I would love to meet some 80’s generation kids that grew up in a single parent family. I was raised by my Mum alone, and back in the 1980’s I was somewhat of an anomaly. Explaining it to my peers was somewhat difficult; I would be frequently met by the side cocked head as if whoever I was explaining my circumstances to truly didn’t get that there was only my mother in our house. I really didn’t know many people at all sharing the same circumstances.
Even the rough kids still had Mum and Dad, you know? The kids that would punch you in the face for looking at them wrong, those kids. I think back then I was one of the only kids in my school to live in a single parent family. It didn’t bother me much though, I mean, although my friends didn’t understand it, it grew on them. Kids may not be understanding, but they were brilliant at accepting it and carrying on as if it was normal.
My Mum was the best ever. She still is. She looked after every need that I’ve ever had. Being a parent now I partially understand the worry and craziness I put her through in my youth, and she had to deal with it all alone. I have my wife to bounce ideas off of whereas she would have to sit there in her own crazy worry, with no-one to sound off to, or calm her down. It must have been a nightmare.
Single parentdom isn’t without it’s downfalls though. And winging it solo in such an era of non-enlightenment was hard for parents and kids. As far as I know it. I’ve met at least a handful of likeminded people that have grown up like me since the 80’s.
Getting what I want out of life as a young man was hard. Mainly because I only had my Mum with me, and Mum was very feminine. She didn’t want to engage in the boisterous fun young boys have. I can remember always wanting to play fight but my mother didn’t have it in her; she frequently tells me it’s something that she bitterly regrets in life.
Mum knew the poison that Dad was. That allowing him into my life would only destroy me from the inside out. She had a dilemma. On one hand, she could stop my Dad from seeing me at all, that my life would be better off without him, not knowing anything about the man would help me come to terms with my fatherlessness in years to come. Not that she had much trouble with that at the start, he had opted to stay out of my life. And on the other hand, she could allow him to be in my life whenever he wanted, to infect the very essence of my being; he’d destroy the lovely boy I was turning out to be.
Mum had secretly always wanted my Dad to be in my life, she had a very stable upbringing and knew the importance of the presence of a Father to a boy. One day, on my Grandfathers funeral, when I was 10, an opportunity arose for Mum to meet with my Dad and talk to him about the affect his absence was having on my life. They mutually agreed for him to visit me occasionally.
But Mum being Mum, she couldn’t help but try and protect me; shield me from his toxins whenever they presented themselves. They did in the end too. But that aside, the largest failing in my life was my mother’s obsession with trying to shield me from my Dad’s hurt — not that I blame her of course. But that created a personality split for me; one that admired the ground that my Dad walked on, and another that hated the very essence of his being.
I ended up being fractured. The side of me that admired Dad and worshipped the ground that he walked on grew into my sense of self. I was a good man, nice, eloquent and people liked me. I felt good about the person that I was. But the side that equally hated Dad, I absolutely rejected my sense of Masculinity, that being male wasn’t a good thing, and other men were just complete dicks.
So, from there I developed the crazy notion that I was better than other men because I was different – do you see how my sense of self and rejection of masculinity bonds there? And this had no end of implications for me as a young male.
I had developed a sense of self that had put himself on top of other men in the food chain, because I loved myself and equally disliked all other men. Perhaps dislike is too strong a word. I had distracted myself from the notion that I was broken, and had projected the brokenness unto other males. I did have friends that were male, but in my mind, I was worth more than them. This for me, was a messed-up reality to find myself in.
It didn’t help with women. I had no perception that perhaps fifteen other men were chasing the same prize I was, and in my own mind I was the top prize. I didn’t understand effort; I had already put myself on top of every other man that was interacting with her. I was first place. I didn’t realise that with most of these women I was going to have to work damn hard to get in their personal zone. I thought by just being there was enough; my entitledness was staggering.
This whole putting myself on a pedestal didn’t serve me well in life either. I thought opportunity should come my way because I deserved it. When I was younger a fair bit of opportunity fell on my lap but mainly because I worked hard and had a face that fitted, but as I became older and into my twenties I struggled. My life was slowing down and opportunities didn’t come like they should have. You’d think I’d think,
“Right, I’ll go out and create my own”
No. I sat right there and waited for them to come for me. I was this amazing person, better than those shitty other people, why shouldn’t these amazing opportunities fall on my lap as if I was the Queen of Sheba?
It was much, much later in life that I realised I had to create my own wealth in this world.
I doubt Mum has any idea that she had caused this paradox effect in me, and I don’t blame her, I mean she was only doing what she thought was best for me with the tools that she had at her disposal. It’s always hard being a parent. No-one has the right answers. And It all came from a very well-meaning place and that’s the main thing.
Yet there was a lesson to be learned from this, for me anyway. As I look back it was probably in my best interests to make my own judgements on life, my parents, and the world. If I had been allowed to grow into my own way however I seen fit, then perhaps it would have been better for me. I think my Mum’s obsession over trying to control the outcome over my interaction with Dad seeped over into my personality, and not in a good way.
I’ve taken to letting my son grow on his own. He’s allowed to be himself in every way possible, within reason. I’m hoping my mistakes won’t seep into his life! A healthy balance between control and freedom to express himself.
Earth, Water, Sky: YESSSSSSSS!!!! 3 Men, 3 Adventures, 3 Stories. Now on The Good Men Project
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