It’s Mother’s Day Eve (I know that’s not a thing) and I felt something brewing in me for the last couple of days. And I think this post has to be brutally honest. This one is going to go out to the single parents out there doing it tough. I know there are partnered parents out there doing it hard too, but this one is from where I sit.
In a country that prides itself on being the ‘lucky country,’ living in Sydney as a single parent doesn’t feel so lucky. It feels like a constant battle between homelessness, helplessness, hunger and despair. While a Turnbull Government is busy giving money back to those who can eat without guilt, spare a thought this Mother’s Day for all those Mothers who won’t have a special lunch or new dressing gown. But are smilingly accepting those hand-drawn paper cards telling her that she’s the best Mum in the world. But they can’t massage away the constant knot in her gut that is trying to keep this sinking ship afloat.
I can tell you about being a mother in Sydney right now. I have two young girls who I am raising by myself. We fled a domestically violent relationship around nine years ago. Daddy dearest contributes $16 and a couple of hours per month it’s all we can ask apparently.
It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow and I haven’t bought my own mother anything, because I can’t afford to. In fact, I bought some food yesterday that in all honesty, I couldn’t afford to. Last week was tough, I almost didn’t have fuel to get back from university, or food to give my kids for their school lunches.
I’m in the last year of a double degree, but my youngest daughter committed the crime of turning 8, so I got moved to Newstart and lost just over $200/fortnight. We went from needing a little help from my mother to relying completely on her to survive. I hate that.
I’m not alone. Not only do single parents have to struggle, quite often to leave very difficult circumstances. But, when coming out of DV they deal with their own PTSD or emotional and mental breakdowns. Support their children who are fresh out of emotionally damaging and unstable environments. But here as you are struggling to make it back to the stable and financially manageable place you were before crisis, the rug is pulled out from under your feet continuously, just to make sure you maintain that feeling of falling.
So, this Mothers Day, I’m trying to keep my mind focussed on my gorgeous girls, but in my gut I know that this week I need to find a way to eat, pay rent, pay electricity, keep the phone from being cut off, keep my car on the road and chug out four major works for uni. I am treading water continually and no one is going to save me.
People at school or at Uni or my online community are constantly saying to me “Chris, I don’t know how you do it.” The truth is neither do I. I just have this dogged determination and vision that I have to finish this degree. I’m being offered honours. OK, how can I make money and do honours? It feels like madness.