My children irritate the shit out of me.
That, is me being totally honest. They make me swear a lot but they also make me laugh, a lot. They irritate and infuriate but at the same time they amaze and surprise, all the time, every day.
Our children are our legacies aren’t they? They are what we will one day leave behind. Similar but not exact versions of ourselves. We try to encourage them to always be true to themselves and to be honest and good. We all want out children to turn out well. To become, generally good, well-rounded individuals.
Being a parent is not easy. I certainly haven’t found it particularly easy. There are days when I have completely lost my shit and have felt like I am losing my grip on all things Elsie and Tom related, however, these moments pass, quickly. This is just as well, as no one would ever have children otherwise.
It’s a bit like childbirth isn’t it. When you are doing it and you feel like your vagina is the size of a football pitch and the pain is akin to… actually thinking about it, what is it akin to? I don’t think there is a pain that comes anywhere close to it, well none that I have experienced, yet. Thank God! The point is though, that you forget.
When you are back in the maternity unit though, however many years later, you realise you forgot about the time before. You forgot all too quickly about your first child-bearing experience, the time that you were screaming and threatening to harm anyone that came within a mile of you. Your vagina being the size of a football pitch with half a dozen unfamiliar faces all having a look up it. The pain and the exhaustion and the bloody time it all took and you repeatedly saying ‘I am NEVER doing this again.’ You forgot all that, didn’t you?
You forgot because you have a beautiful baby.
These moments that seem gargantuan at the time, soon pass because if they didn’t, there would be no children in the world. It is a bittersweet mix of incredible highs and desperate lows but that is parenting. It’s a learning curve, the like of which you’ve never experienced before and nothing or no one can prepare you for it.
I do think that some, find it easier than others. Some of the mum’s I know seem to find it much easier than me and most have more children than I do but they still seem to sail along, on a heavenly parental breeze. I on the other hand lurch from one day to another hoping only to avoid being reported to Social Services.
As you know, I am a single parent. The does not mean that I am a rubbish parent. I struggle, yes I do, it is hard sometimes and tiring and thankless but my friends, even the ones with husbands, complain about all the same things I do.
They struggle to maintain, job and family and life, we all have the same ups and downs. The homework arguments. The tidy your room arguments. The, who ate all the bloody snacks arguments?
I feel a deeper connection with Elsie, I think because she is a girl, than I do with Tom but I love Tom like I never thought it was possible to love another human. Does that make sense?
Tom is my baby, he will always be my baby but Elsie is my sidekick. She is my girl. My reliable, lovely, funny sweet girl.
The things I teach my children, I learnt from my own mother. I have a great relationship with my mum and I am very lucky and very thankful for that.
We are very similar apart from, she has no filter. She can be a little rash with her comments and doesn’t always engage her brain before she remarks on something. She is a bit old school, it is a generational thing no doubt and as such she is, or can be, blunt and to the point. She doesn’t always bring diplomacy to the conversation.
What she does bring though, is love and compassion and strength, all the things a good mother should have.
We still, to this day argue, we are both quite opinionated, strong-willed women but she and I both know that there is no stronger bond than that of a mother and her child.
Women are strong they are the backbone of a family, they are what stops the string from unravelling.
For me, there is something quite powerful about raising children on your own. I won’t say it was something I entered in to by choice because it wasn’t. However, there was a small part of me that always felt like this is how it would be for me.
When I was younger I can remember thinking that one day I would have a daughter, my daughter and I would be inseparable and have adventures together but it was always, just me and her.
My relationship with my children’s father was pretty toxic to be fair. It was a volatile and very unpredictable relationship, not help along by his reluctance to give up his ‘lifestyle‘, he was a drinker and as far as I am aware he still is, he wanted to be Peter Pan and be young and live forever, with no responsibilities. Now, he is married to someone else and looks after her three children instead of his own and still drinks far too much far too often, it just hasn’t killed him yet, unfortunately!
The day I realised that I had to get out of there, was the day I decided to have Tom. I knew that in the future it was just going to be us, which so far was me and Elsie.
I think I knew then that I would struggle in a ‘conventional’ relationship and so the thought of her never having a brother or sister, or that if she did they would not share the same parents, troubled me.
I often have a tendency to over analyse a situation and I am terrible at making decisions, I deliberate and procrastinate, I think, in the hope that someone will say; ‘Right, this is what’s happening..’ but I knew then that I wanted another child and I wanted them both to have the same parents.
Elsie was not a planned pregnancy and no one was more shocked than me, I was living and working abroad and at 30, had kind of thought it wasn’t going to happen. Tom was my planned pregnancy but planned in a weirdly meticulous way, right down to the actual day most likely to conceive, just so I wouldn’t have to put myself through the ordeal of sex too often (bet you never thought I would say that), it worked first time, no mean feat for a man who could drink his own body weight in lager.
Not long after Tom was born we separated. I left after another fight with one of neighbours saw him getting arrested again! It was in a way how I planned in my head or do I just tell myself that?
I am not over protective of my children and some would go so far as to say that I let them have too much freedom, particularly Tom but I make no secret of the fact that I am in charge. I am Father and Mother and I am tough as old boots when I need to be and as soft as sugar the next. It is my house, my rules. I have to be strong, firm, dependable, reliable, nurturing, caring, loving and steady, it is my job.
A job I have been doing for quite some time now. I will never get it 100% right and I will never not have ‘oh shit’ moments but come between me and my children at your own peril.
That protective, animalistic streak that I never thought I had, will rear its ugly head in a heartbeat.