Staunch, Unyielding, dedicated… AKA “The Single Parent”
ALAS……IT HAS BEGUN.
POSH SCHOOLS HAVE STARTED THEIR NEW TERM (finally!!!)
After what, may I just say, was the loooooongest summer holiday EVER. Those lovable, relentless, cheeky, sweet, rude, thankless, cuddly, adorable, tug-at-your heart, mean, hideous, gorgeous creatures we created (I was THAT desperate I had IVF for FFS!) returned to a daily day care, known as a wonderful Institution I thoroughly hated, and was kicked out of TWICE, called “School”.
Just hearing those words now makes me feel sooo incredibly elated/ill/nauseous/thankful. I sometimes need to restrain myself from hugging their Teachers when I see them after a school break. How Teachers do their jobs, day in day out, without becoming seriously mentally ill, is beyond me. I know, these are children they eventually hand back to us at the end of the day (probably a reassuring thought, unless one taught at Boarding school), yet…HOW DO THEY KEEP THEIR SHIT TOGETHER when dealing with not one, two or even three kids, but 20-25!? HOW??? How are they staying grounded? Seriously, some MUST be on some form of medication, or at least “Rescue Remedy” by the gallon. I mean, I AM A PARENT. THREE HUMANS CAME OUT OF MY BODY. YET….I’m more than willing to hand those “beings” over to an adult I know zero personal info about, daily….why/ BECAUSE I NEED A FUCKING BREAK OK!!!?? I NEED TO SHOWER WITHOUT INTERRUPTION!!! I NEED TO SIT DOWN WITHOUT BEING “BECKOND” TO SOMEO^ OR $ YEAR OLDS NEEDS. I NEED TIME ALONE. ON PURPOSE. Yes, say it. IM A SELFISH WOMAN/MOTHER.
Do you know, I get soooo selfish now about my own personal time, that I literally turn all avenues of communication off when I know the children are safe. That may be for 1 hour, or 24….but MY GOD…how liberating was life before email and friggin mobile fucking phones. Both of which have caused more damage than good ie. how many marriages/relationships/careers, have been busted over social media leaks!? Keep Big Brother out your life, and you would actually be FREE of all the “why didn’t you respond to my wassap?!!” bullshit.
Anyway….back to what is my present happiest/saddest moment this past week…..yes, I just shared a rare “vulnerable” insight. Get over it. It wont happen for another fucking year if I can help it….unless I win the lottery.
So….Schools are now open. Parents are now able to eat without indigestion. Life has resumed, as us stay at home parents know it.
What happens when the kids return to school (aside from reducing your dose of Vodka/Xanax/”quiet moment in the loo”)?
Here are some of the emotions a parent will feel when the kids return to school after any holiday/break/Parent-home-jail:-
- Initially, ELATION. You’re thinking, “Brilliant. Once I drop those monkies off, I can get back to doing what actually needs to be done!!” Now….”what needs to be done”, in your mind, will probably involve things like: a) having a cup of tea, without someone screaming “MUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMM, SHES ANNOYING ME AGAIN WITH HER BALLOON/GERBIL/FOOT/FACE!!!!!” b) eating a slice of toast and actually reading the newspaper to find out how normal people are living their lives…c) dealing with dreaded admin (endless emails that needed “URGENT” attention 1 week ago.
- The second thing you think you’ll do is get the house sorted finally. Have a proper tidy up, get rid of old school work/endless pictures of Princesses or stickers being removed from walls or floors/get organised and give to charity old clothes (millions). You are convinced, no matter what, that you will NOT MISS THEM.
- You will have time to make calls and organise diaries, meet Mummys from the school for “Coffee Mornings”, return to your beloved Pilates classes with a vengeance, eat uninterrupted, maybe even smile…
- You think you will clean out your fridge, organise the shelves, sort all the shoes maiming people as they trip up when walking in at your front door. You think you will be able to GET SORTED.
- REST – AKA “Really earned sitting time”… as in, not being called to do something the minute you think you can have a gulp of water and sit down to eat the left over scraps (because you cant be arsed to cook for yourself anymore).
ALL OF THE ABOVE WONT HAPPEN.
The sad, shameless, harsh, reality is this.
You will drop the kids off, do a food shop, wash a million clothes, rush home to tidy up after the morning rush getting out the front door, was dishes, bleach and disinfect everything, read emails, pay bills…. You will make a zillion calls on behalf of the kids, you, your life, your home sale (I’m trying to sell up and move ASAP. Living in my old “Marital home” is hell on earth), you Mum will ring and want an hour long chat about what you “need to do to make things easier” (yet never once saying, “Go travelling and ask their Dad to do this horrendous monotonous, sleepless, daily routine, without going absolutely insane”.
Single parents, what can I say to you!?
Before I became one, I had NO IDEA, how stressful and incredibly challenging, this role can be. You are both good cop and bad cop, you are Mum AND Dad, you are friend then foe…you are, to your children, their everything in daily life. You matter. You have huge responsibilities. You are forever, and ever, on your own with the daily parenting routine. Mornings are busy getting ready for school, rush hour/school clubs/playdates/endless birthday parties, collections and drop offs, Doctors/dentists/therapy appointments, bath times and bed times, happy/sad moments….all being done by one (exceptionally strong) person.
When I collapse into bed at night, and think “hmmm….maybe Ill read my book” you know what happens? One of my three children WILL wake (I think they sense my mind/body relaxing) and ask for water, the loo, a cuddle, to kiss their pet Rabbit “Jimmy”, to stroke their hair, to sleep with me… If I’m lucky to have a full nights sleep, I still wake to check on them…
This non-paying, (apparently not really “hard”) “job”, its not easy. People who comment, judge, claim you do “nothing all day but drop the kids off & (ALLEGEDLY) “SLEEP“…they have NO IDEA what is mentally, physically, emotionally, involved. What level of responsibility is on your shoulders, and yours…. alone. I used to be a lawyer. I thought that was a hard, thankless, underpaid, job. It is NOTHING compared to what I have been doing alone for the last 2 years. Stupid, mindless snipes/comments and judgements, from the side-lines, that used to infuriate me, now, make me judge AND comment back. For those wonderful strong, sometimes exhausted single parents, remember, those stone throwers in your glass house can FUCK OFF. YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN WITH WHAT YOU HAVE & KNOW.
As tired as I have been, juggling this daily human rearing/emotionally challenging daily role, I still would never ever ever again, have a nanny or Au pair in my home. My past experience with Filippino nannies in Hong Kong have left a horrible taste in my mouth/heart. People you trusted who turn on you, or worse yet, your child.
Plus, my personal space and freedom means too much now. I like not having someone pottering around my house. Unless you’re blood…get the fuck out! I didn’t grow up being raised by someone else. Only family members were allowed to babysit us. Never an outsider. I now understand why my Mum was so strict on this. My Mum has never had a cleaner in her her house let alone another woman to help out with her children. Mum would often tell me, “A woman, in my house? Why? What for!? Never. I AM THE ONLY LADY OF THIS HOUSE”. She never liked the Hong Kong “Maid” culture and hated the Helpers being there when she came to stay. She felt them constantly watching and judging and didn’t trust my home situation at all. “Get rid of them and have someone come for a few hours during the day” she would often say. “Never have another woman living in your home”.
Anyhow….back to the kids and school.
So, on the first day back…
I suddenly had that horrible “Ground Hog Day”moment. I’d forgotten how HORRIBLE the school run is. WHY CAN’T WE HAVE SCHOOL BUSES LIKE THE AMERICANS?!! It cuts traffic and makes stressful situations with the kids, just that little bit easier.
Doing that 25-50 minute journey, sometimes up to 1.2 hours, in traffic/road closures/car breakdowns (not mine)/accidents/life being a bastard, with 3 kids questioning you constantly about “why the sun has clouds” that particular day, or “can’t we get there faster Mummy? Cant you tell everyone we have school??”, “can penguins live in Space?”, “did you remember to pack my Dinosaur?” or “he’s/shes staring at me again Mummy. Its freaking me out!!!”.…I felt incredibly claustrophobic on day one. Trapped in my Ambulance sized 7 seater vehicle, with 3 mini Me’s, who were apprehensive about a new term, tired due to all the Balvanie 12 year Whisky from the night before, and irritated by the “school shoes that are not comfortable like flipflops”.
The main reason for my discomfort, considering I have done this journey over a zillion times?
My youngest, who has a rare Chromosome Disorder started school, alongside her siblings, for the first time. And I felt ill at the thought of being parted from her. Tearful and ill.
As it transpries, we arrived, I dropped the twins off in their buiding first, then walked to my youngests first day, in uniform (which she soooo loves) in the building a road away. On arriving at her new school, fully uniformed up, she walked in, picked her name off the desk and dropped it into a little pretend post box (I kept praying “Please pick your name…please pick your name!!!”) and she then sat down at a desk. Once sat, my youngest child/best friend/shadow for the last 4 years, who I am overly protective of, looked at me and said “I’m ok Mummy, bye“. My 4 year old daughter, who has a rare Chromosome disorder, gave ME perimission to leave, because she could tell, I was broken hearted knowing my youngest baby was no longer “a baby” anymore. She let ME go. I held back tears (I was in a classroom FFS!), told the Ex-Captain (who was there) I “had to leave” and walked out to breathe fresh air and gather my shit. I felt proud, broken, proud, worried for her, and elated she had been strong enough to not cry when I left, was keen to settle in, and appeared confident & independent. I had done my job. Too well.
I’m a Mum. I’m a parent. The biggest most understated job in the world, yet the most important. Surely?
Bloody hell…..its only the first week…..I’m fucked.
Letting go of them (“your heart walking around outside your body”)….is harder than I ever imagined.
Yes, I know…I’ve said it now. I ADORE THEM . Shoot me.
You still cant make me go to some shitty playdate…..I love them but theres a fine line & I’m not quite ready for the dark side of bullshit peer pressure, fake “in your face” paenting where I have to attend a French “Art & Crafts” playdate, just to prove Im a good parent.
I know I fucking am. I hate how this generation of parents (and probably the last?!) feel the need to keep their children constantly busy with clubs, playdates, classes, after school/club extra classes, music, dance, art, pottery, karate, etc etc etc. If you do ALLLLL this crap, apparently, youre a good parent.
Dont tell me my number of playdates equates to who I am as a Mother!?
Im there for every minute of their lives. They understand that sitting down for a moment, spending time as a family, laughing (we laugh A LOT & dance!), being relaxed and comfortable, as a person, is just as important as being surrounded by numerous strangers/people, that dont justify your existence. You can be surrounded by dozens of people and yet, feel lonely. OR surrounded by love, and feel safe, confident, appreciated. I agree, in life, we need/must have good, solid friends. I have had a crew of friends for 30 plus years. We are so solid, that our conversations are similar to an imaginary (rock solid) “vault”.
I know I’m blessed to have such a good group of friends I have known since school. A group sooo close to being my sisters, that we do, pretty much, anything for each other. We all turn 40 this/early part of next year (together – same school year). I appreciate good friendships.
However, I also respect and feel independent alone, without them. No one justifies my existence but me. Of course, having my amazing crew of friends with me is brilliant (& sometimes dangerous!). But children also need to learn to be comfortable within their own skin. To understand who they are WITHOUT peer pressure. To be solid and stand alone means you can do whatever you want in life with confidence. You can also make the right choices (hopefully, but not always) in friends, in relationships, in life. Your friends and family are there to support you, laugh with you, love you. But you need to learn to do that for yourself, to appreciate yourself, before you share your wonderfulness with everyone else.
Kids need to go back to “Old School values” and appreciate that sometimes, “playing in your room” without a thousand posh playmates, is OK. Youre being normal. You’re being relaxed, and youre being, most importantly, independent and confident.
My parenting, with the children I adore and love, I am going to do, my way. And in my opinion, a solid way. “OLD SCHOOL“.
Let them understand, and appreciate, who they are as people.
You can be at numerous playdates weekly, sipping coffe and talking shit to some random parent, bored out of our mind, t pretending you give a shit. Yet, not notice your child is having zero connection with anyone in that playdate, or worse yet, being passively bullied (past experience with my daughter who dreaded one particular forced upon us both, playdate.
Everything in life should be in balance? That works better.
Independence, appreciation of who you are, and an understanding that “you count” (I tell my kids nightly how “important and valued” they are). Lead them down the path of freedom to be themselves, and hopefully, satisfaction, confidence and a knack for being kind to everyone. Their future respect, freedom to be themselves and happiness, lies in that. Knowing, no mater what you do, or achieve, you are “important”.
Playdates? What fucking difference is that going to make in the long run?! They play all day at school together. And they’re only 6 and 4 years old. Everyone needs to get a grip, call their parents and recall how we lived in the ’80’s.
Now the 80’s….those were some bloody brilliant fucking days (not that many parents slept with all the coke flying around in £50 notes)….:)