Browsing Tag

father

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.

 

Some situations only single mothers can fully understand

June 23, 2017
situations

It was a beautiful Saturday at the beginning of June. The day was sunny, warm, but not hot. Everybody was in a great mood, and we had reason to be. The pre-school end-of-year play was about to begin, all our kids were on the stage, happy and excited because they were about to perform for their moms, dads and relatives, having rehearsed their lines for months. Their proud parents were waving, taking pictures and clapping as the sweetest creatures in the world showed up on stage before their loving audience: little ballerinas wearing tutus and hair bows; the angry, glaring pirates; Snow White and the seven dwarfs in a contemporary version of the tale…

All the people who mattered to the performers were in the audience: their teachers, parents, friends, relatives.

After the play, the ecstatic kids ran into the arms of their delighted parents. All dads were there except one. My daughter’s father had better things to do. My daughter came running to me and asked me how come her dad wasn’t there to watch her perform. I had no idea how to respond and make it sound ok. I couldn’t tell her that her dad’s interest in anything, including her, lasts only for as long as the object of his interest is standing right in front of him. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that to her dad, what comes first is himself, and then… himself, and then… well, again himself. In fact when I asked him to attend the play, he said I was bullying him and trying to make him feel guilty because he had other joys in life.

This introduction, however, is not the central theme of this post. Things are as they are, our lives are as they are and they are unlikely to change. I don’t want to spread gloom and write sad stories. I know some people live harder than us and I’ve learnt to be content with the fact that both my daughter and I are alive and well and cope as we know best.

A couple of days ago I told a friend about what happened at the play. It was the way she reacted that made me realize how hard it must be for the people who live in traditional families to understand what us single mothers and our children go through.

She told me that her husband, with whom she has two children, also occasionally indulges in the activities that do not include his family.

This grossly inadequate comparison left me speechless. This is what I wanted to tell her:

It’s not the same:

It’s not the same at all when the child has a father who always comes home.

It’s not the same when a child asks: “When will I see my dad” (and gets the answer: “When he calls; you know how busy he is”) and when that question is never asked at all that because dad lives in the same house and is around every day.

The fact is that there are no ideal fathers (my sincere apologies to those who are; in my defence, I don’t personally know any, so…). It’s also a fact that children who spend time with their dads only from time to time usually suffer. Those who live with their dads (even if dads are not ideal) normally don’t suffer as much even if their dads are not one hundred percent there for them all the time.

Do you really think that my child and your child are in the same position?

I remembered another friend who often complained about her husband: all he does in the evenings is look at his mobile phone, and he only lifts his head when she tells him that dinner is ready. I do understand her plight. Her kids, however, are probably not bothered by his behaviour and they never ask her what my daughter asks me: “Why does dad never come to our house in the evenings to play with me?”

Again, I’m not complaining. I just wish to pinpoint that it makes no sense to compare what it’s like for the kids in traditional families and those who grow up with single moms.

 

Every child has a father, right?

May 26, 2017
mothers

A few days ago, I spent a couple of hours in the waiting room of one of our admirable institutions to apply for the renewal of an identity document. I’d taken all the necessary measures to survive waiting in the line: first of all, I’d made sure to charge my mobile phone to avoid small talk with complete strangers. But even if you don’t participate in the unbelievably stupid conversations, you certainly have to overhear at least some parts here and there. Thankfully, my blood pressure is normally quite low, so I survived the surge when I heard what I couldn’t help overhearing.

In essence, the conversation between two males went more or less as follows:

The other day, while I was waiting in a line just like today, a woman came in with a small child and demanded to skip the line on account of the child.
No way!? Why didn’t she leave the child with the father?
I actually asked her the same thing. She said the kid had no father. Yeah right! Every child has a father!

I managed to keep my mouth shut. I was on the verge of telling them off, but I bit my tongue. The experience taught me it’s usually a good thing to do. But if I had decided to give them piece of my mind:

I would have told them that some women, either by choice or by chance, give birth to their children without the knowledge of their partners. Sometimes it’s just the way it has to be.

I would have told them that some children are simply abandoned by their fathers even before they are born. The so-called fathers usually keep the reasons for this to themselves.

I would have told them that many children indeed have fathers, but they couldn’t care less about their kids or about the mothers who bring them up on their own. And these women are often forced to do everything else almost without anyone’s help.

I would have told them that many children live with their mothers and see their fathers only when the fathers see it fit rather than when the children need it. These men usually provide no support nor do they take part in the children’s education and upbringing.

So, every child has a father, right?
A biological one, sure.
But the fact that these men provided only a genetic material for the creation of these wonderful beings, does not always mean they’re qualified to take proper care of them.

And then daddy started a new family

March 7, 2017
family

This is something that has been bothering me, actually, something I have been obsessing about for over five years, since my daughter’s birth. Her father and I got separated before she was born so she has never lived with both parents. Whether it’s good or bad, time will tell. They say it’s bad for children to witness their parents’ arguing and bickering.  The divorce is also regarded as a traumatic experience for kids, so the children who simply don’t know what it’s like to be separated from their father, like my daughter, seem to be happier. Living with a single parent is a fait accompli. For them, it is normal because it is all they know. All single parents can do is to accept their fate and do their best to make sure their child is surrounded with love and attention that would somehow make up for what’s missing.

All this sounds great in theory, but in real life it isn’t simple at all. All single parents, who can only rely on their own resources, like me, know this all too well.

There is another delicate issue faced by divorced parents and those who have never raised their child with another person: physical custody and parenting time.

In my case, the issue of custody has never been debated. It is only natural to award the sole custody to mother except in cases when they are found to be unfit for the role. This is exactly what I wanted. Shared custody is a utopia I wouldn’t hear about.

Everybody knows that the parent who doesn’t live with the child is allowed parenting time in line with legislation and judicial ruling. The patterns, at first sight, seem reasonable. For example, the father has the right to spend time with the child alone one or two afternoons per week and every other weekend. When the child reaches certain age, the father is allowed to spend a part of the winter and summer holidays with the kid, etc.

My situation was different since I made a lot of effort to maintain a good relationship with my ex-partner. We spent a lot of time together and tried to make sure that our child lives a happy and fulfilled life.
However, when the ex-partner starts a new family, which happened in our case, the idyllic vacations spent together become history. The child is forced to see the father together with his new family and the single mother simply has to grin and bear it.

Is it easy? Not at all. Some people claim that it is good for children to spend time with their half-brothers and sisters, and to accept the parents’ new families as their own. There could be truth in it. Sadly, I still find this difficult to accept. I keep waiting for the moment when my daughter will start asking me questions to which I have no answers.

I’ve often heard that “even the kids who live with both parents don’t see their father much because he works all day”. I disagree. Children who live with both parents are well aware of this. My child has never lived with her father and it breaks my heart when she squeals: “Mummy, can I go see daddy today after the kindergarten?” Sometimes she can, and more often than not she can’t. Her dad has another family and his own obligations.

Do children need both parents? It seems so. Can a single mother make up to her child for all that the child had been deprived of under the circumstances? Time will tell.

For the first time…

July 2, 2016
first time

When you raise your child on your own, and your child has a father, the father and the child normally spend some time together on a regular basis. Be it the outcome of the court decision or of your mutual agreement, the psychologists claim that this is actually crucial to the child’s development. A good relationship between the parents is also very important. Sadly though, our children are very often witnesses to arguments and bad vibes. Personally, I’d raise a monument to the mothers who have managed to overcome the disagreements and maintain a calm and dignified appearance when they met their exes. If they meet at all, that is.

My case is rather extreme. I’ve been through a lot and decided to behave almost exclusively in the way that best fit my interests at the moment. Please try not to throw any stones at me just yet. The three of us have spent several summer and winter holidays together, to my daughter’s great delight.

But… there’s a first time for everything. When you find a new job, you can kiss your holiday goodbye for at least some time. To make things even more interesting, my new employer had the idea to send me abroad for the training. And so, my dream job’s slowly turning into a nightmare.

This is the first time after four and a half years that I’m away from my daughter. She’s gone to the seaside with her father, without me.

How do you prepare yourself and your child for the separation? If you know, please share some of your wisdom with me. For days I tried to introduce the subject somehow, saying awkward things like “mummy has to work to earn money for toys”. Obviously, there was no way I could keep beating about the bush for long so at some point I plucked up the courage and started to explain only to find out that the proud father had already made the announcement. Was it the right thing to do? Hardly. Did I have a choice? I don’t think so.

I packed her bags and made detailed lists and instructions no one would read. I took the two of them to the airport and waved until I lost sight of them.

For the first time after four and a half years I sleep alone in my bed. For the first time I have no clue what to do and this freedom I so longed for is not as sweet as when I imagined what I’d do if only I found the time…