Browsing Tag

love

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.

 

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.

The day my world collapsed

May 8, 2017
world

All single parents know how difficult it is to bring up a child alone. It’s even physically demanding.

In the mornings, you have to prepare everything for you and your kid(s).

You’re late for work because you have to drop off your children at the daycare or at school. Or at least see them get on the school bus.

When you finish work, you have to run to pick them up.

In between, you have to buy groceries and do a number of other things.

Weekends aren’t any less busy.

And you do everything on your own.

It’s also financially strenuous; there’s never enough money.

Emotionally, you’re often close to the edge. You try to avoid thinking about the past and focus on your children and their needs.

Children should grow without frustrations, happy as they can be. They should maintain close contact with the other parent (if there is one to speak of). They should never witness your arguments and conflicts…

I am a happy woman because I managed to have a child when no one had expected it anymore, me least of all. I am happy because my daughter is healthy and smart. I am happy because she has a father who loves her and whom she loves back. Her father has another family and more children of his own. They are all little, they have no clue. That’s all very good and I could go on counting my blessings. But…

A few months ago I had to go on a business trip. There was no other option but to leave my daughter at my husband’s for the long ten days. To make things worse, she got chickenpox two days before I left. I spent the ten days with one hand glued to my cell phone.

We survived. In fact, I did; she had a great time. She was in the house full of kids, she had loads of fun. No rules, no restrictions.

It’s probably how it normally works. Mothers impose rules. I like order. My daughter eats and goes to bed at more or less the same time, and she knows why she’s forbidden certain things. When it comes to her father, it’s always fun being around him. She never has to do anything and is allowed whatever she wants.

So, she had a great time with him. She missed me, of course. She called me each morning and each evening. We talked on Skype, we waved at each other, sent kisses to each other.

The other day, she asked me timidly when I would go away on business again so that she could spend a few days at her dad’s.

I fell apart. The world around me collapsed.

My daughter is a healthy, cheerful, smart little girl. She loves both parents. And that is good.

But, I was so hurt by her question. So much so that I couldn’t hold my tongue and I offered to go away forever if she enjoyed spending time at her father’s so much.

My reaction was wrong, tactless, inappropriate.

We both burst into tears.

I felt betrayed.

Instead of feeling happy because my daughter loves being with her dad and her step-siblings, I was afraid that she would want to leave me one day.

I’m not sure that will ever happen.

Being a single parent is not easy, we all know that. Our days are often collages of duties and chores. We are often nervous and tired. We don’t spend enough time with our children, although all we do, we do to make their lives better.  

It’s easy to be interesting and amusing for a couple of hours or several days. That is often so. The fathers who do not have full custody (and who rarely have a major role in bringing up their children from other relationships) will do their best to make sure their children have so much fun for the time they spend together. After that, the children go back to their usual routine, until the next time.

Life is not only about fun; that is something us single mothers know so well. We are simply persistent in giving our children the love and attention they need, and hope for the best. For the children and for ourselves.

Moments that heal

April 19, 2017
moments

Lately, my daughter has taken to playing the following game:

« I love you, mom. »
I should then respond «I love you more»
She would then say, « And I love you even more! »
I am expected to feign surprise and burst into laughter because she’s managed to trick me in the same way for the nth time.

(These are actually her favorite lines from Disney’s Rapunzel, exchanged by the protagonist and her “mother” Gothel.)

These are the moments that help me survive the stress, disappointments, exhaustion, sadness.

These are moments that heal.

When the clapping of her small hands wakes me up in the morning, accompanied by her voice repeating “I want water, I want water”,

When I lie on the bed, exhausted, and I suddenly feel her tiny fingers on my back – “Do you like the massage, mum? Is it better now?”

When my daughter suddenly starts limping and complaining about bellyache because she’s hurt like me,

When every time before we go to sleep she asks me to lie next to her for a while and hug her,

When she tells me the same joke over and over (actually, the only joke she knows) – “How do you say taxi in Greek? Well, taxi!”

How she bounces with joy when I bring her pop-corns to eat while she watches her favorite cartoon,

When we both wear dresses: “Mom, we look the same!”

When she tells me that she’ll be a mom, just like me, when she grows up,

When she asks me if she can be only my baby forever,

When she starts telling me about her dream at 6 am (while I’m still sleeping),

When she runs into the kitchen, opens the fridge door and tells me that she’s starving at 7 am,

When she gives me a hug out of the blue and rubs her head against my shoulder,

When she asks me to turn up the radio in the car and tries to sing Hello along with Adele,

When she calls my bed our bed.

These moments help me soldier on when it’s hard, when I’m nervous and tired of everything. The moments that truly heal.

I’ll think about that tomorrow

March 29, 2017
love

Another busy day has gone by, an exhausting race against time, filled with small joys and frustrations. While I’m watching my daughter sleep, I’m wandering where to start, what to do first. I decide to open a drawer full of memories…

Mother’s day is celebrated in many countries on different dates and in different ways. But, there is one thing they all have in common, and that is the love expressed to mothers by their children. Those precious small gifts, made by tiny fingers with utmost care and in the greatest secrecy, are among the most wonderful joys of motherhood. For several years now, my daughter has been clumsily designing and constructing these trinkets in the kindergarten workshop, the presents I always receive happily and store in a safe place so that I can show them to her one day. I’ve already filled one drawer with memories: birthday cards, drawings and all kinds of figurines and other objects made by my child. Whenever I feel sad, displeased or simply tired, I open the drawer and remind myself of how much I love her and that nothing else in life matters as much. Like so many times before, I analyze the things I’ve done, what I could have done better and what I haven’t done at all, although I should have. I could criticize myself all day long and make plans for undoing my failures. But the time flies… Her childhood will be over soon, and I will probably regret the missed opportunities for good. 

So, I leave the unwashed dishes aside. I put the wrinkled clothes back into the closet. I jump over the toys scattered on the floor. I turn off the phone and forget about the unread emails.

None of these really matter. What I haven’t done today, I’ll do tomorrow.  

One thing does matter though, now and forever, and that is love and attention.

All our children need is to feel loved and cared for. Our children do not see the things that bother us. They are nourished by our love and by the emotions we express. They need the security we provide, our unconditional love, smile and embrace.

And the dishes, ironing, cleaning? Well, tomorrow is another day.