I have written a lot about the challenges of motherhood – single motherhood especially. As I put up posts like missing in action and this shit just got real, I worry that should I, or my son, (or really anyone) look back on this blog in years to come and think that this is the whole story, then it would paint a very bleak picture. So I want to tell the other side. The good times.
As a blogger, I talk about my life. But my life has many sides, it’s not a flat screen staring out at you; it’s many layered and multi-dimensional. Yes, the pain and anguish I describe is true and feels like a constant, but there is more to it that that. Yes, the loneliness and craving for human connection undermines many of even my happiest moments. But those happy moments are missing from this picture I am painting. So today I want to share those.
Some mornings when we don’t need to be anywhere we just snuggle in bed. I tell my son our bed is a boat and ask him where he wants to go. We row to Thailand and he goes exploring for elephants (and sometimes brings back a lion). Then we row home again in time for breakfast.
Sometimes I get the arts and crafts out and make butterflies that hang in the kitchen. I help my son squeeze all the glitter glues into a big glitter blob and then smear it across the paper.
Some days I push my son on the swing till my arms ache. Sometimes I stay in the park as the rain starts to fall and let him jump around barefoot in the puddles because it looks like a hell of a lot of fun.
Sometimes I’m so patient with him that it catches me by surprise and I smile to myself, like when I let him walk to the big park although I know we will get there much later and I actively encourage his dawdling on the way home so he can enquire about the hub caps and key holes of all the cars we pass.
I take him swimming every week. We go early and I do lengths with him on my back (horsey) or on my front (boat) – he gets to choose which. Afterwards I let him shower to his heart’s content in the free hot water.
I let him run around barefoot in the garden after its been raining because he loves it. Then I carry him straight into the bath to save my carpet getting ruined.
I cook him healthy meals *almost* everyday (well, as long as frozen pizza and/ or cereal counts) and make ice cubes and ice lollies for the hot summer days.
I give him approximately 73 cuddles, 108 kisses and tell him I love him at least 317 times every single day. When I ask him how much does mummy love him, his answer is, “too much”.
When we are in the house, I let him chose what he wants to do – jigsaws, dollies, building blocks, he names it. I make intricate marble run contraptions over and over again and sit back and enjoy as he watches in awe at how the marbles go through the runs.
I painstakingly fill the paddling pool by filling bucket after bucket of water from the kitchen and traipsing it through the house to tip into the pool. I give him his own little bucket and fill it too, although it prolongs the process, so that he can know he is helping. On really hot days I jump in the pool fully clothed with him as soon as he suggests it and splash around too.
I read him his library books repeatedly. Even the ones I can’t stand (although I have been known to do an abridged version). Often times over his breakfast in the morning.
I take him to activities in our area – art murals, music groups, free festivals – and arrange to meet up with friends for lazy afternoons playing together.
Some evenings when I feel like we both need a bit of air I get out the bike, put him on the back and cycle out to the nearest stretch of ‘countryside*’ and together we feed the horses and soak in the evening light.
I answer his questions of “why?” with as much detail as I can possibly muster without making shit up. I’ve got him some encyclopedias for Christmas from the car boot so that I can answer all these questions better in times to come.
I regularly collect things for him off freecycle, so he has clothes that fit and ‘new’ toys to play with. I find him things from next to the bins and scrub them clean before presenting them to him (it’s a thing round here to leave stuff next to the bins knowing full well that others will take them – it makes the whole freegeling thing a little less messy).
I run him big hot baths and let him splash around until he’s done, sometimes it’s ten minutes, other times it’s an hour. Then I wrap him up in his towel and cuddle him till he is dry while he snuggles up and tells me he is my teddy bear.
I sing and count him to sleep and let him curl up next to me in bed. When he screams in the middle of the night because he is scared of the dark, I turn on the light and soothe him back to sleep. The other night as I lay there with him, I closed my eyes, smiling. When I opened them I saw he had scrunched up his eyes tight, trying to copy me. He kept opening them to check on me (and I would too) until we were both smiling more and more with each peek over at the other.
These, and many others, are the beautiful moments that get me through. These are the wonderful experiences that bring me joy, and they are only growing as he does.
Son – if you are reading this in years to come, I want you to know that though times may be hard. Though the house may be a tip. Though mummy may be a mess, I still made time for you. I still nurtured you as best as I could. And, though I am sure you will know this, every single day I have loved you as much as it’s possible to love a child.
*By London standards.
If you like this post you may also like my post on Why I’m Glad My Son Is Being Raised By A Single Mum