You would think that most questions I would receive after my daughter’s dad walked out would be based around: ‘How are you coping?’, ‘How do you feel?’, ‘How can I help make his life miserable for you?’
Yet, remarkably, the question I get from pretty much everyone is: ‘How are you being so nice to him about everything, Louise?’ And my answer to this is; ‘Why not?’
He is very adamant that he wants to be in our little girl’s life. At first this made me quite upset to be honest. A part of me felt like things would be so much better without him around. I was being selfish, but I never restricted him in any way. I have always tried to be fair. On closer review, I can honestly say that I am comfortable and extremely happy he is around for her and anyone can quite easily see how much he loves her. I look at other single parents around me and hear their story of how they ended up alone. It truly breaks my heart to hear that the other parent just doesn’t care to even see their child. I would do absolutely anything to be with my little girl, and it makes me feel safer knowing that her dad feels the same way; or so he says. So I give him the benefit of the doubt.
Before I had my little girl, Mr X and I would help take care of his niece and nephew. Every weekend, without fail, the kids would be dropped off at their nan’s where I was staying, and Mr X and I would take them to the zoo, the shops, the park, the beach…anywhere exciting! We would buy them clothes, educational toys and I would actually play with them, read to them, give them hugs and tell them that ‘mummy will be back soon’ every time they burst into tears, not that I knew when that would be! Sometimes they would stay with their nan longer than a single weekend, my heart really didn’t grasp how this single mother with two kids under three could be parted from these kids for so long.
All I wanted was for them to feel loved and that they were worth more than what they seemed. When I fell pregnant, I began to distance myself from the kids. I knew that having a baby around was going to shift all of my focus onto my little girl and that the kids might get upset with the sudden lack of attention once she entered this world. As it was, they already would fight and kick and punch each other due to jealousy…another factor that puzzled me. I grew up with a brother, and we never acted like that. We had nothing but love for each other, so how did they end up that way?
I regret to say that their mum was out every weekend partying, finding guys to date, stealing, and drinking… then she become pregnant again. I remember the day I found out, it was at my baby shower. When Mr X told me, my first response was to smile…two seconds later I broke down and sobbed. Thankfully while she has been pregnant, she has been more maternal and sensible with her kids. I can only hope she stays that way for her children especially since I’m not on the scene anymore to give them that extra bit of attention that they seemed to crave every day.
My biggest fear when I became a single parent was that I would turn out like her. Every time I would take my little girl to my parents’ house for them to mind her, a voice inside of me would scream saying that I am a terrible parent and I shouldn’t be dumping her there. Looking back, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Each time I have ‘dumped’ her at my parents’ house it was for me to go to the gym or tafe. Sure, I still go out and have me time, but not at the expense of my daughter. I have to constantly remind myself that I will never, ever be how that mother was with her kids.
I know this because I am so utterly focused on my girl’s wellbeing, development and just every inch of her to even notice anything else around me. A very important person in my life asked me recently why I wasn’t paying as much attention to them as I admittedly should have been. This fact upset me since I was blindly unaware of what I was doing and that I wouldn’t want this person to feel that way, ever…That’s when it dawned on me that I am a different person when I’m around my little girl. Everything is for her; I can’t be myself when she is in my arms. I become super mum, and super mum only has eyes for protecting her baby.
On the flip side, I have also seen single parents where the other parent is around but there is nothing but negativity, conflict and a disgruntled child. I put my foot down and decided that there was no way I would ever expose my little girl to such a life. Mr X and I have disagreements still, but it is still early days. We both have expressed how we want to make a new definition of the word ‘family’ for the three of us and that is how I can be so nice about everything he put me through.
There is no point getting angry and upset about every minor detail, because at the end of the day, my little girl has gained something way more beneficial than if her dad had stuck around with me. She has gained a mother that would do absolutely anything for her, who gets stronger each and every day and will stop at nothing to make sure her life is beautiful. And she has gained a father who realises how he took things for granted, and will put her needs now in front of his own. Sadly, I don’t think he ever would have ever done that if he stuck around in the first place. We both appreciate her so much more.
So when people ask me how I can be so nice, I just remind them that this journey of parenthood I am travelling down is far better off in our new definition of ‘family’ and I wouldn’t be the super mum I am today if it wasn’t for his actions.
One of my favourite poems is ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost. Every choice I make in life I see as a journey, and with every choice my mind flashes back to this one particular poem:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.