Here’s a shout-out to all the single parents out there… I don’t think everybody realizes quite how difficult it can be to work a full time job and also be a parent. I only have one child and it isn’t easy. But it is rewarding.
In December it will be two years since I got Josh back, and while we have our difficulties, on the whole life is good. He’s an affectionate child, more so than I ever was, and he wants lots of hugs and always tells me he loves me, and that he loves me more than anyone else. I’ve had to adjust to the hugs and cuddling, because I’m not that kind of person… I never told my parents that I loved them… never. (I did love them. Didn’t need to say it or hear it though.) I also don’t touch people and don’t like to be touched, but I think I’m doing OK now…
He is also a difficult child. I suspect that there are some fears of abandonment there underlying his need for validation, and those fears also present themselves in other peculiar ways. For example, reprimanding him when he has done something wrong can have the opposite result to intended – he’ll clam up and sit or stand in one place and refuse to move or do anything. He’ll decide out of the blue that he isn’t speaking to somebody, and will then not say a word but ignore them for hours or even days. He’s also stubborn just like his mother, and just like her, if he asks for something and I say, “No”, he will keep on asking, over and over, for several hours.
It’s also difficult to help him with his homework at the end of a week day when I’m tired, but since he often refuses to do his homework with my mother (despite my and his teacher’s efforts to have him do otherwise), I have no choice. I also have issues with the way his grade 3 teacher teaches him… He often does not understand how to solve his maths problems, and it shouldn’t be my job to teach him. Last week he had to pluralize some words in English, and he had no idea that there’s a rule for pluralizing words that end in “y”. For example, berry, cherry, ferry; all get pluralized with “ies”. My way to teach this would be to teach the rule, then you don’t have to remember all the words, only words that are exceptions to the rule. Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to spend an awful lot of time teaching him stuff that hasn’t been taught properly the first time.
But all in all, things are good, and despite the difficulties, I am loving being a parent to my son.
One thing that annoys me whenever mother’s day or father’s day comes around, is the way people are quick to acknowledge single fathers on mother’s day, and single mothers on father’s day. I don’t consider myself to be both a mother and father, or perceive gender-specific roles for mother and father, but think we should all do the best that we can. In any case, though single parenting is more difficult, I suspect that it is worse for a woman in the sense that women are judged more harshly by others. (Why?) There is no stigma attached to being a single father, but there can be for a single mother.
So when mother’s day rolls around, besides being a time for me to acknowledge my own mother, I like to reiterate to Josh that his mother does love him. (She does. And also we call her every night so she can say goodnight and he can speak to his sister.) The situation is not as simple as it seems… After Josh was removed from us because of our addiction, we tried for years to do the right thing and get him back. But he was fostered by members of my extended family, who judged her more harshly than me. Some of that bias in my favour and prejudice against her even crept into the court, and besides her eventually giving up on Josh and I, at some point she realized that if she stayed, there was a possibility that we would never get him back. Whereas I alone could get him back, and I did. Mother’s day is also a day to remind him that his mother is a person of colour, and though he doesn’t feel that he is, thanks to inheriting my pale skin, it is something that’s important. He has a heritage and another whole family that he doesn’t know. I hope that he gets to appreciate that more as he gets older, and also, I hope that one day he grows to understand that Megan did not abandon him… She left so that I could get him (as well as for other reasons – she’s no saint) because together, my family would never have let us get him back.
Edit: Just got a weird call because her family told her I “wrote about her on Facebook”… For the record, and I thought it was clear, I’ve stated above that Megan does love our son and she did not abandon him (and I hope one day he can understand that fully – but he’s still too young to “get” the raw deal his mother got), and that one of the reasons she left was because she realized that together, we would not get him back due to the reunification process being unfair. It wasn’t as simple as that, because in the end, I had a better history of maintaining a relationship with our son. So she attended at court when the decision to end foster care was made, and agreed that our son could go to me. It broke my heart after all the years of trying to get him back and not being able to do so together, but I had to respect the decision of the court, as well as appreciate her difficult decision to have him return to me. This isn’t ideal. It isn’t what I wanted. I still remember the day when she gave birth to him, and our time together when he was a baby before it all fell apart. She is not a bad mother, and I miss her, but I have to make the best of the situation as it is now.