How could it be any other way?

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The idea that children don’t always come first to a parent is alien to me.

If you are a reader of my blog, you will already know that we haven’t always had it easy – we’ve survived domestic abuse, led a nomadic life (out of necessity, not choice), had to dig down the back of the sofas to see if we could rustle up enough change to buy a loaf of bread, and when times were really hard, we have had to choose heating or eating.

Life as a single mother is hard.

But in those times when we have had to hunt for loose change, we have turned it into an adventure, a treasure hunt. When we haven’t had enough money for food and heat, we have eaten our dinner snuggled under a duvet with a hot water bottle, watching films and reading stories. When our situation became too volatile, and we have turned to women’s aid, we called the refuge ‘The Special House’, and pretended we were on holiday.

The situations were all different, but the one thing they all had in common was that we were all together. Me, and my children. Nothing, and nobody, would part us. If I had been forced to sleep in a garden shed, we would have turned it into a beach hut, at least in our imaginations.

So it is completely beyond my comprehension that any parent – any mother or father – can put their own needs in front of their children’s.

So many times I have pretended to the children that I had already eaten, just so they would have enough to eat. Or that I was too warm just so they could have the extra blanket at night.

Sacrifices? No, I don’t see it as that. I see it as being a mum.

I met a man once whom I fell deeply in love with. He helped us run when we had nowhere to run to, took us in until we could get our own house, and fed us, supported us. But he just couldn’t get along with one of my children. We had gone through hell, and it had taken its toll. He was the adult, and should have behaved better, but he couldn’t, they locked horns continuously. So I left him. And I would do it again – although they are grown up now (well, two of them are and the third thinks she is) – I would never let anyone come between us. I still miss him to this day, but there was never any doubt in my mind that that was what I had to do.

Of course, if the problem one of them had with someone I was seeing was unfounded, I would sort it out, bang their heads together if necessary. But I would never – could never – blindly ignore the bad behaviour of my partner and toss my kids to one side.

It’s unthinkable.

It seems that, oftentimes, a parent would rather sacrifice their relationship with their children, than be alone, even if that means being with the wrong person. When there is not even the excuse of love.

When someone can so easily destroy the bond they are tentatively holding with their children, for convenience, for companionship, do they deserve the title of Parent?

Of course, once my children are all grown, and have their own lives, then I will pursue my own happiness. And when I say my own happiness, that isn’t meant to say that I am not happy now, because I am. I mean my own happiness, separate from my children. Once they no longer need me, then I can afford to be a little selfish.

But one thing I know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that if someone gave me an ultimatum – if they made me choose between them and my children – I would kick them into touch without a second thought, because anyone despicable enough to put me in that situation is really not worth my time.

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Ailish

 

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