A while ago the Naughty N delivered me some breaking news. I was innocently stirring a cup of Yorkshire tea in the kitchen when she came speeding in and declared, “Sweetie! Sweetie! You have to see this! It’s all about you!”
She then galloped back to the living room and sat down, gawping at the telly where a documentary which explained how all single mothers are causing the rapid demise of modern society.
* Sound of being hit around the head with a large plank of wood. *
I am a single mother.
Okay. Okay. Relax. Hold hand rests of armchair and get a grip on self. Deep breathes. Frown. I am a single mum. Am I a single mum? Oh my, I AM a single mum. Tentatively I hold out my hand and receive my new label.
This label doesn’t feel – let’s say – honourable. It doesn’t feel –I don’t know – like I’m getting knighted or anything. I proceed to sit and watch the doco in morbid fascination and wriggle around with my new label jagging me in the stomach. Apparently, according to one survey by the deep and wise information source well known as the –
– my kids are going to become drug pushers with ASBOs before they leave primary education. Eeko.
By the end of the doco, the single mum label has gone through a strange metamorphosis. Rather than remaining a spiky luggage tag, it has turned into a tight, awkward piece of clothing. Kind of suffocating. Like latex.
Well, that night I went to bed and I can safely say I felt more twitchy than someone who has just watched Tomb Raider in a deserted, underground nuclear base, whilst being spiked with large doses of LSD. I tossed and turned in bed. I just couldn’t get comfortable with this new Single Parent Latex Body Label I had going on. So instead of fighting for sleep, I lay there and let my mind drift awhile.
I thought about how, before the marriage broke up, our family used to look like a square. Two parents two kids.
Now one corner of the square isn’t there and it has left the square kind of wonky. Tilted. Unstable in windy weather. Anything could blow it down ….
These thoughts continued to work around my mind until somehow, at some point, I managed to get to sleep. When I woke up it was light. My eyes felt like they had been popped out of my sockets, rolled in grit, then popped back in. I found Naughty N in the kitchen stirring tea.
“My whole life feels like a wonky a triangle,” I declared tearfully.
Naughty N looked up in surprise. “You might need to explain that a little further.”
“Look!” I snatched up an envelope, scribbled my triangle diagram and explained feverishly. “We used to be a square. See? But now one corner is gone and I am left here, all sideways.”
Naughty N took the pen away and gave me a great big hug. Patting my back reassuringly she said, “Loveliness, if anyone else heard you saying that they would think you were utterly mad.”
That all happened about four months ago. For several weeks I shuffled around in my Single Mother’s Latex Label Gear. Then I got quite claustrophobic and peeled it off with the same urgency as someone who has felt the tickle of a house spider in their all in one pyjamas. Once off, I placed the Latex Label on the side where I could look at it objectively. I prodded it. I explored the stigma around it. I dissected the Daily Mail, age old perceptions of Single Motherdom and other negative social associations.
For the first time, it occurred to me that I was not feeling very gorgeous about my Latex Body Label.
Now, one of the major tools that I talk about in Grow Your Own Gorgeousness is language and how our use of it effects the way we perceive and experience ourselves and our life. Because our thoughts and perceptions effect how we act and ultimately the results we get, I consider language a very powerful thing. Tis a weapon or a paintbrush, depending on how you look at it. At some point after taking off my Latex Body Label I decided to give it back to the Daily Mail with its singling out pointy finger and replace it with;
Single = individual, distinct, a microcosm of the macrocosm, honest, undisguised, whole.
Mother = ultimately empowered, creative, succulent, vibrant, miraculous, earth-like life bloomer.
As the languaging and descriptions started to change, so did my body language. I stopped feeling like I should be hiding and instead I stood up tall. With all those positive descriptions I realised that yes, I could cope. I was strong. I could handle it.
And here is my question.
Why does the media have to scape goat single parents as one of the key reasons that society is falling apart? Does making the figure head of triangular family units feel ashamed and disempowered serve anyone in any way? I’m not saying that being a triangle family is ideal, but they do exist. So, why not empower single mamas to feel like a wonder woman breed, spearheading their own little shuttle of family gorgeousness? Why not give them the tools to feel good about themselves and rise up into their own brilliance?
It took a few more weeks for the new perceptions to really sink in. Then one day I checked in with myself and lo! Something amazing had happened. When I imagined my triangular family unit, the point in the triangle had shifted. I was no longer a square LACKING a point. My place had become central. My family had become an equilateral triangle – one of the strongest shapes there is.
My point for writing this post is to say something about the way we treat different members of society. The plain fact is that, Christian blueprints of marriage … until death do us part … is no longer a predominant force. Just like careers, homes and countries, people may move through more than one relationship throughout their life time. But what is essential is an individuals relationship to themselves … how much they value and see themselves as valuable members of the human tribe.
Everywhere we go now, there are triangular families. If we can empower and help or spearhead mamas to feel strong, centred, empowered, loving and heard, then they will steer their triangles onwards and upwards in a positive beautiful way. Or we can wrap them up in negative latex labels so that they feel ashamed, bad and wrong.
Here is my present to all spearhead mums in this world. It’s a new label.
S.I.N.G.L.E = Strong, Independent, Nurturing, Gregarious, Loving, Energised PARENT