Confessions of a single working mom
I was all over the place, running around like a headless chicken….Because I claimed the title “single working mom”..I felt I had the right to be really busy with work, that it was ok to take on side-jobs and that being extremely tired when I got home was perfectly understandable, after all, I paid the bills.
When my son would drag me to watch his favorite cartoon, I’d often tell him that I was either really sleepy or I was busy doing something else. There would be times when I’d come home way past midnight coz I felt I deserved a night out or two or three with friends. I’m single and I’m still young. I had the right to unwind on a week night, so cut me some slack, right?
I relied too much on the fact that my son was in school, and the teachers had the responsibility to teach him everything he needed to know. Then there’s my ever reliable nanay (nanny) — whom I was always jealous of. I would usually freak out when my son would rather sleep beside her, than sleep with me! It didn’t make sense, I was his mom! Hello! Plus, doesn’t he miss me?! I was at work all day while he was at school all day (with nanay!), why wouldn’t he want to cuddle till we both fall asleep? It just wasn’t making sense….or maybe I was just too stubborn to admit a lot of things when it came to being a mom.
There was this one time when someone asked me what my son’s favorite color was. Wow, that was a tough question. Then there’s that ever so repetitive question “what was his first word?” Yikes, I had no idea as well. I think I was either at work when he said his first word or maybe I was too sleepy coming from the graveyard shift. I just found myself so clueless about so many things about my son, including when his exams were and what food he liked and didn’t like.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my son to bits. I always have and I know I always will. But thing is, I fell into the trap that most working parents or single parents fall into. We’ve relied too much on school and our house helps. We have passed on most of our responsibility as parents to others, because we have to pay the bills. We think that just because by virtue of being the mom or the dad – that automatically claims that we’ve got a relationship going on with our kids. Yeah, ok fine, to some degree, as long as we get to interact with our kids, I guess we can claim that we’ve got a relationship going on there….but question is, what kind of relationship is it?
I knew that mine was….ok. Just that. Just ok. I knew it wasn’t the best coz there would be times when he’d come home from his dad’s and he’d tell me that he wanted to be with his dad and not me. Every single time he said that, it broke my heart into a million pieces. What was I doing wrong?!
It took me a while to figure things out. Simple because it took me a while to get my heart and my head in the right place. Trust me, if it weren’t for God knocking some sense into me and loving me so much, I’d probably be the same mom I was talking about at the start of this blog. Add on the parenting books I’ve been graciously given, plus lots of talks with Christian parents, I was more or less being geared up to find out what parenting is all about. As soon as I snapped out of the mentality that I was “broken”, that I was still “very hurt” (and well, the drama goes on) – my situation started to make sense.
From the kind of parent that gives her son everything he asks for (just to make-up for the time not spent with him), I became the parent that drew the line clearly. I began to think about rules he needed to obey and our agreements where If he’d meet his end of the deal, I would meet own up to my end of the bargain.
A lot of parents nowadays may disagree with setting boundaries for kids. One book I read said that we try so hard to be our kids’ friends so early on in their life, when in reality we can be friends with them when they’re in their teens. Right now (if you’ve got a pre-schooler like I do), we need to be their parents. We need to set the boundaries for them. I’ve read about this several times in different resources that kids who grow up with boundaries are those that are happiest in their teens and adult life. It actually makes sense, coz you know kids will push as far as they can. They don’t know the limits yet. If we don’t put any boundaries in their early years, then yes, you can expect them to push as far as they can go for as long as they can….need I say more?
I can go on and on and on about being the authoritative mom (not to be confused with an authoritarian mom) that I am, but that can wait for another blog. Coz I want to talk about what really really made the difference in my life and Kristo’s.
All it took was TIME together, both quality and quantity time. It started with a decision to step up and BE the parent and DO what parents need to do. No more relying too much on my nanny, and I even took the drastic step of being my son’s teacher.
A lot of eyebrows raised and many have said their piece about taking Kristo out of the traditional school setting and having him homeschooled instead, but I had a clear go-signal from God. It was a huge leap of faith for me, but it was well worth it.
Was I scared? Of course I WAS. Was I affected by what most people said? Of course I WAS. I’m not gonna lie and say that I had it all planned out. All I knew was my son and I NEEDED to spend time together. We NEEDED to get to know each other. I WANTED to learn with him and experience new things with him. I’ve missed out on so much in his early years, I didn’t want to miss loads more. That all sounds selfish doesn’t it? But you know what? If Kristo and I talk about these years when he’s a lot older, I’m sure he’d say that it wasn’t selfish at all, and if it is, I’m sure he’d say that it was well worth being selfish.
Here’s why. Ever since we started home school….
Mornings have been such a joy! We wake up to cuddles and kisses (except for those occasional mornings when we panic coz it’s already 9am!), then we talk about what to have for breakfast. Then we have breakfast together and talk at the breakfast table. Then we take our time in the shower (he now knows to bathe himself and I’m just there to rinse him — and to make bubbles with him) and then dress up. Then we either work on a floor puzzle or read a book or sing songs and sometimes we end up just hugging all morning. Oh dear me, that sounds like I’m a really bad teacher! But you know what? Because of the time we get to spend together, I have learned to be sensitive to what he’s really interested in — Science, Reading and Music. I know that he colors faster when there’s music playing in the background, specially if it’s rock music. I’m sure that his favorite color is now green. Quite recently it was red. He cares for his books more than his toys — literally. Like he knows where ALL his books are (and they’re all in great condition) but would have a hard time finding a toy (specially a toy that doesn’t need any form of repair!).
…Most of all is he has fallen in love with learning. That’s one thing that’s so obvious now. From being the little boy who told me several times that his school is closed or that it burned down or that they don’t have classes, he now asks me (specially when we’re at the mall) if we could study when get home! He has fallen in love with books, in fact, he refuses to sleep until I read him two or three books!
I think Kristo has fallen in love with studying because he sees that I have fallen in love with studying with him. I’ve encouraged him to ask questions about things happening around us and about things he’s curious about, because I started out explaining to him why it’s important to know this and that. Like instead of having him memorize the days of the week, just because he needs to, I explained what usually happens on each day — at least in our schedule. He knows that Fridays he goes to his dad’s place and that Sundays or Monday mornings he’s back at my place. He knows that Monday nights we go to the grocery store and we have our car washed. If he knows the days of the week, then he’ll know when things are gonna happen.
Our room is now filled with furniture and appliances that have been labeled with neon colored paper. Learning words makes more sense when you see what you’re learning. So now, in the morning or evening, I randomly ask him to spell “bed” or “mirror” or “chair.” In fact tonight when I asked him to spell “door” for me, he said “mom, I don’t need to look. Door. D-O-O-R.” I was thrilled of course!
Oh I can’t take any credit for the activities we’ve done and the awesome ideas I’ve just shared with you. I’m sure that God gave me these thoughts — and I’m glad that he’s my counselor in all this. After all, he knows my son best, so He’d know how I can teach my son best.
Oh, and for the benefit of those asking if I’m enrolled in any curriculum, nope I’m not. I was planning on doing that, but things didn’t work out (and I don’t wanna go into detail anymore), but I’m glad things turned out the way they did. Relax, Kristo is only 4 and a half. He was in traditional school since he was 2 and a half (and he was still in diapers). By age 4, he was already showing signs of being burned out. Let’s just say that we’re taking it easy this year, that I’m letting him be a kid, coz that’s what he is. I’m letting him enjoy this magical stage in his life, where he can just…relax and play and learn all at the same time. No pressure, no grades, no competition, no expectations to live up to.
I read in another mom’s blog that this stage is PRE-school. School starts in first grade. If I remember right, I learned to read when I was in first grade! I was in play school during my PRE-school. We literally just played all day, in school and at home! Oh those were awesome days!!! PRE-school is all about preparing them for school, by stirring up that love for learning, that love for reading and that hunger to know something new everyday — not because he has too, but because he wants to.
If you scroll up a bit (geesh, I’ve written a pretty long blog this time! Thanks for reading the WHOLE blog! Pat on the back for you!), you’ll see how I said I WAS SCARED and how I WAS AFFECTED by what people say. Ask me that now and I’ll tell you straight out, after 5 months of home school (which has turned into a lifestyle), I AM not scared anymore and I DON’T get as affected anymore by what other people say (I’m still sensitive at times), but I am affected because a lot of people have not gone beyond the fact that Kristo isn’t in traditional school. I am affected because I wish for people to see how amazing our relationship is now and how valuable that is from here on!
From the child that didn’t really show me he cared if I was home early or late, to a son that asks me what time I’d be home even before I get to leave for work. From the child that would cry his eyes out just so he could sleep beside his nanny, to a son who sweet talks me into not leaving his side after I read his books to him and hugs me ever so tightly to make sure I’d keep my promise. From the child who asks me to buy him this and that left and right to a son who asks, “do we have money mom? Can we buy one toy today?” and if I say that we only have enough to buy what we need, he’d say “ok, then let’s just look at the toys! Promise, I’ll just look” (trust me, these are actual conversations!) Again, I can go on and on and on about these changes….but bottom line is, a lot has changed.
So, am I the picture perfect mom that does everything right now?! Absolutely NOT. Parenting didn’t come with a manual, so I’m still learning…..A LOT. God is still working on me, BIG TIME.
Do I still have nights out with friends? Yes, I do, but I choose the night that I’m gonna be out. If it’s a really important event, I’ll still be there (usually, it’s after Kristo’s bedtime anyways, so I just leave the house when he’s asleep). Do I still work hard and take on side jobs? Yes I do, but I have learned to draw the line between relaxing at home and spending time with him, rather than staying out late because of a job or taking home work (not that I had to, I just wanted to, usually). It was about knowing my priorities and making decisions based on those priorities.
More than expecting him to act like my son, I have learned to be a mother…and from that, things have just fallen into place.
*Disclaimer: I am not against traditional school. He’ll be back in traditional school soon, but the difference is, now he’s prepared.