I had my first child when I was, literally, just 19 years old – and before all the naysayers stand up to be counted , I’m more than aware that this was less than ideal, I was forced out of my job (back in the early 1990’s is was still very easy to do this ESPECIALLY in the hospitality industry) married in a rush aged 18 and was housed in a council flat designed for an elderly person (with emergency pull-cords and everything)
I am also aware that I was lucky. I WAS housed by my local council in just 5 months, I did have a (then) boyfriend who stayed by my side and I was healthy enough that I survived my pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby girl – Lizzie, now aged almost 24 (despite my battle with Hyperemesis Gravidarum – the same issue as was heavily publised by the Royal pregnancies over the last few years but through which I lost 4 stone in just 4-and-a-half months)
In the intervening 2 or so decades life has chosen to throw me more than my fair share of curve balls and I’ve batted them all back – more or less.
I’ve had 4 more children (3 with one partner and 1 with another) – I’ve gotten through 6 miscarriages (2 of which left a live twin each time – my two sons) I’ve supported my Ex through complicated health issues including a heart-attack, longterm mental health conditions and much more besides. My family (specifically my eldest two Lizzie & AJ) supported me by helping me get my youngest to/from nursery when I first became single & was still working as a temp & then got a permanent job which ended up demanding 16 hour long days!
I’ve watched as one of my children went through surgery, not just once, but repeatedly – so that she could achieve that most normal of requirements, the ability to walk without being in constant pain, limping or the fear that her leg would give way and she would collapse in the middle of the street. After all this, she’s no better off, in fact it look likes we are going to have to help her go through it all again along with the additional stress her injury has caused to her knees & hips.
I’ve stood and seen my OH’s fight tooth and limb for full custody of our boys against a systems which is inherently biased against fathers for no other reason than they are not mothers (even bad ones) as it seems that a pair of boobs & a noo noo are what you require to raise your children, even if you are mentally unstable & incapable of doing so! I’ve also seen him win & I was there all the way, for the ups and downs, the dark days as well as the wins. I waited and was patient. I listened and held him whenever he needed – sometimes even when he didn’t. It was about reading between the lines because not everything which was heard was actually said.
After years of negotiating our lives down one false trail then another, we are finally reaching a new beginning for the entire family – we bought a home together!
That might not sound like a big thing to some of you but believe me when I say that to us it’s huge – immense – enormous even… and as a result I’ve reverted back to a previous form of myself – one which remembers how much she hates moving, is insecure, dreads the thought of sorting her belongings and deciding on what to pack and what to get rid of!
It also feels like a wake up call. A reminder that I’m in this for the duration – a 22-year-long mortgage term by the end of which (possibly) the children may still be living with us because of the horrible nature of our housing market here in the south east!
Laugh if you will, but remember this. In 22 years I will be 65, my oldest child will be 45 and the youngest 28!
The point I’m trying (badly) to make here is that, I rarely, if ever, stop to consider the fact that I am more than the sum of my parts – mother, partner, carer, employee, woman, ex-wife, lifelong student, “nurse”, counsellor, referee, project manager, chief cook and bottle washer – and at some point I will have to stop and accept the fact that I am, indeed, a superhero, to my children, my OH (he has told me this) …..
And maybe someday to myself!