Being a mum is one of the hardest jobs to do, but when you are a single mum it has it’s challenges. Even though it is rewarding and beautiful bringing forth life into this world, I didn’t think that I would be taking on the role of both parents. As I juggle with a full time job, running errands and maintaining our home… This leaves very little time for myself. Simple pleasures were to be put on hold – Welcome to the life of many. For me I had to adjust to having quick showers, sit down dinner had turned into a quick bite whilst cooking, along with many more exciting trials and triumph. (That’s just with one child). When I became mum for the second time, I thought about my own mum and what it must of been like for her. It bought back memories of my childhood and how my sister and I were bought up in a single parent household. My sister and I lived with a few relatives in our time, so not the best childhood memories to re-live. I am a firm believer in breaking generational curses, so with that in mind I spent years trying to give my daughter (first born) every opportunity to try different things in order to find her purpose even at such a tender age!
Age 2-3 she took part in ballet recitals, age 4 – 8 drama club – stage coach productions. She is also extremely sporty. Now age 9 – she has developed a love for YouTube. And I encourage this, as she needs to explore every avenue to find her passion and purpose.
As a child I felt lost with no direction and purpose. I lost my mum at a young age, R.I.P Mummy – I felt that it played a part in why I was not given many opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I was looked after, but nothing beats the love of a Good Mother!
Let me introduce you all to the pain in my backside… I mean my children LOL
They are all smiles in these photos, but as siblings they fuss and fight all the time.
At the beginning of lockdown (Covid-19), I sat with my children and had a conversation about what is happening around world and why we have to stay home. My daughter age nine understood to a certain degree. We made a plan to look at this lockdown process as a chance to bond and spend some quality time together. (We didn’t have a choice). Work and school life meant not many hours in the day to embrace and enjoy being with each other, now was perfect time. All was well, we had a schedule… We would make time for work and also time to have fun (indoors). My daughter came up with an idea to have Karaoke every Thursday, this lasted about four weeks.
My role as a Nursery Teacher to children up to the age of four plus, I am expected to have patience and yes in my work life I do, but I promise you this it has taken some serious prayers for me to cope with my two. More so the past two months. I guess spending 24-hours together has made me see a different side to my children and myself – ‘I am referring to their behaviour and the level of attention they have for school work’. whilst questioning my so-call patience. Now this isn’t so much about Jay, he is only three so we spend time painting, scribbling and listening to nursery rhymes on YouTube. I try to teach them that in everything you do, ‘You have to try your best’. I would often self-reflect on my parenting skills compared to that of how I was bought up. ‘I wondered – am I too soft or too harsh’. I grew up around elders so manners and respect goes along way – If I wanted something I had to ask. I had chores and other responsibilities, there was no way I could tell my parents, aunt, grandma and whoever was looking after me ‘No’ or ‘I’ll do it in a minute’. I would have had a clap around my head for even thinking it.
Now what I have noticed with my children in this modern day lifestyle, they have had it so easy and perhaps I am to blame… because I was so busy doing, I did not give them much room to do for themselves. A few weeks ago I gave Kal a task to complete some work she had received from school and not to leave the table until it is done… I put the timer on my phone just so Kal knows I mean business. I then said “Once you have finished with your work and all is correct you can join us for a movie” Kal found every excuse to leave the table. It went a little like this – Kal: “I need the toilet”, Kal: “Mum can I have a drink?” Kal: “Mum what does this say?” This went on for some time, until I lost my patience because I could tell she was stalling and was looking for an excuse to see what her brother was watching on the TV in the next room. Now I know my child is smart, however this jealous behaviour she has towards her brother tends to get her into trouble.
After speaking to Kal and explaining, “The longer you stall, the longer you’ll stay”. She began displaying some attitude… Then the comparison began- Kal: “Jay gets to watch TV”. The whining got louder, then the tears started. Kal: “Jay gets all your attention and I don’t get any”. Me:”Hmm OK little girl”. She continued to compare herself to her brother. Let me take you back real quick, family used to compare me and my sister all the time and I hated it. So that is something I don’t do. I mean ‘How could I’? they are 6 years apart. Okay lets continue… Now Kal was told several times to calm down! I found myself doing a lot of unnecessary talking especially when I had said previously – “Once you finish you can join us”. Having to repeat myself several times was irritating me. When she had finished (she got most correct not all) and as i began to set things up for our movie I asked Kal to help her brother, her reply was “He can do it himself”, then it was “In a minute”. Before reacting I asked myself, “What is it that I am doing as to why this child is showing me this level of disrespect? “This child ain’t got no damn manners”.
I gave her ‘the look’ and she hopped to it. Then I thought Mel-“You have made things too easy for these children, stop trying to compensate for their absent father”. I’m not saying that I’m a push over by no means, it’s just hard when you are your only back up! So I set myself some goals to take control over my household. I know I cannot afford to take my eye off the ball, and as my daughter gets older I have to teach her about life, love and ego. Also my expectations of her is exactly that ‘My expectation’. I have to teach her to expect more from herself. There is an ‘old Jamaican’ saying, “Two women can’t live under one roof”, I am starting to see why. LOL
That evening after putting Jay to bed. We sat down and I asked a question. “Can you explain your behaviour”?. Her response was – Kal: “Sorry I didn’t mean to be rude”,-I love Jay, but you spend more time with him and he is very irritating and I just can’t take it anymore”… “I wish he was older so we could play the same games”. If I was Jay’s age you would spend more time with me” I Listen and she continued to open up about needing more time with me and feeling left out. I thought ‘Oh my, that must of been hard to say’. I waited till she stop speaking and reassured her plus gave her a big hug and kiss. The relief on her face said it all. Poor child having that on her shoulders. I did not realise how much my little cuddle time, giving Jay is bath or lifting Jay up when he reaches for me was secretly bothering her. Still does not excuse her behaviour but I understood.
Feel free to share your stories, and tips on how you have coped, we can all help each other.
It has been a few weeks since – I have heard her fussing with her brother and having her occasional mumble under the breath. My response to this was to say what I have always heard growing up. “Not under my roof you don’t”… What I have come to realise is how similar we were, as in our facial expression when upset, body language and even the tone used when upset. She had been mirroring me this whole time. (Reality check)-, remember my blog “I am not a product of THAT environment” Lets just say my senses came back to me, I had to switch up my response to cool, calm and collected. Took her aside and had a mature conversation about her behaviour while acknowledging that she had been modelling me. Now what I noticed when having this conversation was how much I have sheltered her and although she has common sense, once again I am expecting her to know it all. But this is due to the fact I had to grow up so quickly. Kal on the other hand does not need to grow up fast. The opportunities she has received means she is free to be a child. And yes children are stubborn, they want and think they know it all, but at the end of the day we have to allow them to recognise their flaws and learn/ grow out of these behaviour. Also we as parents need to be careful of the attitude we display in front of them!
Five tips for Single mothers or mums in general:
1) Develop a Routine – Routines are crucial for children, because them knowing what to expect gives them semblance of control.
2)Accept Help – Alone time is a must, get someone you trust family or friend to keep the children. Use that time to go for a walk, shopping, café, park. You need alone time.
3)Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline – Communicate clearly how discipline will be handled, mean what you say, and say what you mean.
4) Stay Positive – When the responsibilities of motherhood becomes overwhelming, stay focus on the positive things in life. such as, health, family and friends. Maintain a sense of humour, don’t be afraid to be silly, and have fun.
5)Treat kids like kids – Being a single parent it is tempting to rely on your children for comfort, or sympathy. but your kids are not equipped to play that role for you.
Growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school, as long as you put in that work, time and effort into knowing what your child is doing/ learning, your child will excel well in life.