Tag Archives: single parents
Oh yeah, it’s been like forever since I posted!!!
I’m having a ‘moment’ right? Usually I get kinda embarrassed and skate past it if people try to make me out as a ‘hero’ for doing the single mum thing. You do what you do right? And I’m not a hero. I am flawed and fallible, I am a big wuss when it comes to moths and deep water and riding down hills…
But…I was trying to explain to my mother tonight this wierd thing I’ve had lately where my chest has been feeling ‘tight’. I thought I was sick. Cold? Asthma? Ribs growing too quickly? Then it occured to me that it happens right when I’m pondering how I’ve got too much to do and not enough time in which to do it…this led me to try to explain what I had on my plate…
And for real? I raise a child with a double diagnosis of developmental disorders (new Doctor Seuss title?). I do this on my own and have since he was a baby. He was a baby when I was twenty. I was twenty having grown up in pretty working class areas, little money, little hope, bugger all in the way of examples of functional caring relationships, fuck all ideas on proper nutrition etc. So I grew up with him. I learned how to cook/clean etc. But being twenty I had nothing…no degree, no proper employment experience, no idea of what I wanted to ‘do’ or ‘be’. I had been working since I was fourteen, but casual retail work. How the FUCK was I going to make a good life for the two of us?
So anyway…I guess I can’t be arsed covering all the bits in between – a breakdown of that ten years includes little sleep (insomnia is NOT fun), less money (it’s better than poverty), lotsa headaches, backaches and illness,lotsa worries,lotsa study, big moves, a vow off of relationships til I could be sure I wouldn’t date such pricks (long periods of celibacy are also unfun), lots of shitty jobs and shithouse bosses and a couple of school changes - and will just skip to now. My son’s eleven. He’s doing really well in school, despite the fact that the wheels fell off in a big way a few years ago for him. I have a degree in Arts, and am halfway through a degree in Law. I have a permanent job in a law firm and increasingly I am realising how much I’ve learnt there, and how much experience I am getting that ordinarily you get upon graduation.
I have managed to get a degree (will have two by the time he’s say fifteen) and find gainful employment, I have managed to avert the impending crises caused by my son’s anger issues which were a part of his disability, I have moved to an area I love from an area that was killing me, I pay a ludicrous amount of rent on a stupidly small income, I cook and eat well, my son reads voraciously (I like to think I had a little something to do with that with my own love of reading and my own animated readings to him of Harry Potter et al), has a great sense of humour, is interested in everything, tries new things, is teaching himself Photoshop and computer animation (and apparently this week Spanish). He knows he is loved, he is independant and clever, I DEFY him to have hangups about sex, he knows that other people exist – he knows about poverty, about racism and sexism, homophobia and discrimination. He can analyse any form of media, he loves good cinema, he talks back to advertising and he speaks his mind. He has adult role models of the very best kind I can imagine, teachers, postgraduate students, managers, protestors, authors, poets – people with imagination and intelligence who aren’t afraid to use those assets. I surrounded myself with good friends…and managed to stop dating pricks.
I came home today and my chest began tightening. My final essay for my current subject is due. In around two weeks. Plenty of time, of course I’ll get it done – but I’m exhausted, I’m totally fucking shattered. Because I am living more than one life. Work all day, study at night, a house to clean, shopping and cooking to do, friends to see, a family to keep happy, a relationship with a great guy and all this while I am the primary carer of a child with disabilities (not to mention the fact that it takes considerable time to invest in “looking good”, and Im kinda embarrassed to add that in, but you know, choosing outfits, personal grooming, makeup, hair – this shit takes time). When I spell it out like that, even I occassionally think I might just be a little bit awesome.
I’m beginning to ramble and lose what ‘point’ I may have had to begin with…but it’s not that I’m trying to say “I’m superior” or “I’m such an excellent person”…just that well, this good stuff didn’t fall from the sky into my lap I have worked my arse off for this, I have had to fight for every inch of ground I’ve gained, and there have been times where i thought it would kill me, times where I thought it would all come undone, times I couldn’t see how I was possibly going to pay the bills, times where I felt like a mess and a failure - and looking at then and now in such a stark way brings clarity to how far I’ve come…but I don’t want to lose the sense of seeing how I was working towards this with every single choice I made, every chance I took along the way. Our lives haven’t ended up this way by accident, they’ve ended up this way because of the choices I’ve made and the priorities I set. And because of a truckload of luck and race privilege.
Having said all this…I’m kind of a bit uncomfortable here, because any glib pronouncement of “Hey – I am great” ignores the fact that while for me, on an individual level I worked my arse off and saw some rewards, that that’s a narrative of heroism that can only take place within the context of certain privileges…I’m getting a bit uncomfortable with the lack of marking of white privilege in my blog in general, and this post in particular. If I were an Indigenous woman who had had given birth at twenty…with no resources behind her…I just imagine that it may have been quite a different story because I know I would have faced far more hurdles, had far bigger fights on my hands. It’s late and my brain is mushy and this is a serious point, and I really think it needs to be another post, or several. I just didn’t really want to leave it all ‘La di da, I’m so great’ without acknowledging that I’ve had opportunities others would not have had. I cannot imagine how things would have ended up for instance, if my son’s asthma were as bad as it in fact is, but I did not have the same level of medical care I’ve had. I cannot imagine trying to cope with my son’s issues without early intervention strategies and the help of a good childcare centre and a medical profession that mostly respected my parenting abilities.
And now, since it’s so late, I cannot wrap this up in any intelligent way, so I’ll just have to stop typing.