News Flash: Being a Single Mom is bloody hard!
Hi there, it's been a hot minute since I last wrote here. No, but I had no time. It was hell moving.
Only because some idiot who didn't know better, told me over the phone that I could not continue receiving social welfare, without jeopardising my permission to stay in Denmark. The horror. I moved into my new home on the last day of August and have been spending every waking hour figuring out this game called life.
|I felt abandoned...|
After nearly three weeks in our own home, it has finally dawned on me how difficult single motherhood is going to be. It is pure hustle, from the moment you wake till the moment you close your eyes. I have spent the past week working on not yelling at my poor child. Or rather, on getting curious about my own unmet needs, which have caused me to yell. There was obviously a lot of shame involved, but I have fortunately given myself a strong dose of self-compassion too.
There is hope in having identified my values, needs and triggers. Shelly Robinson, the founder of Raising Yourself has this free 10-day guide for parents to learn to yell less. I haven't finished it yet but so far it has been immensely helpful.
My values are presence, patience and kindness. That is how I would describe myself, as well as the person that I hope to be. (For those of you who are not parents yet, wait. Just wait. Don't judge me yet. 😤)
My needs are sitting and closing my eyes for 45 minutes, having a shower everyday, sweating it out 3-4 times a week, journalling and reading regularly, sleeping early, taking a walk, getting fresh air, hugs, lots of green leafy vegetables and a variety of fruits and veggies, and painting something or writing anything.
My triggers include wasting money (having been punished and fined by my dad all my life), imagining the possibility of being late to an appointment (having had an aggressive dad and ex-husband), seeing mess, spills, clutter (probably has something to do with my mom), feeling like I am not listened to (thanks dad and mom), and having my things ruined (no thanks to my ex-husband).
|What if the whole of life is about unlearning the untruths that we have been programmed as a kid?|
I now try to catch myself feeling angry, and quickly retreat into a corner in the next room to stomp my feet (sounds weird but it helps) and to take deep breaths. I know I probably shouldn't be admitting to doing these things, but this is honestly where I am at. Sometimes I go from zero to Hulk mode in a split second. I end up saying the things that I regret. But I make sure to apologise to Hannah after I have calmed myself down. A new thing that I do is to explain to her that my reaction has nothing to do with her at all, it has all to do with my own haunting experience as a child.
Ah... Sweet parenthood. It does nothing but shines light on your darkest emotional wounds.
|Even though I have always been the primary caregiver to Hannah, it is the first time that it is only me and her.|
My acquaintance from Australia is an avid baker. I know that from Facebook. She was selling Mothers' Day cupcake giftboxes back in May. In her very last photo of her cupcake selling post, she wrote something along the lines of, 'If you want to gift these to someone who is filling the shoes of both mom and dad, hit me up for a special rate'. When I first read that, it did not register in my head that I fall into that category now.
At the crisis centre, Hannah nearly always had some kid to play with, or some employee to follow around. Now it is just me and her. It was only today that I blurted out the words to Hannah, 'Well, it looks like I am both mom and dad to you now'. She looked at me with a look of understanding.
Man, being a single mom is hard. And I am not even working a job yet. My friend Sanne says it is harder for me than it was for her, because she had two kids, who could keep each other entertained. Hannah has got nobody else but me. I have to keep filling her cup. I am just not very good at keeping an eye on my own, yet.
Real talk, I think I have got OCD. I'm working on letting go of the need to have an immaculate home 100% of the time. I mean, it is not even a possible goal. I have a child!! We live here!! I spent the first two weeks guarding every square inch of my home, obliterating any dust or dirt upon sight. No wonder I yelled... Duh. I burned my candle on both ends. Both Hannah and I got scorched.
Just the other day, Hannah broke my new double-insulated Bodum glass mug that I used for hot beverages. I was in the bathroom when it happened. Upon registering what had happened, I forced myself to breathe in repeatedly - more like hyperventilate - while I soaked up the tea with tea towels (oh, the irony). Hannah might have broke my mug, but with the lack of my explosion, I think I won back her trust. She saw that Mom could hold her tongue, despite being under pressure. That was a good comeback for our relationship.
I also started saying this phrase that I hear a lot in Danish, 'stille og rolig'. It means quietly and calmly. Our weekday mornings had been disastrous, because I was just completely exhausted after the move. I had nothing left in me to create a harmonious atmosphere before I sent my kid to kindergarten. I did to Hannah what my dad did: bark until we were out of the front door. It obviously shocked Hannah in the worst way. She was all tears at home, and happy to say goodbye at kindergarten. Happy to be away from the Hulk.
Just this week, I changed my tone and my words. I started telling Hannah, that 'stille og rolig, men vi skal ud fra døren'. It translates to, 'quietly and calmly, but we need to go out of the door.' I saw that communicating calmly helps Hannah understand what is it that I need her to cooperate with (something that I recently heard from my therapist). It sounds like common sense, but for someone who had been ushered rudely out of the door so many times... Being able to speak calmly is the equivalent of conquering Mount Everest.
I have to say 'stille og rolig' to myself more often too... There are always a million things to be done. It is getting dark earlier and earlier now, as we move into autumn. It gets cold in the morning, around 11 degrees Celsius. Hannah needs two sets of thermo-clothes and rain-clothes in her new nature kindergarten, because she stays outdoor all the time. I thought two sets were enough, but it looks like I might have to get an extra set of everything for her, to keep at home. That is if I want to be sure that Hannah has the right outerwear on when we cycle to kindergarten in the morning.
Anyway, now that things have changed, Hannah would cry for Mor (Danish for mom) whenever I drop her off. It can be quite painful to leave. I hope that the crying gets better soon.
When my dear therapist, Jane, said to me two weeks ago, 'Just look how far you have come'... I did not understand her. What do you mean, 'far'? I came as far as was needed of me, I thought to myself.
But really, look, Vivian.
I came to this country, learnt the language and acclimatised to the cold, gloomy weather. I built a wardrobe that would keep me warm in winter and cool in summer, plus acquired clothing for the transitory months. I did all that while learning how to keep my infant warm.
Now I have a place of my own, away from my crazy ex. I got myself out of the toxic relationship, even though it was difficult. I walked away from what was unhealthy for me. It was a mega brave thing to do.
I learnt how to cook Danish food from Helge and could whip up a Danish pork roast for my first ever dinner guest, Helene. 'I would never have thought that I would come to an Asian's home for dinner and be served flæskesteg. I only ever make it for Christmas', she said. Even the Dane was impressed. 😉
My brand new mini sofa has not arrived, but I managed to organise the second-hand dining table and bed of my choosing to be transported to me. It takes a certain level of persuasion, to not mention language proficiency, to do that. You have only been here for two years! Du er fandeme sejt man! 💪
My ceiling lamps still sit on top of the fridge because there has not been anyone game enough to install them for me. I looked at two YouTube videos and decided that I would do it myself. I asked Lars for the names of the tools that I need, because they are in Danish. Can you see how incredible you are? You know nothing about installing lights, never took interest in the hardware stall and everything that you need is written in Danish. But you are game enough. You are determined to learn and grow and get things done, so you do just that.
For that, I am proud of you. I am proud to be you.
Until next time, I will be washing dishes, drying dishes and putting them back where they belong. I will be emptying the trash. I will be sorting out the recycling into paper, cardboard, glass, metals and organic food waste. I will be giving Hannah a bath and cutting her nails. I will be sweeping the floor and wiping down surfaces. I will be watering my three pot plants and admiring the flowers. I will be going for meetings at the job centre, to find out what is to become of my future. Whether I am starting language school, or not. I will be making lunch boxes for Hannah and snacking on the ingredients to stay awake. I will be paying attention to the hourly electricity prices. I will deliberate over what hour I use the oven and to iron my dresses. I will flip through the supermarket pamphlets to look out for good deals. Meats are to be under 50 Danish kroner per kilogram, which is rare, but sometimes I get lucky. I will try to cook dinner at lunch time, so electricity costs less. I will crash early on Friday nights, because I finally get to escape washing dishes.
Given that I do all these things as a single mom, is there any wonder why I no longer have time to write on my blog? I desperately want to. I try everyday.
I want to write a post about all the people that I have met in the past seven months, while we lived at the crisis centre. I want to write about how grateful I am to many of them. Will that post ever be birthed? We shall see. But the intention is there.
I will continue to work hard to earn a fit body, calm mind and a home full of love. I will also let go of the pursuit of happiness, because 'the pursuit of happiness does not lead to happiness.' In fact, I made a list of all the things that I 'lack' and want to buy, and a list of all the things that I need to be happy. The former is made up of physical things and the latter is made up of intangible things.
In conclusion, money is great to have but it's the intangible things that only time can buy, that I truly need to be happy. Deep thoughts.
Wishing you presence, patience and kindness,