The truth is, every son raised by a single mum is pretty much born married. I don’t know, but until your mum dies, it seems like all the other women in your life can never be more than just your mistress. ….. Chuck Palahniuk
I went looking for a mother quote the other day and found this and at first, I was outraged. I thought to myself, hmphhh, here we go again, making the stereotypical clingy, single mum the villain of the piece or the butt of all jokes. Then I read it, over and over and over again… and I realised, it’s completely true. Now, I’m not trying to do the them vs us game in single mumdom, but I think Chuck who wrote the quote meant the single mum who has raised her kids by herself. Not those who have remarried and raised the kids with a new partner but those who became a single parent for whatever reason and stayed that way.
It hit me like a ton of bricks, why some of my sons’ ex girlfriends have been so threatened by me that they’ve tried to cause trouble and alienate my sons from me. They felt that THEY were the third wheel at times rather than me being the interloper. Suddenly instead of feeling the frission of annoyance I usually get when I think about some of the “tensions” in the past, I feel an empathy for these girls.
You see, I never meant to be that important in my sons’ lives. Oh okay, that’s a lie. I always intended to be important.. but not so important that there was no room for anyone else. The fact that both my sons have met gorgeous girls is indeed proof that there is room for their Princesses.
Then when this was all processing in my brain, I realised that to a degree, this is also the reason I have stayed single all these years. I didn’t need anyone else to help me share the load or be my partner in the big decisions. I already had two of them. I never wanted them to feel too responsible for things but when you are on your own, you rely on each other. Of course the decisions were generally mine, but I owed my boys the respect of asking them about stuff. They shopped with me if I was buying something for the house. They made decisions about where we would go on holidays and what we would have for dinner. They were my sounding board. No man could ever be to me what my sons are and I guess I’ve always made that clear without realising it. Now I still think it’s a very natural way of thinking however I guess it’s off putting for anyone who has ever wanted to be a large part of my life.
I never set out to be a single mother to two sons. I thought I’d get married, have three or four kids and live happily ever after. Life doesn’t always go to plan. Instead my marriage broke down and my daughter was killed and I was left raising sons on my own as well as caring for (and being cared for by) my Mum. I understood Aimee. She was so like me that it was easy to “get” her. The boys were like aliens. They looked like humans, they spoke like humans but they acted like aliens… at least to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I would always have laid down my life for all three of my children. That has never changed, but I struggled learning how to find a common area when it came to raising sons. Lachlan was only 5 and Stuart only 3 when I was thrust into the single parent game, so I had to teach them how to be men. That’s not an easy task when you’re a woman. Don’t ever believe it is. There are things you don’t realise that you need to do. Teaching them to pee standing up is just one of the weird tasks you need to teach them. Children learn so much just by watching and emulating their parent.. but what happens when they are watching and emulating the opposite sex rather than the one they were born into?
What do I know about being a bloke? Nothing! Okay, I was raised with 7 brothers, so I learned to play football and I could rough house as good as the next boy. I never learned the enviable tasks of being able to burp and fart on cue like they could. I don’t remember my brothers being taught how to change a car tyre or use power tools.. Were they ever actually taught to hold a door open for a lady or did that just get learned by watching? Most of my brothers are great husbands and fathers so however they learned, they soaked it up.
I realised that my sons didn’t have that influence around them to learn from. They were being raised in a household with two strong females as the leaders. When Aimee was alive, she was the most dominant out of the 3 kids too, so how could these boys ever hope to become men when they only had women to learn from?
After Aimee died, whilst I’d never really understood the boys, I held them tightly to me, terrified of losing them too. I became the constant in their lives. The one person who was still there. Everyone else who they lived with had gone. We went from a family of 7, my dad, my mum, my ex husband, me, Aimee and the two of them. Dad and mum both died, my ex husband left and Aimee was killed. It was suddenly just the three of us. We were all terrified we may lose each other so we clung tightly. With that clinging came an understanding (finally) of who they were and a love so strong it will last well beyond me.
I taught them to use power tools as we restored furniture together. I played rough and tumble with them when they needed to get rid of pent up emotions. I coached their basketball team while the other fathers sat on the sideline complaining lol. I taught them about responsible drinking and safe sex. I taught them how to drive. I taught them to have respect, to open a door for not just a lady, but anyone who was there. In short, I taught them to be men.
Understandably, over the years, I’ve had very little respect for men. I had the best repertoire of men jokes. When Lachlan was about 13, he got annoyed and reminded me that he and Stuart were going to be men and I shouldn’t be so sexist. Okay, so they taught me some lessons too. I had to learn to respect men because I was raising two of them.
Admittedly, they are very sensitive men. They watch chick flicks as well as action movies. Just Like Heaven with Reese Witherspoon is a favorite movie of one of them ( I won’t say which one of them). They cry, they are affectionate, they are happy to say I love you. They can cook, iron and do all the other stereotypical “women’s” jobs. They are just, all in all decent young men.
I used to worry that so much female influence would make them unsure of themselves and they have both expressed that feeling over the years. They never felt like they could be completely happy being men as they had been taught (sometimes by osmosis) to celebrate feminism and the power of women. Thankfully they have both realised that there is a place in every man’s soul for both the blokey side and the sensitive side. A truly well balanced man embraces both the yin and the yang… the masculine and the feminine…. the gentle and the strong.
I read another quote today.. It says “I know enough to know that you should never marry a man who hated his mother”. Good advice I think. A man who loves and respects his mum should have a good attitude towards women. It’s a win win situation.
Happy loving… Livvy 🙂