Browsing Tag

motherhood

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.

 

Is a messy house unavoidable if you have kids?

September 21, 2017
messy

Time is one of my worst enemies. Normally, I get up early in the morning and immediately start tidying up or getting ready for work or both. This is followed by alternate begging and threatening: Could you please hurry up? Have you peed? Get dressed. No, no, panties first, then the trousers… You’ve put on two different socks… I’m turning off the TV if you don’t hurry up… Please, comb your hair… Don’t make me do it…

What comes next is the usual madness of a work day or the positive madness of a normal weekend.

And there’s never enough time.

Finally, the day has come. I’ve decided to invite a friend with her child to our house.

I plucked up the courage to do it.

Because I must admit my home is a mess.

People normally keep at least the living room tidy, just in case unexpected guests show at the door. In our case, it isn’t so, at least not right now. Because what you can find in our living room is the following:

The ironing board.

The washing waiting patiently in the basket, probably thinking: better late than never!

My daughter’s toys. Leaving them in the living room was how she interpreted my command “move the toys out of the hall”.

Jackets which could not be stored elsewhere. (Yes, even the winter jackets, so what?)

Christmas tree decorations which couldn’t find their way to the closet for some unfathomable reason, so they now lie in wait, hoping to snatch the first opportunity to shine.

Half a cup of yoghurt (oh, there it is! I looked for it everywhere!).

Sliced apple on a plastic plate, on the floor, behind the armchair (yeah, mom, I’ve eaten everything)

The ironing board is obviously there, but I can’t remember where I’ve put the iron…

It doesn’t matter, we’ll sit on the balcony. But, first I have to:

Move the bike and the scooter (but where?);

Take out the garbage (the balcony is where it’s normally deposited, when the dustbin is full);

Collect the dry clothes (and add them to the pile in the living room)

Luckily, there’s a dining room to make a relaxed atmosphere, where the two of us could sit together. But, where can I put two cups of coffee and sandwiches? You think it’s simple?  The table is covered with my daughter’s drawings, her master-pieces. She gets very angry if I touch them, let alone move them.

And I definitely can’t allow my guest to peek into my kitchen:

The sink is full of dishes.

I can’t remember the last time I cleaned the oven.

Ok, at least the floor is clean.

What if my guest wants to wash her hands?

The bathroom is presentable, with the exception of the wash basin, artistically splashed with body lotion (but, mom, I just wanted my hands to be soft and beautiful). The liquid soap is breathing its last (but, mom, I just wanted my hands to be clean) and the bath tub is full of headless Lalaloopsy dolls  (but, mom, you said I could wash them too).

My daughter’s room I won’t even dare describe.

Yes, time is my nemesis. I simply can’t cope.

And yet, I thought it was a good idea to invite people to our home. I guess the state of emergency is a normal occurrence in all homes with children. We regularly step on things, collect them and remove them – it’s our reality. Whoever claims they can do better – I dare them to prove it!

 

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.

The day when I was the prettiest mom in the world

September 3, 2017
mom

It was a morning like many others. The alarm on my mobile phone sounded twice: when it was time for me to get up and when I already should’ve been half way through my morning routine. The second buzz did manage to wake me somehow. In theory, having slept all night, I sat on the edge of my bed and wondered about the potential meanings of my dream, in which I carried a motorcycle (!) with both its tires flat under my arm…

I started to get ready for work, racing against time, shouting the usual Have you peed already? Stop watching cartoons and get dressed! Unless you do, you’re going to the day care in your pjs. I’m not waiting for you a second longer… The mirror showed me an exhausted face, with large bags under my eyes and layers of makeup as a sorry attempt to present a fresh and ready-for-work version of myself. I’d gone to bed late again and again I was sleep deprived, frustrated, nervous. I felt the familiar pain in my lower back and remembered I have never really had any treatment for my lumbago. Is there a single mother who has time for seeing a doctor and receiving physical therapy?

I was in a dreadful mood.
I grabbed the first dress I saw in the wardrobe, made a miserable attempt to do something with my hair still full of rollers that I’d worn overnight. My apartment was now chronically untidy, the washing still lying hopeful in the ironing basket, the dirty dishes in the sink…

And then…

Life seen through the eyes of a six-year-old

Mom, I wish you never grew old. I would then always stay a child, your baby. And we would never die, neither you, nor me, nor grandma, nor dad…

She came close to me, took my hand and glanced at my chipped nail polish.
Mom, I love this enamel…

Then she touched my dress and moved away:
This dress is so pretty, and so soft… Will you let me wear it when I grow up?

She looked at my tired face:
That lipstick looks so good on you, and the blue shade on your eye lids is so nice…

She gave me a hug.
You are the prettiest and the softest mom in the world.

Life seen through the eyes of a six-year-old…

Pure magic.

The wrinkled clothes in the ironing basket didn’t bother her at all. She was simply happy because her favorite dress was clean again…

She didn’t see the lines on my face, the puffy eyes, the spider veins on my legs, the extra pounds on my body.

To her, I was the most beautiful and the best mom in the world.

Mom, when I grow up, do you know what I’ll be? I’ll be a mom, just like you!

That day, I finally put together a list of my achievements in the previous six years – what I’d managed to do, to accomplish.  

The overview of my first six years of motherhood

It was hard. It was stressful, challenging.

I spent nights without sleeping a wink, crying, trembling with fear.

I didn’t always do what I should have done.

I often didn’t have a clue what I should do, or how, or why. I just soldiered on, day after day.

Because I didn’t have a choice. From the first baby feeder, her first pair of shoes, the nursery, her first fever to this day.

Is that period finally over?
I don’t know.
But at least I can now say that I’m aware of what we’ve been through and the fog through which I felt my way intuitively has now lifted.  

Before I gave birth to my daughter, I’d come by and read many books about parenthood.
In them I found detailed instructions about what to do in case of gas discomfort, how to put a baby to sleep, what to do, and what not to do in many other events.
But I don’t remember reading that I would be exhausted and frustrated more or less all the time, that I would never be able to find the other sock in the washing basket, or that the back seat of my car would be covered with breadcrumbs and shredded paper tissues.

There’s another thing I couldn’t find in the books: that my child would love to eat a simple sausage with some yoghurt or pancakes with chocolate and hazelnut cream for dinner.
Or that she wouldn’t mind riding in a “sensible” stroller or wearing an ordinary inexpensive dress as long as she gets loads of love, care and warm hugs.

And popcorn.

Truth about single mothers

August 28, 2017
truth

Let me start from the beginning.

I’m a single mother. But I’ve always disliked this designation, so one day I simply decided to become a Supermom. Because single moms are moms with many arms who somehow manage to do everything on their own.

And because it sounds better and more powerful than the ordinary “single mother”.

I became a Supermom by chance. If I’d had a choice six years ago, I’m not sure I would have preferred to raise my daughter with a partner.

No, it’s not sour grapes. For six years now I have been acting like Shiva (Hindu deity with eight arms), and the fact is that I have already grown accustomed to that kind of parenting. I make all the decisions alone and I am the only one responsible. I don’t have to ask for anyone’s permission or help. And although I do need help, by all means, I can’t always count on it. This is why I always make plans like I can only rely on myself, which is true most of the time.

Has it been easy? Not in the least. I’ve felt abandoned and helpless. I’ve been hurt.

Anyone would feel hurt after coming to terms with the fact that the truth is a bit different from what one used to believe in.

Fear.

Sadness.

Loneliness.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been through these.

But I always pretended I was fine. I used to hide my fear, helplessness and loneliness from others. I used to hide behind being constantly busy; I walked with my head high, and tried to act like everything was under control.

I used to cry at night, when my child was asleep and couldn’t hear me.

Nobody was allowed to see me with puffy eyes, so I hid behind the makeup and the image of a “powerful, independent woman”.

I analyzed my life, my actions, my mistakes a million times.

I started doubting my sanity and my own value.

There was a time when I asked myself if I’d made the right choice and if my life could have been different, better, more fulfilled.

All of us have been in that dark place surely. Our value was assessed by others and we acted the way we thought we had to in order to be accepted.
The fact is that single mothers are not always accepted and fully appreciated everywhere. Our society always expects a woman with a child to be accompanied by her husband or the child’s father. Faced with these expectations, many single mothers spend years criticizing themselves and trying to block the thoughts that make them uneasy.

I was like that.

But the truth is:

There are no guarantees that everything would be easy, pleasant or even normal.

Things might turn out crazy, sad, unbelievable, dull, fabulous.

Our life is in our hands and we make the decisions. Nobody has the right to judge our lives, mistakes, happiness or misfortune.

We are worth what we believe we’re worth.

And we will live the way we see fit. With our head down or chin up.

Each one of us is an exquisite person.

What we think really matters because we raise little persons and guide them through life.

And we deserve all the best, the kind of respect and attention nobody has the right to deny us.

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.  

How I decided to face my fears

August 11, 2017
fears

 

It felt like I’d been driving for days. As I clutched on the wheel with my sweaty hands, my left wrist began to hurt. The distance to our destination gradually decreased, although each mile was an agony, and it was already getting dark. Another 80, 75…

 If you think it was my ingenious idea to start a blog dedicated to single mothers and their kids, you’re wrong. Everything has been written before. In my ever so scarce free time, I’d searched the Internet for websites and stories that could help answer my questions – because everything is now so conveniently available and public. Some websites were interesting, some educational, and some featured posts by really witty people.

I spent most time browsing through motivational websites. I guess that’s what I needed most at the time: a motivational guru to lift my spirits, to help me get back on my feet whenever I started giving in to everyday’s worries and stresses.

Ladies seem to dominate the motivational market. In 500 to 700 words, they’ll tell you you’re wonderful and the burden you’re carrying so bravely is something to be proud of. They’ll convince you that it’s perfectly all right to feel miserable, exhausted and disappointed because you barely cope and make ends meet, that it doesn’t affect your kids at all because they don’t care about those things anyway and your love is all that matters to them, whereas they hardly ever notice your crankiness and grudging criticism.

However desperate I felt from time to time because of the slings and arrows of a single mom’s fortune, I wasn’t prepared for the motivational mottos. Still, some of those positive statements lingered in my mind as a philosophy of life I can understand and accept.

In short: nothing is ever easy for a single mom – at least, in my experience. Most of us were raised in traditional families, with a mom, a dad, and siblings. Totally unprepared, all of a sudden we are part of families which are now almost typical for the 21st century, composed of a mom and a child. And that’s it. Nobody else can really understand what it’s like. It’s hard, it’s tough. During the sleepless nights, we try to come up with the optimum solutions to our many problems. We are overworked, sometimes juggling multiple jobs, because there’s never enough money. We are committed to our children. We rarely find time for ourselves. Everything seems scary and we start fearing situations that may seem like a joke to others.

That’s right, I’m afraid

I’m afraid I won’t be able to teach my daughter real values.
I’m afraid she’ll be hurt in life and I won’t be there to protect her.
I’m afraid I won’t be able to help her through school, as she grows up.
I’m afraid I won’t have enough money.

Motivators teach us it’s ok to be afraid as long as we make an effort to face our fears. We will feel much better after we have tried and overcome certain problems, however huge and menacing they might seem at first.

Since this philosophy sounded reasonable and applicable, I decided to face my fears to improve our lives.  

We all fear something, but what we fear most is to admit to ourselves and others what it is that scares us so

Earlier, I wouldn’t dare drive my daughter to the seaside on my own. Although I’m an experienced driver, I’d never driven for so long in a single day. It might seem funny to you that the fear kept me awake for many nights before the journey. Believe it or not, I almost called it off.

And yet, I didn’t. So, six days ago, I was sitting behind the wheel, still some 80 miles away from our destination. It was getting dark and I started sweating and gripping the wheel harder. Every now and then I would make hopeful glances at the navigation device half expecting it to accelerate the mile count and show our destination, finally at hand.

We’re all afraid of something, and I’m no exception. I talk about my fears very reluctantly because I’m used to showing a brave face to the world, pretending to be an independent, strong woman who can deal with anything.  

I may be tempted to write a motivational post when I feel ready to share what I’ve learnt with others.  

Until then, I’ll admit I get scared a lot, but at least I’ve realized that fears are something that should be discussed and fought back. I’ve dealt with one and – triumphed.

There are all sorts of fears

Some fears are senseless, based on ideas and assumptions that exist only in our minds.

Some were successfully installed by our parents.

Many have simply become a part of who we are.

Some people are afraid of bugs, some of being alone. It’s all fine, but it’s up to us to work on ourselves and overcome some situations, set ourselves free and ensure a happier existence to our children.  

 

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.

Why do I still carry my child?

July 6, 2017
carry

I started thinking about all kinds of dos and don’ts even before my daughter was born.
Among other things, I was wondering if children should be carried, as a rule.
Some mothers carry their children all the time: their offsprings lie in their arms like baby koalas, in front carriers, in back carry wraps, on their heads… Be it their own decision or acting on advice, they surely realise at some point that this sweetest burden is also a hindrance. Children get used to being carried around and there’s no way for them to lose the habit easily, at least until they start walking. Having considered all the aspects of my future life as a single mother, I decided not to carry my child.
And, against all odds, I persisted!
Or maybe I was just lucky to have a child who’s not too demanding by nature, who knows?
Anyway, she spent most of the time in the crib and began to discover the outside world only after she found her way out of the crib. OK, that was obviously an exaggeration, but I really didn’t carry her much, and I’m sure this made my parenting much easier.

One sweet day, my baby started to crawl… and then to toddle, holding on to the furniture as she walked past it unsteadily. In time, she became more and more stable.

Don’t think I’ve never carried her at all

Far from it: for a long time, I did carry her down the stairs (we live on the third floor, no lift, oh joy!).
I used to carry her when she was asleep or simply when she was tired and cranky.
Of course I did; there’s no greater pleasure than feeling the tiny arms around your neck or the small legs around your waist.
Cheek to cheek, as she whispers into my ear: „You smell so good, mom. You are the best mom in the world“.

But, the child has grown… and become heavier…
Mothers are strong by definition, and single mothers are stronger still – they simply don’t have any choice.
Still, carrying a child who weighs 45 pounds can be a problem.

And so I started denying her that pleasure quite consistently.

Until one evening, we arrived home; she was exhausted, and I was frustrated with all the everyday worries and problems. She lay on my bed („our bed“ – she still sleeps next to me) and asked me to play some cartoons.
When I called her to have a bath, she just squealed – „I’m so tired, please, carry me…“.

My first instinct was to say no.

I thought: What if I hurt my back, who will take care of her and do everything instead of me?

Then I saw her pleading eyes and just extended my arms.

I lifted my big, heavy child and carried her to the bathroom. Pity no one was around to take photos. I’m sure the picture would be hilarious.

I carried her knowing that such occasions would soon become very rare, if not impossible.
Time will come when she will no longer want to be my baby. She will move to her room and shut the door when her friends come to visit.

I will soon remember those lovely moments with nostalgia, her arms around my neck, the sleepy child who will always be only my baby. One day, soon perhaps, my child will want more independence and laugh at my need to carry her from time to time.

Until then, I’ll be happy to take any opportunity, any occasion. I will live each blissful moment, each second of happiness to the full. I will enjoy her childhood, her soft cheek rubbing against mine and her thin little voice, whispering that she loves me into my ear.