Don’t Be That Parent.

Ok so Christmas is coming and  everybody’s making plans, presents to be bought, social events to be organised, party outfits to find (as well as extra cash) there are trees to decorate, all the food to buy, cards to write and let’s not forget that the true message of Christmas is, peace to all mankind.

Unless of course you’re a single parent trying to negotiate with your ex as to who’s having the kids and when.

This never gets any easier until the kids have grown up to be adults (yes it does happen) but this is the perfect time for some parents, and I’m going to say women here as they are usually, not always I know, the single parent trying their damn best to bring their children up as normal human beings, to use the kids as weapons and I can totally understand. If your ex hasn’t paid any money towards the upkeep of their own kids, only bothered once in a blue moon to actually turn up on a Saturday morning to take them to McDonald’s, never shown an interest in how their own children are doing in school, maybe caused a bit of trouble when any guy has shown an interest in you, maybe even started a couple of malicious rumours about you, introduced them to every single female that he’s been sleeping with then Christmas can seem the perfect opportunity for payback. It is very very tempting to tell these idiots that no, they won’t be spending any time with their own children over the festive period as they’ve been useless fathers all year and anyway you and the kids are going to be far too busy so there just won’t be any time.

Very tempting.

It’s probably safe to say that a lot of single parents have wanted to do this at some time, as it seems so unfair that you’ve had to put in all the hard work all year, so why should the absent parent get all the good bits? Your ex rocks up with a couple of tacky cheap presents and a huge bar of chocolate and the kids think it’s great and you’re having sleepless nights wondering how you’re going to pay the gas bill. Then your blood pressure’s going through the roof as he’s telling you he can’t take the kids on holiday as promised next summer as he’s already booked for Ibiza with his latest girlfriend so it looks like it’s going to be you and the kids in your grandma’s caravan in Fleetwood in the 6 week holidays. There’s no justice is there?

Just take a step back and look at the big picture.

By denying access you will unwittingly make your ex into a super hero. You will be seen as the bad guy as you’re the one stopping them having a relationship even though you might think you have good reasons. Children don’t usually know the ins and outs of why/how the relationship between their parents broke down they just need to know that it wasn’t their fault and that they are still  loved by both parents. Denying time spent with their father means that they won’t get to see the traits that you know (and hate) the less they see of him means they can put him on a pedestal instead of seeing that actually, he has feet of clay. Don’t threaten to stop him seeing the kids when he lets them down yet again and doesn’t turn up on Saturday morning (and you’re dealing with the fallout) because eventually the kids will see that he’s unreliable. Don’t threaten to stop the kids from going on holiday with him, or shopping, or Nando’s or any time he chooses to spend with his kids because you’re trying to protect them from being let down again, eventually they’ll work it out for themselves. They’ll make their own minds up but let’s not forget that you didn’t make this little person all by yourself, it did take two. As much as you hate it there is no way around it and there’s something you need to realise. The bigger picture means that there will be graduations, weddings and christenings where children will want both parents to be present, and even if you are not exactly best friends, hopefully you can be civil to each other if only for a day.

It’s hard being a single parent. It’s hard being both good cop, bad cop and not being able to say “Wait until your father gets home!” It’s hard knowing you have little people totally dependent on you for everything. It’s hard trying to be strong in front of them when you’re having a particularly bad week.  It’s hard trying to teach them a moral compass as to what’s right and wrong and it’s hard when you have no support from the person you should be having support from.

In return hopefully you will have the best friendship with your kids when they become adults, and if you’ve done your job right they will love you unconditionally  and when someone asks you “Would you change anything?”  you can truthfully answer “No”.   So in a way you’re in a good position believe it or not, which means as it’s Christmas and really you want to do the right thing I say this.

You can afford to throw your ex some crumbs from your table.

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As The Mother Of A Gay Son.

While the pieces are being put together as to why Omar Mateen decided to go to Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida and open fire on innocent people, let’s just take a minute and remind ourselves that although we live in the 21st century, being LBGT is not as tolerated as we all like to think it is. While it might not be against the law anymore to be gay, it doesn’t mean that society likes it, while a lot of people tolerate and even embrace a good night out spinning around to Kylie, the same amount (if not more) will actively voice their concern about “deviant behaviour”. As if.

When my son was born 30 years ago, it didn’t cross my mind for one second that he might be gay, I was just concerned that everything was working ok, all the usual stuff that new mums worry about, but it never ever crosses your mind that your child might be “different”. If they’re going to be different, it will be because they are smarter than all the rest of the class, become a brain surgeon, top class athlete, hell, even Prime Minister, but gay? That was never in the game plan. But mothers always know. Mothers notice little things that make you start to wonder, and then the worry starts, not that you weren’t always worrying about your child getting run over, falling off a cliff, being abducted by aliens, but this is a different worry. Because you know that your child will have a harder journey than most now, and whenever they step out of the door once they’re older, are they going to come home being beaten up after falling foul of a group of ignorant, homophobic bigots who’ve probably grown up in a household of hatred towards anyone different. It sickens me to know that there are people out there willing to give my beautiful boy a “good kicking” or even worse, when they don’t even know him. Not that anyone is flaunting it. Gay men are usually reluctant to be seen showing public displays of affection because of not being sure of people’s reaction, they know that for some people it is seen as a step too far to witness two men holding hands in public, never mind kissing, how sad is that? We haven’t come as far as people like to think we have, any LGBT person will tell you that.

As an older woman who is doing online dating, I’ve found that the main reason I’m single, (apart from the fact I’m too picky) is that a lot of men my age are homophobic. While some might pay lip service and say they don’t actually mind gay men, it’s usually because they don’t know any. That view sometimes changes when I say I live with a gay man, and have lots of gay friends, all of a sudden they decide they’re not really comfortable with that. And that’s fine. I need to know pretty early on what their views are as there is no way I can tolerate anyone who uses the words “queer”, “faggot”, “scum” and any number of derogatory words  to describe not only my friends but my flesh and blood. Absolute deal breaker.

So here we are. Fifty men shot dead for being gay and over fifty more injured, every mother’s nightmare as this is what every mother fears for her gay son, some idiot seeking retribution against something they don’t understand, or even want to. My heart goes out to all those mothers who have lost their beautiful boy for being “different”.

Some things won’t change.

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The Best And Worst Job In The World

There’s no hand book with instructions when you take on the most important job that you will ever have. Being a mother is many things, teaching another human being (almost) everything that they will need to know is daunting, exhausting, time consuming, and you will never be rich. In return though you will know love on a whole different level which you never thought possible.

So, let’s start with the fact that you’ll never have a lie-in ever again (unless they sleep out somewhere) and you’ll get to know the tv night schedules when you’re up pacing the floor with a baby that won’t sleep. On the plus side a baby will stay where it’s put until of course it starts walking and then you have to have eyes  in the back of your head which is when the fun starts. A toddler likes to form an attachment to one of the popular characters on children programmes which usually means a soft toy which has to go EVERYWHERE so god help you if it gets lost. On the plus side this is when Christmas gets more interesting as it’s the time to start family traditions in your house.

Once a child starts school you might feel that you’ve managed to get some time back for yourself but you’ll spend most of it worrying about what’s happening in the classroom. Does he/she like their teacher? Does the teacher like them? Are they making friends with the other kids/getting bullied/causing trouble?  And this doesn’t only apply to primary school, god no, you’ll feel like that throughout their whole time in education. Why haven’t they been picked for the school netball/football team when you know damn well that they are the best player that the school’s ever had.Why have they been overlooked for the main part in the latest drama production again when you know that you only need a talent agent to see them and they’ll be off to stage school before you know it. All these things and lots of others might make you lose a little bit of sleep at night but the main lack of sleep is one word.

Teenagers.

I would hate to be a teenager again, all that self hate, insecurities, hormones, doing stupid things, and of course thinking that you know everything. All of a sudden mums are embarrassing, know nothing, have no dress sense and please walk 10 steps behind when we are out anywhere. This can be a really stressful time as boundaries are pushed making you think that maybe there was a mix up at the hospital as this wilful, sullen, cocky, secretive  child can’t possibly be yours. You worry constantly about girlfriends/boyfriends, where they are, who they are with, what they are doing and what you can do about it. Showing an interest is seen as being nosy, when the fact is a mother not showing any interest is one who doesn’t care. Trying to keep a grip on what’s going on is hard, as half the time you won’t have a clue who their friends are never mind where they’re going. But this will pass. Yes you’ve probably gone grey, but if you can weather the storm the person on the other side is the beautiful, charming, kind, sensitive, generous adult that you can now relate to. But since the day they were born you will have asked yourself, “Am I doing this right?”

As for single mums I salute you. It’s difficult enough with two parents but when you have to be both good cop, bad cop the job becomes a lot harder, but here we all are. Another Mothers Day where we are surrounded by love, count your blessings ladies, how lucky are we?

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