shape of a woman 17 years his junior, who worked for him at the time) couldn’t believe it either. My joy was subdued by the mixed feelings of disbelief and anxiety.  Because his former employee, now promoted to a girlfriend, was also pregnant.  And there. Our lives suddenly became very complicated. I knew about his other child. His girlfriend, though, knew nothing about mine, but she would find out, half a year later.

I didn’t quite understand at first that I would be on my own. For a while, I was hoping for a miraculous twist of fate that would somehow fix everything, but I couldn’t say what kind of miracle I was expecting. Girls are usually told tales about princes and weddings, and there is always a happy ending. This is the 21st century, but we are still far from being fully emancipated. No woman would chose to have a family of only two. Nor do we take the separations lightly. I grew up believing in the traditional family and although it took me so long to start my own, I still believed that my path wouldn’t be very thorny, despite the fact that everything was hinting at a different outcome.

And different it was.

I was pregnant with my first child. My pregnancy went impeccably well. While my friends referred to their pregnancy as “agony” and were eager for it to end, I was preparing to continue my life under new circumstances.

Pregnant at a Later Age

February 19, 2016
pregnant

This is a question asked by many women who didn’t manage or didn’t want to get pregnant or have children in their youth for any reason at all. Naturally, it is much easier to conceive when you’re young. I, for one, wasn’t very interested in having kids in my 20s. I wanted to live to the fullest and thought I had plenty of time to have children once the rest of the puzzles in my life fall into place. Meanwhile, my friends were starting their families and I bought presents for baby showers without even contemplating the possibility of following suit. Until one day…

An unplanned pregnancy stirred my dormant motherly instinct. But that child was not meant to be born, the future father got cold feet and just wasn’t ready. I, on the other hand, didn’t want to burden him and impose a family on him when he was unwilling, it just wasn’t right. We agreed to wait for a while longer, which turned into several years. We were both in our prime (late 30s) and had absolutely no notion of what lay ahead and what the future had on a plate for us…

A few years and many attempts later, I simply couldn’t get pregnant spontaneously and so we started our tortuous journey through the maze of in vitro fertilisation. Neither of us knew the first thing about the IVF.
Now, I could write a book about it. Instead, since I am deeply convinced that everybody is entitled to their own decisions and path in life, and I also know that people are very different, which is great, I’ve decided to share some of my thoughts and experiences on this blog.

If natural, pregnancy is just a serendipitous event. Whereas when you go through the IVF, the positive outcome ultimately depends on two factors: your doctor’s skill and experience, and your body, its shape and capacity. And, finally, luck always has a prominent role to play.