Showing posts with label Single mum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Single mum. Show all posts

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Tears Before Bedtime

Nothing ever goes completely smoothly. The new school year started so well, with such good intentions on all sides, but gradually things have slipped. We are back to the usual early morning routine. 'I'm not going to call you again!' 'If you aren't ready, I shall just go without you and you can find your own way to school!' Six miles across country and no buses unless he catches the 7.45 from the village - fat chance! The letters home - broken bounds, coming home at lunchtime if he doesn't have lessons, work not done or handed in, threatened suspensions, lectures from tutors. All the old familiar themes. How could I ever have thought we had cracked it this time?

Which isn't to say that there hasn't been progress, that things aren't moving in the right direction. I hope. But I fool myself if I think things have resolved. And, to make me feel really bad, apparently it is all my fault, he tells me. The way he is. That's the hardest thing to take. I look deep inside myself and wonder, and worry. Perhaps he is right. All the times I got it wrong, when I was too tired or emotional or stressed to be the perfect mother I wanted to be and we certainly aren't the perfect family, but in the end, you do the best you can with the cards you are dealt and that is the only positive message I can give my son today.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Sea Change

He gets himself up in the mornings now without being called, dresses, breakfasts and chivvies me, yawning and still half-dressed, out of the house.

Spending the summer wondering and worrying - had he done enough? Would he lose something that was important to him? Would he be going back to his school or not? All this certainly put everything in context. And then the triumph. He could do it and he could do it by himself!  Somehow in the last few weeks a wall has come down in my son's heart and mind. Whatever was blocking him seems to have melted, I hope for good. He has visibly matured, grown up and become more comfortable in his skin. We went out in September and bought his first suit, navy blue and washable, but very smart. He chose shirts and a tie, shoes that were neither too smart nor too casual.

And all this new positivity is reaping its rewards. Staff are pleasantly surprised and impressed and respond to the new person he is becoming, friendships are maturing and being sealed. There is even a pretty girl in the picture - long red hair and coltish legs, and a part in the school play.

Which all leads me to question ... what really was the problem? Because there is no doubt there was a very real and quantifiable problem and that it started when he was very young. What particular combination of genes and family circumstances led us down the difficult path we have both travelled?

I suppose, in the end, it doesn't really matter. The important thing is to negotiate that path day by day and somehow find a way through until the moment comes when he is ready to take over his life. And I can let him go.

Friday, 1 June 2007

The Curse of the Pink Bag

I've just realised, I've done it again.

I went out in my lunch break a couple of weeks ago and, browsing around one of the lovely local accessories shops which thrive in this prosperous small town, I spotted an outrageous hot pink handbag, perfect for summer, I thought, and particularly perfect for Speech Day, a very smart affair held in the local church, with drinks afterwards on the lawn, followed by a barbecue lunch

I had my outfit planned weeks in advance; a black wrap dress with a cream pattern traced delicately over it, a boxy black linen jacket, black high heeled shoes and pale pink jewellery. The bag would certainly finish things off with a flourish. We single mums have to keep our ends up in coupledom.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't go. I found out a couple of days before that my son's year, being on study leave, were not expected to attend. I suppose I could have gone on my own, but that seemed a bit sad. And I had had an exhausting few weeks and was at a pretty low ebb.

Still, I'm sure it will come in useful for something else. The drinks party I'm going to on Sunday, perhaps? I really must stop buying pink bags. The buying of one seems to spell social disaster for me.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Into the Void

I don't think I really expected to be alone for so long. I am, after all, an intelligent, attractive woman. I think I have a lot to offer. Other people seem to manage it quite well, but it just hasn't happened for me. There have been skirmishes. I have scars.

Of course it's not easy, coming from the back of the pack, trailing damage and baggage, and it probably doesn't help that I live in the back of beyond, in established couple territory. The price you pay for being in the catchment area of a good state school. Not that they are all living happily ever after, but with house prices being sky high, and the astronomical cost of divorce for those with good careers, most of them have too much to lose to cut and run. But that's fine. Marriage and family are the glue in society.

I did wonder, when it all fell apart, if I should hot tail back to London and take my chance there and if it had been just me, there would have been no question. So I stayed but time passes, children grow up and leave home, my youngest son will leave school within the next three years. What then? I have made a life for myself here, I have some good friends whom I cherish, a job I enjoy that fits in with my family commitments.

Do I step into the void, older, perhaps wiser.  Alone?

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Pink Bag

I still think I am going to Lille next week - can it really be next week? It seemed so much more appealing when it was next month. This is beginning to seem real! So, I went shopping yesterday in the nearby market town which contains just one shop selling travel bags. Not a lot of choice there then. But choice makes me come out in a cold sweat, so perhaps that's just as well.

I found a lovely dark pink Kipling bag and despite the scary price tag, I had to have it, even though it cost nearly as much as my Eurostar ticket. It's so perfect and just the right size for a weekend away. The alternative would have been my 15 year old son's black school kit bag, complete with visible name tape. Not perhaps quite the image I'm looking for as I try to open my world up a little.

Today was spent washing, ironing and packing - not for me though but for my son. The reason I can get away for a couple of days just before the end of term is that he is going to CCF camp with a group from his school, so I get to holiday, too. Even if I don't go away when he does, and I rarely do, it still feels like a holiday as it's so unusual for me not to do the Mum thing. My oldest son turns 25 soon and I feel as though I've been doing this forever, although it changes all the time. Now I usually go out and about without any children on me at all, but once I couldn't move without all three boys hanging onto my skirts, often protesting vociferously. Who else was going to look after them? Even when I was married, my husband was in the City and had a mistress and was rarely home. No, I didn't know about the mistress until far, far too late. Silly me.

So being a single mum was always the way it was, I just don't have the illusion that I have a husband and that my sons have a proper father. My ex-husband came down from London tonight to take our son out for supper, because that is what he thinks being a good Dad is all about, and sporting fundraising posters for his local church in the back windows of his smart new car - good for the caring image. I handed him the leaflet about ASD which the doctor my son and I saw last week gave to me. A sort of potted version of the problems that my son and I face every day.  

He always made me feel that I had failed as a mother, that I just couldn't cope as well as other mothers. That it was all my fault. 

Monday, 26 February 2007


A fragment of conversation overheard in the swimming pool this morning; two middle aged ladies, tidily coiffed heads held high above the water, sedately doing breast stroke and discussing their holiday plans as we ploughed up and down the lengths.

"And then we're going to Lake Garda ... then on to Verona ..."

Middle aged + middle class + married = affluent 
Middle aged + middle class + abandoned = broke

So what do you do when you have been left holding the baby (in my case, three of them, all boys) with no husband and no disposable income to speak of?  How do you keep your end up, or should you just sink under the water and quietly disappear, leaving only a small ripple? I don't know quite where I belong anymore, where I fit in.

He left 10 years ago, my husband, although he had been absent for a very long time. We went through the motions. And I am just beginning to resurface and look cautiously around me, watching out for the sharks and the power boats. I'm not a strong swimmer.

So, I'm going to Lille for two days and a night. On my own, by myself, just me.  I'm really looking forward to it.  In fact, making the booking has given me a huge lift and I go around with a big smile on my face and a quiet sense of achievement.  I have a life, I have plans.  Actually, it doesn't really matter whether I get there or not, or even if I enjoy it when I do. What really, really matters to me is having a plan, something to look forward to.  Small steps.