Letting go as a single parent
A broken window teaches Natasha a valuable lesson about learning to let go.

A knock at my front door last night brought me face to face with a neighbour from one of the apartments downstairs, kindly letting me know that my son and his friends (two brothers) had broken her window while playing soccer over the weekend. Had he mentioned it? No. He had somehow failed to bring it to my attention I replied, parental rage already making itself felt in my veins. After reassuring my neighbour that all costs would of course be taken care of, I sought out my 8 year old son for a strongly-worded little heart-to-heart.

Our talk revealed that he had been told by the other boys that if he told (it was one of the other kids that kicked the offending shot) they would no longer be his friend or play with him.

My son is an only child and following the split of his family a little over a year ago and spending half his time living with me in an apartment building, I know that having these boys around has meant the world to him. As a single mom, however, I have made it clear to him that it is especially important that we are able communicate with each other at all times and that this goes hand in hand with honesty and trust in our relationship. I spoke firmly. He listened attentively, explained his side convincingly and apologised profusely. We agreed that he would use his pocket money to contribute to the expense of replacing the window.

And that was the matter dealt with, I thought.

A little later the father of the other two boys presented himself at my door. He asked if I'd heard what had happened and after telling him our side he asked to speak to Noah. My mommy senses spiked and I told him that that would not be necessary. That I had already discussed the matter with Noah.

Adapting slowly

But then I reconsidered. One of the things I am acutely aware of as a single parent is that there is much Noah does not get that he needs when he's with me, and the same can be said of his time spent with his father. For example, I am not nearly as firm or strict as his father is and I imagine that he strongly misses the nurturing factor when he's not with me.

I called my son to the door and he listened while the boys' father explained that he was very disappointed in all of them. That they were setting a poor example to the younger brother and that he felt that as older boys it was expected that they take responsibility for their actions and that they speak the truth at all times.

My son listened solemnly and I saw him feel the gravity of the situation.

It's not that I am not a capable parent. That I don't feel that I am doing a good enough job. But good enough is not good enough. I want the very best for my son.

Learning to let go when help is offered

Sometimes being a parent means letting go a little. Not trying to be it all on your own. It’s not that I felt that our talk had not clearly conveyed the lesson I wanted learnt. But I did feel that a male voice, a voice of a man that my son respects, would help reinforce the lesson.

In my fantasies I am 'Wonder Mom', taking care of my son, working full time, and managing life all on my own, independently. Without fault.

In reality, I have been very humbled this last year. Humbled by how much help I have needed. Humbled by how much help has been extended to me without my ever having to ask for it.

Be it my close friends that help by babysitting when the school holidays are too long to keep up with or I have to work on a weekend. Be it the other moms at my son's school that barely know me but continuously offer to take my son to various school and sporting activities and have him round for playdates even though I cannot return the favour. Be it the people in my building that have welcomed my son into their homes, their lives.

I am grateful to all of them. And I think my son and I are both richer for knowing the people this journey has brought our way.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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