I’m a Single Mum. I always think, to myself, that it’s my superpower. Because it’s bloody difficult and I think I’m managing quite well under fairly extreme circumstances. I’ll go along in my little life – not quite merrily, not quite yet – managing everything that needs doing/attending to. Then I’ll get blindsided by comments. Always from women.
A few choice ones from a lunch meeting I had at my son’s school the other day…[yes, unfortunately, I became the main topic of conversation for at least ten minutes].
“Goodness, it must be really hard being a Single Mum…” [Yep, I think, drawing a deep breath] “…my husband’s away a lot so I totally get what you’re going through”….[Really? Really?]
“I’m a Christian, we believe marriage is a big commitment…” [So did I, I think, biting my lip] “…marriage is supposed to be forever. You can’t just decide that’s it and move on. You made a commitment to each other” [I confess, I did reply to this particularly lovely lady, perhaps slightly sharply, “My husband used to beat me. He did it in front of the children. He’s also hit my son. Please don’t judge me when you don’t know anything about my situation”…how I got the words out, between gritted teeth and fighting away tears, I honestly don’t know. She has ‘politely’ avoided me since the incident. Thank goodness. Just thinking about what she said makes me tremble with rage and indignation].
“Don’t you worry what will happen if they don’t have a positive male role in their life? It’s proven that fatherless girls are more likely to have underage pregnancies and boys are more likely to turn to crime” [Really? really? Erm, yes, all the time. It’s one of the things that keeps me awake at night. As soon as I can travel to be with my family, there are positive male role models galore in my family and my circle of friends. None of them are abusive. All of them are waiting – anxiously, very anxiously – to be able to welcome us all back in to their arms, to provide any and all care/attention/love that’s going to be needed]
“I’m sure you’ll meet someone else. You’re still young and still quite pretty” [Firstly, I’m actually still very attractive….secondly, I have no intention of wanting to meet anyone else for the very long foreseeable future. My children have been through enough. My own needs in that department have to come a Great Big Second Place to their well-being].
“Well, I guess you’re happy that the fighting is over”….[if only this were true, I ache].
“Don’t you worry what image you’re projecting, as a Mother?”…[Really? Really? It’s honestly not like I asked for any of this to happen. I didn’t wear a sign around my neck asking for the abuse to happen. Didn’t ever want my children to come from ‘a broken home’…]
“How do you manage….financially? I wouldn’t have a clue, my husband takes care of all that”…[Firstly: I really hope your husband never leaves you, because I’m lucky that I have a thriving career and I have always been able to support myself pre-theft. Secondly: I don’t – really don’t – need reminding about money. Thank you very much. Thirdly: I wouldn’t dream of asking about your financial status].
“I just don’t know how you do it” [“It” isn’t an ordeal. I love my children more than anything in the world and I do what I have to do for them]
…and many, many, more.
I came away from the ‘conversation’ totally drained. Women can be so nasty [my preference for male friends, as a child, flashing through my eyes as I walked away…boys/men – they’re so much less hassle]. Don’t get me wrong, when you find a good female friend, that friendship will probably be lifelong and is worth its weight in gold, but when there’s a bunch of women who don’t know each other that well, there’s always a few of them (the insecure ones) who’ll try to make someone in the group look/feel bad, in a vain attempt to make themselves feel a little bit better. [Mental note – must tell my daughter (when she’s a little older): never engage in petty nastiness, it’ll only dent your grace].
A few minutes after the conversation, I got really sad. Not for me, not for the things they said, but because this sort of stuff happens all the time the world over. People don’t think before they speak. They don’t speak consciously and, because of this, their words can hurt.
Not thinking before you speak is unacceptable, yet so many people do it, so often. And once the words are out there, even if they’re taken back, later, with an apology (three of the Mums did apologise, profusely, later), the way the words made you feel cannot be taken back.
No-one has a right hurt you with their words [Why do I have the lyrics to Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready floating round my head?].
Just a little reminder, I guess, to you all: if we all tried to be that little more conscious of the effects our words might have, and didn’t let unconsidered words leave our mouth, we’d smooth the path for those around us, those whose paths we cross.
Loved this graphic I found on Pinterest: