Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On being a single mother (for a week)

One of the women in Zac's went into labour in the early hours of last Monday (3rd). I'd agreed to go and look after her 18-month-old while she was in hospital so at 2.30 am - when Husband had finally heard the phone ringing and woken me - off I trotted. I thought I'd be there 24 hours, 48 at the most. I came home yesterday evening - 8 days later.

I'd forgotten how wearing it is to have a constant shadow especially when that shadow didn't like to go to bed in the evening until past my bed-time. But even worse than caring for a toddler was coping with a coal fire. My granny, who kept our home fire burning until she was in her 80s,  would have been ashamed of me. I'm afraid my language deteriorated slightly. I fear Toddler's first word may be 'crap', in which case I shall deny all knowledge. 

It is pleasing to know that, though I may have let down my granny, Great-auntie Vi, who could swear like a trooper, would have been proud of me.

With no internet access and mobile reception intermittent at best and seeming to depend on which way the wind was blowing I felt cut off and in danger of being swallowed up by the world of Mr Bloom, Mr Tumble, Mike the Knight and the inhabitants of 64 Zoo Lane.

Over on Facebook I listed a number of firsts for this last week; the list included burning my finger with a cigarette lighter. I hope that is now explained. Next on the list was being chased by a gang of swans, geese, ducks, seagulls and coots. It had seemed a good idea to take Toddler and the old bread to feed the birds on a nearby lake. How was I to know they would surround me and try to take the bread out of my hands? No amount of squeaking or saying, 'Shoo! Shoo!' while backing away deterred them so I ended up flinging slices of bread in the air and running. (By the way, Toddler was parked in his pushchair at a safe distance away in case anyone from Social Services is reading this.) 
Next came shopping at Lidl. It seemed appropriate, given that I was living on the east side, to pay a visit to the supersaver store. I managed to resist the cheap Belgian seashell choccies but gave in to the freshly-baked Tiger loaf, which was delicious.

Taking Toddler back and for to hospital (on the west side of town) to see his mum gave me plenty of opportunity to call into home for an occasional shower and brief respite when Husband took Toddler out in the pushchair. I could not have survived this week without Husband who is a truly wonderful and generous man. I'm also very grateful to Wendy and Vincent who stopped by on Saturday evening to give me a break.

On my forays home I usually remembered to pick up clean underwear but, at the end, had to wear the same knickers for two days. Shudder. I thought about taking Toddler to playgroup but couldn't face it knowing I was wearing old knickers. 

That was the final thing on my list but I should have added 'driven around with a banana on the roof of the car.' 

And as for being a single mum, especially those without family support, well, I don't know how they do it. 

I had a car, which at least allowed me to get around but, and here I'm going into rant mode, the number of parent and child parking spaces is woefully inadequate. Without wishing to sound disablist, if you're disabled there are plenty of reserved parking spaces everywhere and I'm sure there are more parent and children than disabled. In the whole of the hospital car park - the inadequacy of which is another rant in itself - there are just three spaces for parent and child parking. If you've ever tried to get a baby in or out of a car parked in a normal space you'll know how hard it is. And I know they don't encourage child visitors in hospitals but there must be times when it's important or unavoidable. When I was sitting in the queue slowly moving around the full car park I saw three families struggle getting out of cars.

If I had any energy left I'd start a campaign.

And in the midst of all this Younger Son and Nuora came home from Malaysia (good) and Wales lost to Australia (bad).

Still now things should return to normalish as I only have to visit Mum and children most days for the next two weeks and that'll be a doddle!


Katney said...

Parent and child parking spaces are something we do not have here. Tight parking spaces is something we DO have.

Furtheron said...

I just think the whole of life is generally geared against parents with children frankly. We're in the lovely adult-children-no-grandkids yet stage so don't have to worry - but the continual battle with car parks, restrictions etc. etc. still scars me

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A brilliant story Liz, and well done. I was a single parent for a few years , but with only one, and that was little tough , I did have my mum on the other side of town , but still. and due to circumstances which we could not help , two of my grandchildren live with their mum (dad does help a lot) and with their sister who is not my grandchild and she is autistic. She do have great parents to help her out but it is very tough. But she does her best and if I was nearer it would be so much easier .

As for car parking , I totally agree, huge problem in the supermarket car parks as well.

Anyway well done , yes looking after a toddler is tiring , and don't mention coal fires , I am rubbish.

Liz Hinds said...

I'm glad I'm not alone in my criticism of car parks!

Anne, in the old days, of course, no-one moved far away so families could always be relied on to help out. It is so much harder these days.

Anna said...

ugh, the car park spaces are horrible. I never before realised how ridiculously tight they are. And all those empty disables spaces... this is probably a rant that everyone can get on board with,

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Not sure what you mean by old days.. My mum left Ireland when I she married my Dad (well two years later) , who came from Malta , and we moved about a lot . Saw family but for visits.

I have never really lived near family either , Forces married too.

But I see my sons as often as I can , which can be hard , work and other family commitments. But we manage.

nick said...

Sounds like you coped pretty well in the circumstances. I'm sure I'd have been swearing non-stop.

As for car parks, the spaces are usually so narrow I find it hard to get in and out of my car when there's another car right beside me, even without a child in tow. I think we're all meant to be trained contortionists.

mrsnesbitt said...

Jon looks after our coal fired Rayburn - it's a good job too because the flaps, dials and knobs required to get the house warm are a mean engineering challenge. Having said all that, I am nice and warm as I type. Reading this post left me feeling exhausted - and angry too at the lack of planning re hospital parking. You'll be languishing at home now, enjoying every minute of it - put your feet up, have a cuppa - you definitely deserve it Liz.

Rose said...

My curiosity has been piqued ever since I saw your post on Facebook; so glad you have explained it all--well, maybe not the banana, but I think I get the picture:) We don't have any kind of parking spaces alloted for parents with children, but what a great idea. I don't know how many times I've had to squeeze between my car and another one that was parked over the line. I can't imagine getting a toddler out of a carseat and into a stroller in such a situation. Having some designated parking spaces for parents with little ones is a great idea!

I have to say, Liz, what a wonderful thing you have done--I don't know how single mothers cope either, especially without family nearby. I wasn't a single mother, but I don't know how I could have managed without my mother always on call when I needed her.

Ole Phat Stu said...

I can assure you that caring for the wheelchair-bound and/or Alzheimer oldies is every bit as difficult and even more frustrating as they only go downhill from here :-(

Liz Hinds said...

That's true, Nick. Sometimes the spaces we have to squeeze ourselves through just to get out of the car are ridiculously small.

I'm not entirely sure, Rose, how the banana came to be on the roof of the car! I think i must have put it there while struggling to get said toddler into his car seat.

I'm sure it is, Stu - but at least they have plenty of parking spaces!!!