Watching Jamie's School Dinners again, which means another rant. You know kids are getting so constpiated on fast food diets they're throwing up shit? Literally?
Anyway, did the food rant. Instead, something more appropriate to mother's day, really.
Okay, being a single mother. It's tough. I don't question that. You need the ultimate in organisational skills, especially if it's a young kid.
Personally, I beleive the key is discipline. You can't spoil a child when you're short on money. You can't let them get away with everything if you're not there to pick up the pieces. You can't do everything for them when they're going to have to be independent later in life.
My father died of cancer when I was six, and my sister four. Obviously, my mother was grief sticken. Two weeks later, her father died, also of cancer (which he had been fighting for six years).
That's tough, and you can't tell me otherwise. My sister and I didn't see it, though. I can't tell you if that was a good or bad thing, but I do know my mother couldn't afford to go to pieces. I'm not sure if she had returned to work, or had been about to, but she hadn't worked at all while she had kids at home. So that's two kids at infant school, a bereaved mother to support, low/no income.
For the first thing, we always had healthy food. Pizza and ribena were what our friends ate at home, friends with both parents. No cheap food. No microwave food. No fast food.
She worked, though she always picked us up from school. No nannies or au pairs, though occasionally family and friends. My father's death had paid off our mortgage (I'm not sure if that was the mortage or the will), which obviously helped a lot, but there was still all the other bills and expenses. I never noticed being short of anything. We never seemed to get less Christmas presents than our friends, or lacked in any way. I don't doubt that she went short herself on several occasions, but I think a lot of it was good economising. Simply, we weren't spoilt. When you get used to not getting everything you ask for, you only ask for what you really want, and your parents know you're serious about wanting it. I never threw a tantrum, though my sister did a few times. Not, I think, over any material things. Usually it was not wanting to walk any more, or go to bed, or after a fight with me.
That's another thought - walks. We went for lots of walks. Around the village, and out in parks and woods further afield. We never went to theme parks or anything like that. Holidays were spent with family, going for walks in a new place. This wasn't a single mother thing though - this was my mother inflicting her childhood on us, which she'd been doing since we were old enough to stick in a buggy and wander around the Arboretum. I can recognise a lot of different plants and animals. I can't match my mum, but I'm better than I lot of people I know, which I didn't realise at the time. I was shocked to find out one of my flatmates couldn't tell the difference between a male and female mallard.
Okay, so that's money and food. What else? Well, she went to University as a mature student. I even went with her one day. She started a relationship that entered it's tenth year in 2004. She's moved through several successful careers: office help, yoga teacher, conference organiser, and soon holistic therapist. Her degree, randomly, was in History of Ideas, which relates to none of them, but she enjoyed it immensely. I remember helping her print out her 40 page dissertation.
Neither myself nor my sister went off the rails, which I think is important. Being a single parent does not excuse terrible kids. I'm definitely the 'good' one of us, but Clo's hardly a bad girl. She may like the look, but she's not so rebellious at heart. Clo's dyslexic, which mum helped with and fought for her to get special needs help, especially in exams. She paid for me to go to a private all girl's school to further my education (I was on an assisted place, which shows that money still wasn't easy). Neither of us ever went short of anything, neither of us were ever spoilt. The other girls in my year got £40 a month. I got £2 a week. The difference wasn't obvious.
Both Chloe and I were considerably better off than a lot of our peers, in several ways. Certainly, my sister knows a lot of kids from really tough family backgrounds. We weren't short on money, thanks to the government, my father's provisions, and my mother's hard work. Our mother made a point of being at home as much ass possible when we were, always cooking a proper meal and spending time with us. I know some people can't afford to do that, which is fair enough. I do think there are alternatives which don't involve strangers or no one at all.
Harry was probably the main force of discipline, once he came into our lives, but I don't remember any problems before that. He came in rather gradually, since he kept having to go and work in Wales and the like. He was certianly far stricter than mum, but my sister tended to get the worst of it due to her sulks. He trained her out of that. Mostly. ^_^
I think it was organisation that pulled us all through. Mum worked out her life so she was always around, but still managed to bring in enough money to keep things 'as normal'. A lot of people try to relocate blame when their familes aren't like the perfect ones on tv. It's the kid's friends, or TV, or the departed significant other. It's not their own absence, or tendency to be weak willed, or laziness. Yes, being a single mother is tough. It's not impossible.
So hearhear for single mums, mine in particular.