my solo act

One thing I had to learn to keep in my mind and in my heart is that no one can tell me how to do this job, and no one can tell me my choices are wrong or right when it comes to a solo act like mine. I have to weigh up the pros and cons of everything. Suing his father for maintenance or not; buying a house or renting for a few more years so I can afford private school; buying a new car or buying a second hand car; moving away from family to have a better job or staying close to my back-up… it happens all day everyday.
Going without so that I can provide for my son- I don’t think it ever stops… but that’s not what it’s about. My boy is a brilliant, intelligent, creative, well adjusted, sociable, likeable kid who is adored by friends and family alike.
It’s a lot of stress and we are after all, only human. I try never to let anyone tell me I made the wrong choice. As long as my baby is happy and healthy my choices and decisions can’t be all bad. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, its people jumping to conclusions when they learn what our little family set-up is. Like those people who assume someone who is blind must also be deaf and yell when they speak to them. And people who assume that my son was diagnosed with ADHD and is being treated with Ritalin because I couldn’t cope.
And there really are people like that!
Anyway, without my family I wouldn’t cope. They regularly tell me I have done well and they are proud of me and I try to remind myself of that every now and then.
Something I had to learn to do was plan ahead, as far ahead as possible. I started putting away money, as much as I could spare every month, and when I can, I increase it a little bit. I don’t ever decrease the amount I put away. It’s not only for Damien’s higher education but for me too, for emergencies or simply for a weekend away when I feel like I‘ve really had enough!
I know, I sound like I’m bragging, but sometimes I have to for ME. There are so many single moms out there and I wish I could tell them all that it CAN work.
In my case, my son’s father and his family consciously decided they didn’t want to deal with the scandal of an illegitimate child and a teenage pregnancy and such. I also felt that if I sued my son’s father for maintenance I would spend every other month in court trying to get the money owed to us simply because that’s the kind of man I think he was. I didn’t and don’t have the money for lawyers and legal fees to spend on trying to get a couple of hundred bux a month… which doesn’t even cover groceries or school fees. My family and I decided to go it alone with absolutely no contact from my son’s father at all- no money, no gifts, no visits, nothing. He agreed and that’s how it stayed. I am grateful to him for keeping his end of our bargain, but I still have nightmares about my son’s father arriving on my doorstep and demanding to see him. Since it’s been so long he doesn’t have a leg to stand on legally and I have less stress about that now than I did when my son was a baby. I have also never hidden from my son what happened. Obviously I tell him only what he can handle for his age and understanding. But he knows that his father and I were in love when he was conceived; that he looks like his father (a spitting image); what his fathers name is and that when he turns 21- if he wants to- I will help him track the man down (as much as I dread the idea, I am going to have to deal with it eventually).
I must be honest, what I battle with is “spoiling” my son- purely out of guilt of course I know- but I do tend to spoil him. I try hard to limit it to birthdays and Christmas, but I really have a hard time saying no to THINGS, like toys & take out (especially since I like them too). But discipline is a whole ‘nother area… I am very strict on things like age restrictions, caffeine, bedtime, good manners, tidying up after ones self, finishing homework and such like.
There is nothing tougher than raising a child – alone or in a regular family with two parents – and I wouldn’t recommend single parenthood to anyone- not even celebrities with lots of money.
That’s what’s on my mind today.

No Fairy Tale For Me Thanx!

Every now and then, one of my friends will say something about how the right man for me is “out there somewhere“. Or my house-church group will pray for me to meet someone “nice“. Or a person I have more or less just met will comment on me “keeping a positive outlook on relationships” and such like.
And my mom always worries about me still being single at 30+. At least she has stopped talking publicly about how she worries about me being all alone. She prays for me and that’s no problem.
Make no mistake- I love my family and friends to death, but why the hell is it NOT okay to be single? This isn’t the 1800’s!

Is it so absolutely impossible for people to believe that I might LIKE being who I am?

And it’s not only because I am a sceptic when it comes to romantic relationships- I am- but also because I’ve been a parenting solo act for so long that I couldn’t imagine changing my lifestyle to fit someone else into it now.

Ja, okay, I am a pessimist, not because of my parents relationship- they’ve been married for 32 years, and my grandparents were married for almost 60 years before my Grandad went to heaven. But other relationships around me haven’t all turned out well. They haven’t all necessarily ended as such- but those involving children are especially messy (as always).
Here are some sad examples: a family member of mine (who will remain un-named) married a single mom, adopted her child, they had their own baby, then divorced. The divorce and ensuing battle has been very ugly. He has since decided to annul the adoption and fight for custody of his own child.
Not that there wasn’t adequate reasoning behind his decision, but my issue is that the adopted child was always a “not ours” to some members of our family, if you know what I mean. And don’t tell me children can’t sense that!
Here’s another example: my sister married a divorcee who has custody of his two children. They also had their own child.
My issue- THEIR child is “special” because he’s “really ours”. Another family member (also remaining un-named) married a single mom, and as much as he loves her children as if they were his own- a few people have been heard to comment that they wish he could have “one of his own”.

NB! Not everyone reacts to other peoples children like that, but it happens enough to put me off completely.
And let me make myself VERY clear here- under NO circumstances will I EVER allow my little boy to be put into a situation like that and take the chance of him being hurt
emotionally.

The other side of my personal coin is that I have a problem allowing other people to parent and discipline my child. Not my family- I know my parents and siblings have similar outlooks to mine on child rearing standards. We expect the same sort of thing from our children so I trust their judgement. But strangers? That’s a WHOLE ‘nother basket of turtles! I honestly don’t like the idea of a boyfriend disciplining my son. The knucklehead must respect him as an adult of course. But why should someone have the right to discipline my son if I don’t know he’s a long term connection. And I can’t leave something like that until we get married, that will be just too confusing for all involved!

And let me add another side to my coin (I think that’s three now). I believe in my heart of hearts that when a couple is married, their relationship comes first. Their relationship with their children MUST come second. After all, when the children leave home the parent’s relationship must be strong enough to survive being alone together most of the time. My reasoning is this- I can’t take fourteen years of singular devotion to my son and set it aside in favour of a man who hasn’t been there all along. What kind of emotional hammering will my son take then? I don’t think any amount of counselling or explaining can make him think its okay.

Now you know what’s in my mind. Use it, don’t use it.