Friday, July 8, 2011

To be a single mother...

I used to be a single mother. I guess it's nothing extraordinary, especially in France where half of the couples (married or not) break up, and even more in Paris. But each time I see a single mother, I feel something special in my heart...


The other day, my neighbor F. told me that she and her husband had just broke up, he has left her to go and live "the adventure" (I assume with someone else...) and now she is staying alone in their apartment with her three little boys - and not easy ones, too. They seem to be smart enough to make is as smooth as possible for the kids and managed to organize the holidays and all so that the kids can see both their mom and dad. But when F. told me what happened, the first thing I thought was: Oh girl, good luck... Because she doesn't know yet.


To be a single mother is tough for many reasons. 


First of all, having children is work, and when you are single, it means you have to do everything alone. Go shopping, take the kids to school, pick them up, arrange your time at work, occupy them on week-ends, wake up at night when they have a nightmare, go to the doctor when they are sick, cook, clean... And that's just the practical side of it. For me, it was very hard because I was 100% of the time a single mother since my father's daughter had left for another country and therefore he was never here to help. I had to take care of everything on my own. But the hardest part was probably to have to decide for everything without any support from another person, or any second opinion to balance the decisions. Having to be at the same time the one who gives kisses and the one who gives orders. All the time. It really crushed my heart at times.


Also, when you are a divorced mother and you are not absolutely ugly, you will probably notice that your female friends put a distance between you and them, and it's hard to make new friends apart from the other single moms at your children's school who want to make friends with you and then spend their time talking about how bad their ex is... Personally, no thanks. 
Yes, when you are a single mother, you are a single woman, and it scares the other women... I've never been more lonely than when I was a single mom. My friends, who should have supported me more than ever - right?-, started to act akwardly with me, they barely invited me anymore and didn't call so often... I guess they didn't want to deal with my problems, which is human, and they haven't gone through the same sh*t so they don't know how lonely you feel and left out. And probably, like I said, they unconsciously saw me as a threat since I was now single and we all know how men feel about single mothers: some think run, other think let's help...


Also, when you are single and you get no help from the father of your child(ren), unless you are loaded, it means having money problems. I have developed a great ability to live off of nothing and still give my daughter everything she needed - in France we have good help from the government in these cases - I totally admire women who go through this in countries where you have no help, or worse, where you are treated like an outcast for being divorced with kids... But I definitely had to give up on things like going out to the movies or to the restaurants like I used to, or buying nice clothes - forget it. Usually, all your money goes to pay the rent, the food and toys and clothes for your child(ren). In general, a single mother has a very big heart and most of the times she is devoted to her kids, maybe because that's all she has left. Not to mention that a lot of times you feel guilty that you can't give your child a "normal" life with a united family at home...


And let's be honest, having to live a separation, even if you wanted it, is never easy, and you often go through some kind of depression, which is tough on the kids and makes it even harder to take care of them.


I could write a book with stories about how difficult it is to be a single mom, even if I treasure those years in my heart. Me and my daughter had great times together and she really was my sunshine - and still is.


One of the most difficult moments of my life as a single mother was at my friend L.'s birthday dinner. She had invited me - for once - and I had come, happy to get out, which was so rare it was ridiculous. I had called a baby-sitter (around 25 euros for a night) and I was so broke that I gave L. one of my favorite books that was in really good shape, a book I never found again in any bookshop. I went there and I had the loneliest dinner ever. I knew most of the people though, there were two of my best friends I have known forever, my sister and another guy whom I've known since childhood. They were all talking about the latest movies, friends of theirs that I didn't know, exhibits, their jobs... And there I was, with nothing to talk about except for my daughter and pre-school stories. What really hurt me that night, is that none of them really made an effort to talk with me, after five minutes they turned away from me and went to chat with someone more fun or easier to talk with. I felt uncomfortable but I still tried to get into the conversations, and personally I can't let someone sit in a room without no one talking to them, I just hate that. I left early that night because I was bored and felt so out of place and also because I had to rush back home to send the young baby-sitter back home. I felt so lonesome and sad that night, I thought it was better to stay at home. I never renounced having a social life though, but I knew it was not the right moment for me, I had to rebuild myself and my life first, and I had to do it on my own because obviously no one could really help...


Now that most of the people who were at this dinner have children, I often hear things like "It must have been really hard for you to raise your daughter alone". No kidding. I am not a bitter person, but my heart still has a hard time when I hear that, because it is sad that people need to go through something themselves in order to identify with other people's pain...
My own sisters admire me a lot now, for what I've gone through, but at that time like everybody else, they probably criticized me on my back for doing this or that with my daughter. Try it. Then talk. That's what I would say to anybody, especially those who don't even have kids, who bitch about single moms - how pretentious.


BUT, there are also good things about being a single mom.
You get to do anything you want at home, the way you want, and for someone like me who likes to control everything, it is a great feeling. When you are single, you are the boss. No one messing up the kitchen, no one leaving water on the floor after their shower. No one to challenge you with the education of your child(ren). You decide. But like I said before, you decide and many times you feel lonely like a king in times of the supremacy of monarchy if you knwo what I mean.
Also, when you are a single mom, you often have a very special relationship with your children. It brings you closer. And, like the saying goes what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. When my relationship with Earl became really serious, I realized how strong I had been, and how fragile I was at the same time. Now that I could put my head on someone's shoulder, I really didn't know who to be. I was so used to control everything, it was - and still is - very hard to let someone else decide with me, and still today I have a hard time not trying to do everything on my own with the kids and the house. Being a single mother affects you more than you think.


That's why I started following girls like Kandee on the Internet, who is the opposite of me on so many things but with whom I can identify, and why I love girls like Rebecca because she is the image of a realistic marriage...


I don't know how this post sounds, but this is my heart speaking... I have been thinking of a picture to illustrate my words, and I found this one: me and my daughter planting flowers on the balcony. We did that a lot in the old apartment where we used to stay just the two of us, it was one of our favorite things to do: yes, we planted flowers like hopes, and then we  watered them and watched them grow and get bigger and prettier as days went by...




4 comments:

un courant d'air dans la maison said...

quel billet ! wouah ! tu fais bien de dire cela tout haut... on imagine pas je crois. J'ai quelques copines maman célibataires rencontrées à l'école, et c'est sûr que ça fait réfléchir... Quand la tentation devient grande de vouloir vivre en célibataire de nouveau pour être tranquille chez soi, sans conflit sans dispute, heureusement elles sont là pour te dire, nan nan, n'y pense même pas, fait un effort, moi je regrette... A nous d'être attentifs aussi à elles, prendre des nouvelles, garder l'enfant de temps à autre,...

French Cannes Cannes said...

Chapeau bas - respect for single moms . I don't have kids yet but I'm already worried about how to "do it all" à deux! Single parents deserve awards - respect mamma.

French Cannes Cannes said...

Ps - thank goodness for France in that way...

Anabelle Tess said...

Thank you girls...

Et tu as raison Delphine, parce qu'on on idéalise souvent autant la vie seule (tranquille) que la vie à deux (amoureuse)...