single motherhood after being widowed

dance recital

Image by CR Artist via Flickr

My daughter has her first dance recital this Friday. I took her to the dress rehearsal at a nearby high school this evening. It is the kind of thing a normal parent does, reminding me once again that I am a normal parent and my daughter is a normal child. It’s is just circumstances that make me feel as though we are out of place. The fact is though that she and I were hardly the only two who came in a pair tonight. There were very few matched sets of parents in the auditorium watching the various groups struggle through the hurried up practices. It was mostly moms and daughters who smiled and laughed and shared this ritual, one of the many, that goes along with growing up.


Dee was so excited and crouched with her best friend, Riley, on the top step of the stage I felt a pang of guilt when I realized that this was something the two of them would not experience together again. They have known each other since they were babies. Best friends since they could walk. It brought tears to my eyes to watch them dance across the stage together and miss their cues because they were too busy comparing bug bites on their legs or giggling about something that is only funny if you are four…….and best friends. They hugged good-bye when their rehearsal was through. All smiles. They would see each other in the morning before school began and play together at recess. And I wondered what the scene might look like in a few weeks when good-bye would be longer than just the summer, and how I would deal with the tears that would come later this summer when Dee realizes the fall will bring a new school without familiar faces. Without her best friend, Riley.


Tonight was just a rehearsal. One of the many you have in life.




Image by tanya_little via Flickr

All the world and just about every piece of furniture in the house is an opportunity to practice great feats of acrobatic daring and skill. This is according to my daughter. Because though she is afraid to walk down a flight of stairs without gripping the railing or resorting to scooting on her bum, she thinks nothing of hurling herself through the air as she leaps from love seat to ottoman to recliner where she will dive arms out-stretched into the cushioned seat flipping her legs over the high back and catching herself securely with her slightly crooked knees. Once in this decidedly upside down position, she will rock the lazy-boy with such force that it comes very near to losing its balance and spilling her onto the floor behind it.


Tonight as I was working on the hyperlinks for the new photo albums, and frustrating myself far more than was necessary since I could have just read the directions again, she called me into our furniture-lite living room to watch her perform her “acrobends”.


“They are very hard and sometimes they hurt.”


Although she usually adheres genetically to her late father’s theory that “if there is pain; there isn’t much of use to be gained”, this doesn’t apply to the twisty contortions only a preschooler is physically capable of performing. The more painful or potentially injurious it looks, the more it appeals.


I watched her for a few minutes before she tired of her cartwheel attempts and began to demonstrate her ballet moves which include “peelays” and something that looks like a top spinning out of control.


Later, after she had moved on to the swings in the backyard that she doesn’t yet grasp we will have to leave behind when we move, I sat at the keyboard and recalled some of the new vocabulary and facts she has acquired in preschool this year in addition to her growing agility.


January was an enlightening month. I was solemnly informed of the importance of “Dr. Luther King” for the entire week preceding and following his holiday.


“He died, Mommy. He got a shot in the park.”


February was packed. There were valentines and the Chinese New Year.


She was intrigued by the idea that years could be animals.


“What year were you born?”


I told her I was a rabbit and that daddy had been an ox, which made her laugh. She was born in the year of the horse, I told her, like Frankie. The Chinese despair of a daughter who is born in the year of the horse. I never did find out why though being a mother to a little horse for nearly five years now, I have a pretty good idea.


Presidents loomed large in February.


“We learned about presidents today, Mommy.”


“Which ones?


“George Washington and Hammerman Lincoln.”


“Are you sure it’s not Abraham?”


“No, Mommy, it’s Hammerman.”


She speaks slowly to me at times like these and in a tone that makes it clear I am not as smart as she is though,


“I really want to be wrong sometimes, Mommy, so you can be right.”


I have a feeling she won’t remember that conversation in ten years, but for now I will accept the sentiment behind it and wish myself a Happy Mother’s Day in advance.



"Under the horse chestnut tree", 1 p...

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I have never pretended that I ever wanted to parent on my own. As a matter of fact when I turned 31, I actually spent a few months comtemplating  single parenthood. Not because it was becoming a trendy thing, but because I really couldn’t imagine not having a child of my own. I came to the conclusion though that it was too daunting a task and much too unfair to a child to go it alone. 


Imagine my surprise when the fates went ahead and made a single mom of me anyway.


It isn’t that I am not good at it. I am commended right and left for what a wonderful child I have, but I often wonder if they are merely saying that and the unspoken part of the sentence is “for not having a father..” Because the truth is that my little girl is headstrong and spoiled. I have been too distracted and too tired and just too grief-stricken to hold the lines that needed holding as often as they should have been held.


Case in point is that she still sleeps with me. She has slept with me almost from the beginning. I am assured by other two parent families that children do sleep with their parents. It is more common than the majority let on and that eventually they all sleep on their own.


I feel like a failure nonetheless.


Neither I nor any of my siblings ever slept with our parents in their bed. Their bedroom as a matter of fact was strictly off-limits. I have memories of hovering in the doorway to their room and asking to be allowed in. Even in the middle of the night. Even if I was ill. I never even tried to broach the door if I had a bad dream. I would just pull the covers over my head and grip them tightly to prevent whatever monster I had dreamt of from gaining entry.


I bring this up only because I worry that this bad habit I have left to its own devices will become more of an issue once the summer comes and we are in Canada with Rob. He is patient when it comes to my parenting skills, but he is far and away the expert. It must take quite a toll on his inner Virgo to tactfully approach subjects concerning my daughter. 


We had a semi-conversation about sleeping arrangements tonight on the phone, and although he brought up nothing I hadn’t already thought about, I still felt bad afterwards because I know firsthand that no one was ever meant to do this by themselves.


I wonder more often than not who she would be if there had been two of us raising her.