Success and the Single-Parent Family (a featured question)

I came from a single parent home when single parent homes were frowned upon; the days before they became the norm.  In the spring of 1980 I went up to my teacher and, in a very matter-of-fact way, I told her, My daddy doesn’t live at home anymore

We were poor.  By today’s standards we lived below the poverty line.  But we had food to fill our bellies, a roof to shelter us from the English rain and clothes to protect our modesty. 

And we were happy.  We were loved.  We were instilled with a passion for learning and a pride for being well-behaved and respectful.  I may not have had as many toys as Rachel from the next street, but I did have an imagination and it was my imagination which held her in contempt.  I remember that, although I didn’t have a word for the feelings I had back then.

I am a success because of (not despite) my childhood and family circumstances.  I am not a success because I have a degree, a job, a mortgage, a loving husband, a longing to continue learning and a nice car.  I’m a success because I can find reasons to smile on a rainy day.  I’m a success because I can scrunch all the misery and pain into a little paper ball and file it away in the deepest, darkest corner of my mind.  I’m a success because I know how to keep my house clean and my bedroom dirty.  I’m a success because I have personal morals to adhere to and a desire to help people less fortunate than me.

But mostly I’m a success because I saw my Mumsy struggle to survive for my benefit.  I saw her express all the emotions one woman can (sometimes all in the same day) and I watched her cope.  I watched her live.  I was there with her when she came out the other side and realised she had raised four fabulous – successful – children with very little help (either physically or financially) from their father. 

I genuinely believe that if The Father had shown more than just an occasional passing interest in my up-bringing, I wouldn’t be the success I am today.  Or, perhaps because of his occasional passing interest I am the success I am today.  Who knows?

I do know that I am not an exception.  There are thousands of successful adults/children in the world who were raised in one-parent families, and they all have their own stories.  And if we lose everything tomorrow (which could happen; we live in interesting times, my friend) then I will still be a success, regardless of damp walls and Tesco Value foodstuffs. 

But then, perhaps my idea of success is skewed? 

please God bless Mumsy for helping me be a success xxx Elsabeth

this was a Featured Question; you can answer it to apparently.

What has been the biggest challenge in your life so far?

I don’t have an answer to this question.  Or, I have so many answers to this question that there’s no one thing I can pinpoint as being the biggest challenge I’ve faced to-date. 

I walked the streets of Prague alone for a week, unable to speak the language, suffering from depression and feeling unwanted as a future SiL struggled with her own demons.  I travelled three hundred miles to escape my childhood, throwing myself into student life and loving every minute.  I survived a four year abusive relationship, and still struggle to come to terms with the fact that I loved him.  I longed to be loved by a father who deserted me; it took me a long time to realise I could love him without having to actually like him.  I understand now that I am my father’s daughter.  I listened to The Big Brother sobbing and I took his pain as my own, but I had nobody to take mine away from me and ease my burden.  I  was kind and let people take photographs of me on my wedding day.  Sometimes I talk on the phone, to strangers.  As a twelve year old I cried in church (often) and told God he was a bastard; I’m still unsure as to where I stand on that score.  I cuddle my Blokey and pretend to be fine but inside my belly is gurgling with a mixture of fear and hope and hate and worry …

But my Biggest Challenge (so important it deserves capitals) is yet to make an appearance.  My Biggest Challenge is the one that will never be challenged.  It hides in my head and it eats away at me.  Chomp Chomp Chomp.  It bubbles away under the surface, both there and yet not quite there.  I could scream at it, plead with it perhaps, beg it to come to the forefront of my mind.  But I don’t actually want that Challenge.  I like keeping it at arms length because challenging it to become my Biggest Challenge will challenge my family and friends to reconsider their roles in my life, and their memories, and their own existence.

Cryptic?  I can be.  And doesn’t it make it all the more exciting?

please God, challenge me xxx Elsabeth

I just answered this Featured Question, you can answer it too!

What is something you feel you can do better than anyone else?

I am the Queen of Doing Stuff on a Sunday Morning.  Seriously.  Most folk like to lie in bed, snuggled up under the bedclothes, maybe sleeping, maybe enjoying a cup of tea whilst watching cartoons, or maybe Doing the Dirty.  Me?  I get up and mow the lawn, weed back and front, put some towels in the wash, put the towels on the washing line, feed the cat, make a cheese & onion quiche, make up some jelly [which will be divine with the ice-cream we don’t have in the freezer], fill the dishwasher, chat to the neighbour [I’m sure she looks out for me, ready to pounce on the pretence that she needs to sweep her totally clear of debris garden path] about how to have a long and happy marriage, make The Blokey a cup of tea and pander to his every whim [what with him being poorly still], make the bed, send a couple of emails and finally enjoy an indulgent shower, followed by smothering myself in chocolate smelling body lotion.  Yummy.

I am also the Queen of Scramble, my new favourite game on Facebook.  Challenge me if you dare. 

Hmmm … Oooh, Queen of Sarcasm.  And Pedantry.  You will never meet a more sarcastic pedant than me. 

And I make a mean Shepherd’s Pie.  It’s the bestest in the world, but please don’t tell my MiL. 

I also worry better than other people, get all huffy-puffy better than other people, sigh better than other people, keep things bottled up better than other people, and my sense of humour is so dry it makes Jack Dee’s humour look moist.

In fact, it seems obvious that I’m just generally better than other people*.  Go me! 

please God bless my superiority xxx Elsabeth

* except for with regards to Maths, which I can’t do – although I did teach myself to play Sudoku and I can now count to ten … 

I just answered this Featured Question, you can answer it too!  WooHoo!

How has your family background influenced the way you see the world?

What is this Featured Question malarkey?  What is the point of it?  Is it something to do with The Great Global Public having no imagination and a need for inspiration?  Or is it just a phase that will run its course in due time? 

*pats Xanga on the head in patronising manner*

I don’t buy into all the extra crap that Xanga spews forth.  I love Xanga muchly, but it’s the simple and basic Xanga of old that is my lover.  Sod the themes, the friends, the dashboard, the pulse and the locks.  I like simplicity and uncluttered-ness [despite what my house might tell you … ].  Why [oh-why] do the folk here feel the need to try to convince me to modernise my Xanga every time I visit my Look & Feel page [which obviously I do muchly because I’m a Xanga Whore], when they can’t even make sure that the spell-check is set to English-English not American-English, despite the number of times I reset it? 


However, I am a bit hypocritical by nature and therefore feel a sudden desire need to answer this most recent Featured Question.  This is mainly due to the fact that I was reading some of the entries and was absolutely appalled by the lack of thought and imagination that goes into some responses.  My most favourite include …

Definitely [how does that answer the question?]; Oh, certainly not! [wtf?]; I don’t know; I’ll edit this later; Everyone’s family has.Duh.Kids don’t raise themselves [I note a lack of spaces in that one]. 

So, now you’re probably gagging for my response, yes?  Oh, I shan’t disappoint you.  Well, I might …

By rights I should be a man-hating, God-loving, Tory-bashing, teetotal, argumentative, f.ucked up self-harmer, with a need to find affection and love through sex with strangers.  I should have trust issues [mainly with men] and should be aware of how vulnerable it makes me look by turning on the waterworks.  I should never have the fear of losing an argument and should know that making it slightly physical can work to my advantage.  The use of the word Fine! along with a look of pure contempt is a woman’s best line of attack.

However, I am none of the above.  Except I am argumentative.  And I do all the womanly emotional bits. 

[Oh my God, you’ve started your period haven’t you?]

In reality I understand why a single mother shouldn’t be made to work. I know the value of money. I recognise the need for sibling rivalry.  I know that love and nurture can make all the bad things in the life of a child seem far away and that true love is unconditional.  I understand that it’s sometimes best not to talk about things that don’t matter because hurt is more painful than love and happiness more important than tears.  I know that arguments must always be followed by hugs and that the people who love you are never more than a phone call or email away.  I accept that everybody is a unique individual and that nobody can judge others when they don’t know the full facts. 

I know right from wrong, up from down and how to tie my shoelaces. 

I also know that I should wear clean knickers everyday because it’s hygienic.  And that I should eat all the food on my plate because if I don’t some poor child somewhere over there *randomly waves hand about in direction of another country* will starve.

please God bless me for sinning and answering a Featured Question xxx Elsabeth

I just answered this Featured Question, you can answer it too!