Posted 17 May 2019
Gingerbread Fundraising Officer Daniel writes about his experience of growing up in a single parent family, and why he’s taking part in our Virtual Marathon as a tribute to the strength of his parents. On...
Posted 2 October 2017
Ayse, single mum to her five year old son, gave up a high-flying career when she became a single parent. Here she blogs about what Valentine’s Day means to her, and why it would have been best left in the 18th century.
Making single parents feel awkward and inadequate
Some single parents may find the start of the year hard, facing the same struggles and an empty post-Christmas bank account. I think it’s also partly thanks to being made to feel somewhat of a social pariah on the 45th day of the year.
Valentine’s Day. Roses, cards, chocolates, dinner, romance… eeugh. A time of year that feels like it goes all-out to try and make single parents feel as awkward and inadequate as possible.
I try so hard not to voice my opinions about Valentine’s Day as I always come off sounding resentful of those in relationships. I mean, a single mother, with no man in her life, not liking Valentine’s Day? Well that must make me bitter, desperate and a total loser right? Actually I’ve never liked the concept of this day, even before I became a single parent. The notion that one must prove their love for their partner with grossly inflated material gifts one day a year is simply ridiculous. If you can’t get it right the other 364 days of the year then you’re not gonna get it right today.
Families come in all shapes and sizes
I appreciate that some single parents feel they would be more complete with a partner. I am not such a parent. I don’t feel the need to have a man in my life to make me a better or more fulfilled person. I don’t feel my son suffers or lacks something from his life without a father-figure. Families come in all sizes, shapes and colours these days, yet there still seems to be a stigma attached to being a single parent, particularly during special occasions.
The most important thing motherhood has shown me is that I lacked purpose in my life before I had my son. I had a great job, a blossoming career, a thriving social life and I thought I had it all. Only now that I find myself scraping together pennies some months, working all the hours under the sun, arranging those hours so they work around my son, and feeling so knackered in the evenings until I eventually drag myself up the stairs to collapse in bed, do I realise that I have it all. When I see that cheeky, toothless grin on his face, it makes me smile. When he runs at me and throws himself into my arms for a ‘squeezy cuddle’, it makes my heart sing. When he tells me he loves me to the moon and stars and all the way back, it makes my stomach leap. Achieving all this as a single mother simply makes each smile and cuddle that bit more precious and call me selfish, but I don’t want anyone else to share in that with us now.
An outdated 18th century ritual
Whenever I complained about this day before, people found it funny and thoroughly ‘modern’ of me, yet now it’s a different story. Let’s put aside the pretty, rose petal covered mush and look at the facts of Valentine’s Day. The premise of this day is ludicrously outdated, having evolved in the 18th century.Now let’s see what other common rituals were carried out in 18th century England:
1. Wife selling. Yes, men used to grant their wives by deed to another man when he was sick of her, by taking her to an auction with a rope tied around her neck. Charming. Brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘offloading’
2. Hat doffing. Something one would do to a person of higher social status. Yes, I can well imagine the ‘yoof’ of today doffing their caps
3. Tobacco smoke enema. Yes, you read that correctly. Used to treat a range of ailments, including resuscitation. So, if you were unfortunate enough to stop breathing at the turn of the 19th century, the doctor’s first action was to shove a tube up your rectum and pump tobacco smoke, according to listverse.com. Deeeelightful.
Thankfully, these rituals are now obsolete. We are at the height of technological innovation and digital advancement and, in my opinion, we have no place in today’s evolved society for dated rituals such as Valentine’s Day. A day that is now an extortionate and commercially-fabricated occasion.
Show your love for each other every day
On a more serious note, show your love for each other every day. Every single day that you wake up alive with your loved ones beside you, tell them what they mean to you. I will conform to society and buy my beautiful six year old son, the only man I have ever loved and unashamedly and unconditionally been loved back by, a rose and make him a card, but the difference here? He picks a daisy or dandelion for me wherever he goes, any day of the year. I leave him notes telling him what he means to me in his lunchbox. He constantly makes me cards and writes me letters with poems or pictures to tell me how much he loves me. That is a true celebration of love and something I now could not live without. That is a ritual worth preserving for the next three centuries and one that will continue from his childhood to the lives of his future children.
Valentine’s Day – love it or hate it? Comment below to share your views.