Today I’m celebrating five years of single motherhood. The axe fell on my household on Bastille Day 2008 when we moved out of our family home to start housesitting. Adieu from that day on to an intact family and bonjour solo parenting. I’d been a married single mother before that but I didn’t know then how much the sisterhood would look after me, feed my kids, nourish my soul and build me up when I was down in the years that followed.
My new friends and golden old friends helped. And acquaintances with small doses of kindness; the man in the Indian takeaway who gave me free food to feed my kids; the stranger at a café who paid for my coffee, the neighbour who gave me a couch when we had nothing to sit on. I found more important people to love, especially the lioness mothers at the hospital who laughed with me despite their children’s suffering. I learned people are very kind. Raising children alone is scary but I know even when I fail I’m doing the best I can.
I love my life. My smart, volatile children and our cold house and the pile of fancy dresses begging to be taken to the dry cleaners, but I can’t afford it. I love all the imperfect manifestations of my life. I’m deeply flawed, but the only mummy they have. I’ll never be a calm, well-groomed mother and yet they love me to bits. Crazy children.
Mothers try to be strong, making sure our kids, friends, partners, families, even our goldfish know they’re loved. Sometimes, in the middle of my morning peak hour when chaos reigns, I step back from brushing my daughters’ hair, and laugh, sip my tea, sing along to the Bee Gees with jazz hands in the kitchen and think, ‘You are a problem child, but finally you are in a happy place.” Now I’ve had five years of freedom I seem to be enjoying myself. I know I’m not just going to get by, but live victoriously. Vive le revolution ladies. Here’s to the sisterhood: liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Aujourd’hui, c’est jour de la Bastille. Jacques Brel is my favourite French singer