choices

All posts tagged choices

If only hindsight came first

Published July 3, 2012 by KalamityK

Did I make the right decision only having one child? I always wanted more than one. When I was young and before I had any kids, I wanted about 6. As I got older and realised what having children actually entailed I lowered my goal to 2 or 3. But in the end, I had just one. I used to joke that I wasn’t crazy enough to do it again but really, the opportunity didn’t arise. I wanted my child so badly. I’d previously lost two babies due to miscarriages so he was my third pregnancy. Third time lucky!

I split with his dad when I was pregnant. I was 21. I really didn’t choose very well. I was too young to understand that his dads’ lifestyle and history meant he wouldn’t be a good father, and if I’m honest, I didn’t think it was all that important. I was proud and arrogant and stubborn. I could do it on my own. I didn’t need a father for my kid. After all, I was born to have children. It’s all I’d ever wanted. I knew having babies was my destiny. Sounds daft now but it made sense in my silly young head. I never wanted anything else.So I had my son and I raised him on my own from the day he was born. Except I didn’t. Yes I was a single parent but I wasn’t raising him alone. I had my parents, my family and my friends to help me out. When it got tough they helped me. When I ran out of money they helped me. When I got sick they took over. When I got a job, they looked after him and picked him up from school so I didn’t have to fork out child care costs. No way did I raise this kid on my own. I had post natal depression too so without help and support from the loved ones in our lives, we would have been doomed. I can’t thank them enough.

As he grew up, I began to understand just how important dads were. When the manchild reached 6 years old, something changed in him. He became uncooperative and naughty. He refused to do as he was told. He was blatantly disrespectful and disobedient. But here’s the critical part… he was only like this to the women in his life.  My son needed a dad. His real dad had left the country just after his sons 2nd birthday and couldn’t return due to his immigrant status.  So I asked my dad and my brothers to step in. They got on board and spent time with him, taking him swimming and to baseball practice and doing other boy stuff with him. It worked. He responded well to the male input and soon we had our little manchild back to his fun self. But it showed me that children, particularly boys, really do need their dads. They can manage without them but they do better with them. It was wrong of me to decide I could raise this little boy without a father and my biggest regret will always be that I chose badly for my son.

I’m not saying all dads should be involved in their kids’ lives no matter what, or all mothers for that matter. Some parents just aren’t fit to raise their kids and can do more harm than good…. But where possible I am a firm believer that children do best with input from both mother and father IF both are capable and dedicated to loving and raising their children responsibly. If I could I would shout from the rooftops to all the girls who think they can do it alone, STOP! It’s not about YOU. It’s about those babies and it’s unfair of you to not even give them the chance of having two parents! Should the dice roll so you end up a single parent, fair enough but PLEASE don’t do it by choice. Your child deserves better!

Extended family does their best and everything they do is extremely valuable but nothing quite fills the boots of a father like a father. Whether that is a biological father or a man who willingly steps into that role isn’t necessarily important. My dad has done everything for me a father should and he chose to marry our mum and be dad to a 5yr old and an 8yr old. He didn’t have to. My son needed a father to show him how to be a man. That was something I could not do, no matter how hard I tried.

I watched some of my friends produce child after child. They gave their first child siblings but with no thought to stability and no fathers. I thought it was irresponsible. I did not want to bring another child into this world without being in a stable relationship. That relationship didn’t happen and I wasn’t willing to raise another child with no father. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right.

Rightly or wrongly, I also wanted my children to be the same colour. My son is mixed race. I’m white, his dad is black. Maybe that shouldn’t have been important to me but it was. I didn’t want him to feel like the odd one out because his skin colour was different to the rest of the family. (How ironic that he now feels different to the rest of the family anyway). So until I found a good, decent black man to settle down with, I set aside my desire for a daughter, my desire for siblings for my son and got on with trying to raise the manchild to the best of my abilities.

He was a great kid. Everyone loved him, adults and kids alike. He was kind, compassionate, caring and very funny. But sometimes he was lonely. His first cousin didn’t arrive until he was 8 years old so he was the only child in the whole family until then. We didn’t live near his school and I worked til 5pm every weekday so it was impossible to have friends back after school. I didn’t drive and couldn’t afford to learn so we were trapped in this grotty little flat above a stinky butchers shop. The only way out was a 30 minute bus ride into town on an unreliable bus service, then another bus to our destination. It would take well over an hour to visit anyone. Getting home could take 90 minutes or more unless we were given a lift. I had to be mum, dad AND friend to him.

His dad had been in contact here and there over the years and he was due to go stay with him in France for a week. Unfortunately, after weeks of building up his excitement, his dad cancelled the trip right at the last minute. His dad also had a new baby at around the same time so when he phoned to tell me that he couldn’t afford to have him over to stay, it was a bit of a slap in the face, especially as it was left to ME to break the news to him. He didn’t have the balls to tell him himself. He broke my child’s heart. I heard it break.

After that, the manchild started having real trouble at school. He got in with the wrong crowd and started smoking weed. He stopped caring. Hell, after that he became the wrong crowd! His hormones kicked in and he shot up in height and in strength. And he got angry. There was a red hot anger simmering underneath the surface, waiting to explode. That combination of height, hormones and hashish was not a good one. He didn’t just go off the rails; he jumped off them and ran riot.

I had always tried to be a good mother and maintain the contact between the manchild and his father. No matter what I thought of him, I believed it wasn’t my place to stop them having a relationship. I was never going to be one of those mothers who use their child as a weapon. Seeing him at 6yrs old needing his dad meant I tried wherever possible to give him his dad. I even took him to Holland and France so they could spend time together. Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing there too. Should I have kept them separate and cut all contact?  Overall, considering the damage that has been done with half-hearted attempts and a lifetimes worth of broken promises … maybe the manchild would have done better with no father at all.

It’s hard to say because my friends who were single parents to one child where the father had little or no contact have had different outcomes with their kids, but they had daughters. A mother bringing up a daughter is different to a mother bringing up a son. I have one friend who also had a boy to raise on her own and his life also involved a promise breaking father and my friend is now going through a similar experience with her boy. Is it really so different for boys and girls or is it the broken promises and constant rejection from dad that makes the difference? And what difficulties do single fathers have bringing up daughters compared to single dads bringing up sons?

Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent there but everything that’s happened is the reason I didn’t want to bring another child into the world without a good father in situ. What if I had more children and things were as crappy for them as they had been for him?

Although the manchild doesn’t think any of this has anything to do with his choices from then on, I believe it played a major part in what happened over the following few years, including his eventual run-in with the law. I suspect we might always disagree on this but that’s ok; I brought him up to think for himself, to be an individual.

Now, the only siblings the manchild has are on different continents, speaking different languages.  He’ll probably never know his older Spanish half-brother who we think lives in America now and whether or not he maintains contact with his younger half-sister in France currently depends on him communicating with his father, a man who has no real importance in his life after everything that has happened. In a few years she’ll be on facebook and maybe he’ll be able to keep in touch that way.

Well, what’s done is done. I can’t go back in time and make wiser choices.  I can’t make different decisions. I don’t have a time machine to fix the mistakes I made along the way. I did what I thought was right at the time.

I worry for his future with no brothers or sisters. I’m sad that he’ll never be an uncle unless he marries. His extended family will have to come from whomever he chooses to settle down with. He’s 18 now and growing up, maturing. We’re over the worst and we have lived to tell the tale. I can only hope he has learnt what NOT to do when it comes to being a father himself one day. And I hope he has more than one child.

Wrong Relationships

Published June 7, 2012 by KalamityK

I wrote this a while ago but wanted to share it here.

I’m generalising here but being a single woman about to hit 40 and also seeing so many of my female friends still single and desperately wishing they weren’t, I wonder where it’s all going wrong. What is happening to the world… to men… to women… that makes finding a good man to have an honest relationship with so near impossible. Fair enough, sometimes relationships just don’t work out because the chemistry isn’t there or whatever. It happens. Those aren’t the ones I’m talking about. It’s the ones that start off dishonest that I’ve got a real bee in my bonnet about right now. There seem to be so many of them. I’ve been on a lot of dates over the past 10 years and met many blokes whose mindset is one of self-gratification and sod anyone else. Here are just two examples of recently failed relationships out of many that I know of.

The first example is of a man who, despite proclaiming love and wanting to settle down, just lost his girlfriend because of all the lies he told early on. He lied about everything when they first met; his married status, his kids, his whole history, even his name! Problem is, she didn’t find out til much later and now that he’s fallen in love with her, it’s too late. More forgotten lies come forth and despite having feelings for him, she just can’t trust him. Why couldn’t he just be honest in the first place? If he didn’t want to be in his marriage, then maybe he should have ended it before starting with someone new. Where’s the solid foundation for a relationship built on lies? It never existed and therefore the relationship got broke. She’s left feeling sad and lonely and he’s left feeling heart-broken and guilty. No-one wins.

The 2nd example is of another man who threw away the chance of having a good, faithful woman to love him, because he couldn’t stay faithful to her… In fact, it turns out he never was. It took her a long time to let him close and he put the effort in for months to get that close. Why?! If he was seeing someone else, why did he bother chasing her for so long until she agreed to that first date? Again, why not end what he was involved in and then pursue her? If he was never looking for love and just wanted some ‘fun’, why not find someone who was just after the same thing? His lies also came back to bite him on the arse. Now she is left broken and confused and feeling like she just wasted years of her life on him. Trust for the next man in her life will be even harder for her to find.

What does this do to the men, to the women, to any children involved with whom they’ve built relationships? What must these kids think about relationships in general? What lessons are they learning from seeing what their parents are doing? How can they trust that the people they form attachments with, will be around in 6 months… a year… .2 years… Why should they bother getting to know them and accept them? Are daughters learning to be mistrustful of men? Are sons learning to treat women with little respect? Are kids losing respect for their own parents because they see them not respecting or valuing themselves enough to walk away the first time they know they’ve been lied to or cheated on or hit or whatever?

Do these men really want relationships? If they do, why on earth can’t they see that they’re just pushing the self destruct button? If they don’t, then why lead these women on? Are they really so selfish that using someone else for their own gratification doesn’t matter to them? Do they not realise that actions have consequences? Where are people’s morals? Where is the empathy and compassion for others?

I know people often tend to get more selfish as they get older, I do myself, but I cannot fathom why these men start relationships with women they know are looking for love, when they already have girlfriends or are married or in some cases even have boyfriends, or maybe don’t want a relationship at all. It’s pretty obvious early on when a woman is looking for more than a quick fling, and there are always plenty of people to have flings with in this day and age, so taking someone who wants more and using them in that manner is, to me, appalling.

I normally try not to be judgmental but damn it, it makes me so angry to see these men using women so casually…. and to see women allowing themselves to get used again and again… so quick to forgive and dish out 2nd, 3rd, 4th chances because anything is better than being single. Guess what girls? THAT ISN’T LOVE! Yes love can hurt sometimes, we all know this, but it’s not supposed to make you miserable!

Women, PLEASE have some dignity! Wake up and realise you’re better off single than to be with someone who doesn’t respect you. People can only treat you badly if you let them. Get rid and they can’t do it anymore. Aren’t you worth even that? How many chances to find the right man are you missing out on whilst you’re busy being ‘in a relationship’ with the wrong one?

Men, have some respect!. Just be honest if you’re not looking for anything serious. Don’t let it get to the point where she falls for you. Imagine it was your sister or your mum that some other man was leading on and disrespecting. It would save so much heartache and bad feeling if people were a bit more honest about their intentions when it comes to relationships. Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear…because I promise you, if you don’t mean it then we really don’t want to hear it. .

Now, I know that there are good men out there so please don’t think I’m tarring all men with the same brush. I’m not. Maybe I’ll even find one for myself one day but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. I don’t think my expectations are too high so unless I meet a man with similar values to me, I am better off and happier on my own. I hope other women, whether single or in wrong relationships, find enough self-worth to feel the same way.

Kalamity K x

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