You are 18.
I didn’t leave you at the supermarket or lose you at the beach; you didn’t bolt so far that I didn’t track you down eventually.
When you became a teenager you sprayed enough deodorant to kill an elephant and when I complained you replied,
“What does it smell like?”
“Like a teenage boy trying to hide odours in their room.”
“That’s exactly what I want to smell like mum.”
What a force of nature you are cyclone Arch. In the womb you kicked the shit out of my ribs. You couldn’t wait to get out. Now you enjoy staying in bed.
A few months ago when you screamed late at night, I said,
“Did you have to do that?”
And you said,
“Did I scare you mum?”
“Your whole life.” We laughed.
I raised my baby to adulthood.
Happy 18th birthday my Menace. I’m glad the pill didn’t work
Laugh with best girlfriends
Verify your identity
Embrace single motherhood
Pay all the bills
Find all the thrills
Bring home the bacon
Find app to block people in real life not just social media
Eat fruity wine and fruity fruits
Rage against the pale stale males in government
Stand up for girls
Find someone to collect my emotional baggage
Dance like instagram is watching
Drink tap water
Pat the cat
Thank your knees
Eat all the cheese
Hunt and gather
Educate people on the difference between your and you’re and he is and his
Sing like I’ve got 45 million YouTube followers
There comes a weekend in every mother’s life when we have to put on bad music, trample on the walk on wardrobe AKA floor-drobe, cough our way through crusty bits of rubbish and throw out the last remaining bits and bobs of our offsprings’ childhood. That weekend has come for me. There will be no more Hello Kitty pencils, no more craft that comes home saying I luv u mummmy and no more genuine joy at seeing me at the school gate.
I am emptying the unfinished projects into the bin and opening old One Direction pencil cases and finding handwritten notes from their friends. These painstakingly produced jottings were all written at the age when my kids were discovering the magic of writing a heartfelt letter to a beautiful new friend:
Dear Senny, I thik youre really specil and I reallly lik your shoos. I had funn wen we went to the pak and i now we wil be freinds forever. lov you
I’ve been a single mum for 10 years, so there are many jobs in my house that are being tackled well past their use by date. Despite our multiple moves, some special stuff was placed in boxes and carted from new address to new address. The perfectly unused birthday present textas from the seven-year old’s best friend in the hole world that were saved in the back of the cupboard for special occasions have been dug out, the lolly wrappers that she didn’t want mummy to see, beside the half-dressed dolls with real nail polish on their hands. I put together a box of nostalgia, thinking that my last teenager would be remotely interested in the lost cuteness and innocence of her childhood. She came home from a day out at the hideous local shopping trauma centre and said,
“That’s my stuff, what are you doing?”
“We need to chuck out.”
“No, I’m too busy.”
A few short weeks ago she sobbed because the Easter Bunny hadn’t left her an elaborate trail of eggs in our shared yard on Easter Sunday. But now she’s watching make up tutorials on how to copy the subtle facial contouring of the Kardashians on Youtube. She actually wants to look like a Jenner. I’ve failed as a mother. What the hell will I keep from this phase?
We say I love you, and if we’re still together on Boxing Day, Easter Wednesday, the day after the kid goes back to school we may survive as a couple by detaching from your teen’s nightmare behaviour
Your son looks like Elvis but he sings like a drunk footballer
I adore you but your brother’s second wife’s extended family will poison me slowly with their frozen coleslaw
I’d really like to grow old with you but your son’s new girlfriend has a voice that curdles milk and I can’t bring myself to help you raise her kids
Your touch is tough to resist but the complaints from your mother and her coven of neighbours about my cooking have reduced my brain capacity
You soothe my jangled nerves but your child’s penchant for snakes is a reptile too far
I really like your daughter but another netball match will kill my will to live
I love you but I can’t add another mother in law to my collection
Shakespeare described step parenting best:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom
Cyclone Senza exploded into my life 13 years ago, after I’d been at the hospital in drug-free childbirth hell for 25 minutes. She couldn’t wait to get the party started.
Or trash our house. She has painted on the walls of every place we’ve ever rented. And they’re good paintings, so I can’t get mad. Senza leaves a creative mess in every room she enters. It would be easier to parent her if we lived in a castle with four maids, a butler and a housekeeper.
My girl, you are the funniest person I’ve ever met; entertaining, smart, animated and kooky, you have only two gears, full throttle or passed out on the floor You struggle to use your inside voice but your astute observations about supposedly mature adults are always worth hearing.
Looking at a box of unpaid bills you said,
“Mum, that is a box full of nightmares.”
You are physically courageous; you surf, swim, climb trees, duck and dive. You’ve had breathtaking bodily self-confidence from the moment you were conceived. And you have a kind heart. This year you cared for babies in a Thai orphanage like they were your own family.
You are fast, furious, full of attitude and love for your friends, and easily bored. I hope your adventurous spirit takes you all over the world. You run head first at life, without fear. Your courage is everything I wish I could find in me (but with less back chat).
You kid, are everything. In your adolescent angst phase, don’t let teen bitches, dopey dudes and unenlightened teachers snuff out your fire.
Happy 13th Birthday to my beautiful hurricane #teenager
Happy Mother’s Day! Single mothers will now have to provide ‘verification’ of their relationship status in order to claim Centrelink’s Parenting Payment Single. Single mums who leave parenting Payment Single and then return to the payment will also have to send the Human Services Department a photograph of themselves sitting alone crying into their one glass of Aldi wine on a Saturday night.
“From 20 September 2018 new claimants seeking Parenting Payment (Single) or single parents claiming Newstart Allowance will be required to have a third party sign a new form verifying that they are in fact single, then we can tattoo their scrawny necks and microchip them before we release them back into the wild,” the government announced as part of the 2017 Budget this week.
To be rewarded with vast sums from the government’s welfare-bludgers’ prize pool, I will have to find someone whom I don’t want to share the horizontal tango with, to verify that I am in fact raising my children single-handedly. I’m really not sure who I’m going to ask to help me with this. Will it be the merchant banker who picked me up at an art gallery and then took me on an incredibly boring date? The 22-year-old man working at my local servo who thought if he gave me a free juice and a bag of chips, that I’d go on a date with him? The guy who sent me ‘sexy’ pics of himself late at night on Facebook while his wife was asleep? He may be my best choice. Hopefully, he’ll get confused and tell the authorities that he and I have been shacked up for years with my children, his kids from three relationships, our cat and a feral budgie. Apparently, the penalty for making a false declaration is up to 12 months in jail. Which could mean I’m in for a nice break (Wentworth prison here I come) from mothering and working if my dreamy battler beau brags about our imaginary sexy times on social media.
“This is offensive and deeply disturbing,” said Terese Edwards, chief executive of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children.
“Who verifies? Do children get asked? Is there a neighbour watch alert? This is a slippery slope back into the dark days. I’m proud of our single mothers, they are doing a damn good job and don’t need the burden of Government prejudice.”
Terese is right, single mothers are doing a damn fine job, they’re the hardest workers I’ve ever met. But I quite like the neighbourhood watch idea as I’m a bad picker. I could have a panel of people telling me if I’m going out with the wrong dude. My neighbours could shout out to me, “If you bring that guy home, we’ll tell Centrelink,” and I’d be dissuaded from making a bad move on Tinder. Happy Mum’s Day from the Liberal Government. Scott Morrison what a generous man you are, you have saved me from a lifetime of bad relationships. I think I’ll stay home tonight knitting myself an old cat lady chastity belt.
Fights, tears and 210 hours of Monopoly later, I’m in a school holiday daze. I’m the head of my children’s entertainment committee and the acting head of catering but I’m looking forward to retirement from both those roles. Cooking is a chore and shouting, “get off the bloody computer” is becoming dull.
I have run out of low budget activities and if I read one more clean wholesome nutritious paleo educational fun advice for the latter part of the school holidays post on social media, I’ll scream at the smug happily married financially savvy yummy mummies who write them. Sigh. Next week I return to the tyranny of the school run. So much to look forward to in 2016. Today I am turning up the Ackadacka and dreaming of escape.
There are so many parenting books telling us confused time-poor parents how to raise our rugrats that mothers like me get lost in the blur of DIY parenting manuals. As a shortcut, here’s a few parenting strategies I’ve picked up in my 18 year journey through smotherhood:
Sycophantic soft soaping
Bubble wrap parenting
Single mothers take a portion of each one and back off. If we don’t let our children raise themselves we will end up mummy-fied
A is for Attitude. You’ll develop it after years of single motherhood
B is for Breeder’s regret, as in I picked him to be the father of kids? What was I thinking? Breed with a man not a boy
B is also for Bribery, a helpful device in the single mother tool kit
C is for Can I share custody with this man in five years time?
D is for Don’t know how you do it, translation: I don’t want your life, it looks too hard
E is for End of summer, a day celebrated by single mothers whenever children go back to school after months of holidays
F is for Frustration, i.e. speaking to any government department about collecting money for your kids from your children’s father
G is for Glamorous, what single mothers become when their offspring visit their father
H is for Halloween, lots of free lollies for your deprived children
I is for I’m a single mother this week, what coupled up ladies say when their partner is away for more than two days
J is for “Just wait ’til you become a mother.” Frequently said by single mums to their kids
K is for Know It All Children AKA other people’s children
L is for Long ago and far away I used to be young, free and sassy
M is for Mothering Monday, the second Monday in May. Easily the best day to receive bargain flowers, soap and sympathy. Boxes of sweet fancies go cheap on this day.
N is for No money until pay day
O is for Oh My God, tinned spaghetti again?
P is for Perfect families, fictitious people who make children of single mothers envious
Q is for Queen of budgeting
R is for Red Cordial, what you give your kids when they’re going to meet your ex’s new girlfriend for the first time
S is for Sanity, what you lose when you become a single mother
S is also for Schooligan
The little rat in your kid’s class with parents who insist their child is a saint
T is for Teens, the beasts your kids turn into before they become lovely adults who thank you for your sacrifices
U is for Unbelievable, the amount politicians think you can live on
V is for Vinnies, the clothing boutique of choice for most single mothers
W is for Wild side, staying up past 10pm on a school night
W is also for Would, as in I would talk to my ex but I don’t speak moron
X is for Exhausted, permanently
Y is for Y did I choose to live like this?
Z is for Zone Out: what single mums do when married breeders talk about their cleaner