Life as a single mum

Posted Wednesday 29th April 2015   By Ericka Waller

So I’ve been doing my normal morning thing. Plaiting hair, making packed lunches, changing sheets. I’ve paired up socks and dug crisp packets out the heating vents. I’ve retrieved three pairs of knickers from the trampoline and scraped five dog poos up off the lawn. One looked like it was giving me the finger, just to be extra offensive.

It’s not a glamorous life, nor is it rocket science. I’m a worker bee. I buzz about, but I don’t get any honey. My chores are simple, plain and repetitive. They do not challenge or stimulate me. There is no ‘clocking out’ time or sense of achievement at the end of  my ‘grot work’, there is simply more.

When the girls come home, a lot of the work done gets undone within seconds. Lids fly off pens. Biscuits are ground back into the rug. The parquet flooring is pulled up to be used as a jigsaw. Abandoned pants and sweaty socks lead a path up to the garden where another (phallic looking) dog poo awaits me. One worker bee, three queens to work for.

Mine is a quiet life. A simple life. I chide, I cuddle, I calm and I compromise. I do the bits of parenting that no one else wants to do. The telling them off bit, the time out rug bit. The ‘you might be able to act like this when you are at so and so’s house but here you tow the line’ bit.

There is a scene in Mary Poppins, where the twins and Burt are having a tea-party with Uncle Albert. They are laughing so much they float up to the ceiling, tears of mirth wet on their cheeks. They can only come down if they think sad thoughts. I often feel that I am the sad thought bringing my children back down. I am their gravity when really I’d like to be their wings.

But a mother’s job is not that of the magpie. I cannot only do the shiny bits. I must do the dull bits, the dirty bits. The hard bits. And even though I never wanted to, I do them alone. And when these jobs are done and the sun has melted like a candle, when the children having finally given into sleep, I go to bed alone.

There is no praise waiting. No one knows how hard I worked, no one was is there to see. No head-to-toe chats on the sofa over tea. No ‘you turn out the lights and I’ll turn the key’. No shoulder to rest a weary head on. No one to check downstairs when the dog growls or leap on when the thunder claps.

But each day I work is a stitch in my girls cloth. I am making them a blanket to spread under their feet.

I am raising daughters, I am making mountains.