Tuesday, 28 April 2009

On being a ....

single mum. As a mum to a rather hyperactive five year old, I am often accorded a status just shy of sainthood.
"I don't know how you do it?" friends say, with that mixture of pity and awe that single parents seems to elicit. I sigh deeply and shrug bravely,
"You just have to get on with it."
There's no question that single mothers face significant difficulties, not the least of which is financial hardship. I am studying at the moment and I like to treat my writing as a full time job (and hope that one day it will be) so there is alot of juggling involved. I met a fellow author at a Christmas lunch last year and she was amazed that I ever found the time to write. She has a supportive hubbie (who earns good money), a full time nanny and one child the same age as my son and STILL she struggles to complete deadlines. She actually has a sign on the door to her office (office - what a luxury. What's wrong with the kitchen table?) that she puts up when she is writing with her daughter at home. It reads - "Please do not disturb unless you are bleeding" I gave up a long time ago even attempting to write when my son was around. I know women are supposed to be able to multi-task but there is a limit for goodness sake. I got so worried that I was distorting my wee boy's concept of time ("In a minute.." "I'll do it just a second...") that I decided it was in both our interests to wait until I was alone before switching on my laptop.
There are also massive emotional challenges that we single parents are faced with - just last night I had to reassure my son that he would not wake up with leprosy (the school assembly had been all about this and the 'kind' person who had come in to give the talk went into graphic details about weeping sores and not being able to hold a pencil or ever cuddle your mum again- gee thanks for that!)
There are so many hats to wear as a lone parent and when the day is over and we collapse into the sofa for that well earned cuppa there is nobody there to share the burden or to discuss what has happened during the day. The important decisions sit very firmly on our shoulders. Last night I laughed weakly when I googled 'single parents' to get some support and all these dating websites popped up. Dating! Are you having a laugh? I did consider having a peek just to see if all the prospective dates looked like me - smeared mascara halfway down my face (on a rare day when I had bothered with make-up), bags under my eyes that you could have packed your holiday luggage in, flushed cheeks from the efforts of the bedtime routine (I'll tell you about that in a minute!) and bedraggled, unbrushed hair loosely scraped back from aforementioned florid face. Yeah, what a catch boys, you don't know what you're missing!
Anyway, I resisted taking the route of looking in at some of the sites but did wonder how single parents had the time, energy (or available babysitters) to look for love.... The one brilliant thing about being a single mum (well actually there are some benefits to bringing up your child alone but that's a whole other blog entry!) is that you are never alone. Even when you are, you're not - if you know what I mean. Yes, it's a tough job but I wouldn't hand my notice in for all the tea in China.
Right, as promised here is last night's bedtime routine (just to give you a glimpse into my mad world)
7pm - I run the bath while putting away ironing and laying out school uniform for tomorrow. Junior finishes his homework and gets undressed. The rule about leaving his dirty clothes in one pile flies out the window and I am still finding smelly, rolled up socks behind the TV and hanging from the living room lampshade this morning.
7.15pm-Junior has bath. If a visitor arrived at this point in time they would be forgiven for thinking that Free Willy has been in my bathroom. I wipe down the floor and walls, tidy away a million marine animals while Junior gets into his PJ's. We have a race otherwise I know this might take all night.
7.40pm-All dried and cosy in PJ's (which had to be re-done as they were on inside out and back to front). I attempt to dry Junior's hair but he won't stand still long enough. In between handstands, ninja moves and being dragged into the 'anomolie' (which is really just the rug on the floor) we manage something that resembles Tina Turner on a damp day.
7.50pm-Heavy chat about leprosy and lots of reassuring cuddles.
8.10pm-I am asked to do a rendition of Pink's "So What" on the green plastic recorder which I think I manage extremely well and Junior dances so he obviously agrees.
8.15pm-Storytime. Mr Men tonight and I therefore have to adopt various funny accents and expressions which makes me appear quite mad. Mr Tickle sounds like Graham Norton on helium and Mr Uppity sound like her majesty the Queen.
8.35pm-Junior still seems to have an abundance of energy left but I am failing fast. I agree to let him read to me from the "Walking with Dinosaurs" book (his favourite) and I nod and make the right noises while fighting to keep my eyes open. I get asked why dinosaurs can't come through an anomolie and eat us and to my horror I reply "Just cos". I am officially brain dead.
8.45pm-Junior tucked up in bed listening to Spike Milligan poetry (he laughs himself to sleep) and I return to the scene of devastation that is my living room (there has been a lego explosion and the felt tips seem to have bred on the kitchen table while I've been away). I do dinner the dishes, put ironing board away, make tomorrow's packed lunch, write some comments in Junior's homework book, tidy up best I can before collapsing onto the settee to check emails etc.
Dating? When am I supposed to find the time for that?!!!

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry Haze I have been keeping an eye on the whole "dating" scene, and you know the old phrase 'there is plenty more fish in the sea', well believe me it has been over fished! So you are not missing anything. Will let you know if there is actually anything to cast a line for. ;o)