A regular feature of Wikizine: read Belinda Scott's experience as a, recently divorced, single mother of 5...
I am recently divorced, and a mother of five children, all under the age of 16. I am very much enjoying life as a single person, and as a single parent, though this is not without its trials and tribulations.
One of my biggest problems in adjusting to single parenthood in a larger than average family, was adjusting my cooking quantities from gargantuan, to a more ‘pan-liftable’ quantity. I say problem, as this caused major concern for my level of fitness, as I was no longer requiring the shot-putters arms I had developed from years of lugging and carrying heavy bottomed pans (we had an Aga back then so needed solid based pots and pans) and therefore watched with some sadness as my almost middle aged, but still well toned arms, turn into delightful ‘batwings’ as the muscle and definition slowly left them, to be replaced by something I can only regard as wobble. If there wasn’t such a term for flesh as wobble, there jolly well is now.
Now at my age, one doesn’t take lightly the effect of weight gain, and likewise, the loss of exercise and such routines. Especially now my little ones are not so little and would require a small crane to lift and carry them (another reason for strong arms!) And thankfully none require much more effort than a touch of bribery to get them to go here or there. So my exercise is limited to pushing my hands into handbags for loose change, and doling it out to children who seem to be developing pound signs for pupils.
Exercise doesn’t seem to be an issue for my bunch of monkeys, who are at this moment swinging from the tree in the front garden. I do have to keep telling myself that the tree can cope, especially when I can clearly see it would probably be happier in next-door-but-three’s garden, where a nice older couple, without children, reside. However, the tree does keep them (my children, not the elderly neighbours) busy, and out of my hair, as long as it’s not blowing a gale/raining/hailing or whatever unseasonable weather we are experiencing at any one time in any given hour of the summer holidays.
Speaking of hair, I’ve had the usual run of extra family visitors this summer, which has meant the purchasing of 6 large bottles of conditioner and super strong head-lice combs. The good news is that I was able to convince my eldest that maybe this was a perfect opportunity for him to (please God, please) have his haircut. I mean, I love him, I really do, but it was becoming past a family joke that he resembled a bush with wildlife and the odd leaf/twig in his fine main of coconut fibre-like hair. So, armed with electric clippers we created something of a style he seems to be comfortable with. Rather like pine needles from real Christmas trees, I am still finding his hair all over the house some weeks later.
And like all good connective paragraphs, my mention of Christmas elicited a silent groan from me as we are coming up to silly season again. In days of old (i.e. when I was married) it was customary for me to begin the Christmas gaieties in September. This was predominantly because I had so many people to buy for and, also, because I enjoyed looking for suitable and thoughtful presents for his family and mine. This year I am hoping to have time on Christmas Eve to stuff a few oranges and nuts in the bottom of hopefully hole-free socks as purloined from the ‘odd sock box’.
This won’t be my first Christmas as a single parent (it’s actually my second) but it will be my first shoestring budget Christmas. Maybe this will be the year I finally get down to making home-made Christmas cards with carefully crafted and painted potato peelings in the shapes of delicate Christmas trees and baubles (please don’t try this at home children, your mother really wouldn’t be pleased), and perhaps I will master the art of a Home and Garden style festive season on a budget of 1 pound and 54 pence a day, per head, of course.
I have mentioned money but I am sure you’ll be pleased to know I wont be mentioning it again, well, not today at least. Far more relevant has been spending a day at home with my children. I did have a driving lesson this morning and my eldest son looked after his younger siblings, and as usual, I came home to a peaceful house. Why is it when I am not around they seem to work together like cookies and cream, yet the second I set foot in the house they reach fever pitch in their bid to inform me that so and so needs to be sent to their room (no dear, I really can’t send our elderly neighbours to their room for asking you to not leave your bike right across their path when they sorely needed the access for their mobility scooters).