Major events are often not taught in school history classes until after some years have passed. Whether politically, socially or emotionally, it’s just too sensitive to address straight away. Looking back too soon can be harmful. There is very much a season in life for looking ahead and focussing on what’s in front of you. It’s in the makeup of our self-preservation mechanisms.
For a long time this mechanism has been on overdrive for me. Each time I looked over my shoulder internal alarms would spring to life reminding me that it was still too raw. Now, even though those glances still sting, the alarms are more gentle and just remind me where to keep returning my gaze to when I’m done thinking about how far I’ve come over the past 3 years.
Becoming a single mum was absolutely the most overwhelmingly scary and loneliest time of my life. On top of the emotional upheaval there was the practical side of life. My family lived 2 hours away, almost all mutual friends quietly crept into the shadows, and I suddenly had a household to manage. Solo. When you’ve been part of a double act for over a decade you don’t quite know what to how to be a one-
manwoman-band. And when fear strikes in such an immediate and acute way, it doesn’t always process logically. The mind and the heart take turns to switch to meltdown mode.
I’m only 30. I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. I’m going to end up one of those cat ladies.
What do I do when he takes his tools? How will I be able to fix anything? Who am I kidding? I don’t know how to fix anything, tools or no tools.
How did this happen to my little family? My little bears. We’ve broken them.
I’m pretty sure I can remember some Taekwondo if there’s a burglar.
I remember in the first 24 hours, having scrubbed and cleaned the house to within an inch of it’s life (because that’s what we do in crisis,right?) what brought me to my knees were the bins. Maybe it was because it was a realisation so soon after it all happened, but it was the first thing to really hit home. It had never been my job. I didn’t know which bin went out when. How could I not know something and have relied upon someone else for something so simple? I felt like I’d failed before I had even begun to try and keep things going for me and my two little girls.
At the time I felt I was well and truly drowning. I felt like a fraud when friends would tell me I was brave because they didn’t know I kept the lights on in the night. But looking back I did develop some pretty kick ass skills when I stepped up to the role of mamma and papa in our newly altered household of three.
Spider Management. I have to confess that for years, this is how I dealt with our 8 legged intruders.
The receptacle which happened to be the handiest at the time would remain there until it was removed by the then man of the house.
I didn’t have that luxury anymore so I needed to woman-up. I remember the first time I needed to do it and one of the little bears was crying that there was a huge spider in the corner of their room. I got some loo roll, held my breath, clenched my bum and just did it. I’m not going to say it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. My back was dripping with sweat and once I disposed of the squished spider (sorry spider lovers, needs must) I retreated to my bedroom and quietly sobbed. Nevertheless, she came, she saw, she conquered. I am woman, hear me roar.
Handling a rolling pin; like a ninja. Other single parents may disagree because we have all had our own very unique story. But for me the night time was absolutely the worst part. Juggling everything in the daytime was a welcome distraction from the huge changes that had turned our little world upside down. Gritty
stubbornness determination propelled me to overcome new challenges. But at night everything stopped. The girls would be sleeping soundly in their beds and I would be looking to the long and eerily quiet hours ahead. Not only did I keep the lights on, but I brought a TV up to my bedroom and kept that on all night too. The noise was a comfort and it was a buffer against the silence that made me jumpy.
And I slept with a large rolling pin underneath my pillow.
I don’t remember why I chose the rolling pin. Maybe I grabbed it one night and crept up stairs with it, ninja-style. In hindsight there are other household objects that would have made far better weapons of choice. His golf sticks were still in the garage at the time. Granted, I wouldn’t have been able to fit it under my pillow but it would have been highly efficient with an aggressive swipe. Or I could have gone all biblical and kept a collection of stones by the bed to lob at a burglar. The rolling pin it was though, and despite it’s unconventional use as a weapon I got pretty smooth with my techniques and would not have liked to have been someone who got in my with that in my paws. Yes. I did practise my kung fu with the rolling pin.
Making friends with my breakdown cover. In those first few months I think I left the car headlights on and ran the battery flat on average once a week. And every time I did it I would rest my head on the steering wheel and berate myself.
Woman, are you kidding me? Again?
My little bears would ask why we weren’t moving out of the parking space.
Mummy, really? Again?
There was a time I had a tyre blow out with the littlies in the car and I handled that like a boss. There was another time when I broke down on a roundabout and I handled that… Less like a boss. It was literally on a roundabout. The police showed up with his blues and twos and towed me to the other side of it because ‘apparently’ I was causing a nuisance to other drivers at rush hour. Awkward. I was mortified. The little bears thought it was hilarious.
However. Despite my subconscious efforts to completely annihilate the car I still managed to work it out each time. I always ended up getting to wherever I needed to be. Mostly by being organised with numbers and paperwork for Breakdown cover and getting to know their operators very well.
I failed a lot. I didn’t eat or sleep much. The oldest little bear got a note from the Tooth Fairy saying it had been a busy time and she’d be back the next night when she had restocked her treasure. I walked with my head down when I should have been proud of what I was managing alone. Because I was (just about) managing it. I got the little bears to school on time. I did the parent evenings and the swim classes. I was the one who stroked their sweaty foreheads when they were poorly and snuggled them when they had scary dreams. When there were whispers about my marriage in the air around me I made sure there were whispers of love in the air around my girls.
I just wish I could go back and give myself a bloody big high five. I’m not in that situation anymore. I’m doing life and taking on the whole parenting thing with Mr C and I’m grateful that he takes on the spiders now. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and that can be so true for my time as a single momma.
If you’re a single parent please accept this as a virtual pat on the back. Keep going. You’re doing the hardest job in the world. I salute you.
Mrs C x
If you’ve not been over to my new Facebook Page, be a dear and go and give it some love 🙂
This has been reposted to link up with: