Expectations appear to be low. They appear to be very low. As I have stepped out, day by day, into this new season of being a sole parent, it has struck me how low expectations from some quarters truly are, when it comes to sole parents, particularly 'solo mums' and their dependents.
Some folk clearly have long held deep beliefs and biases (regardless of how much they may try to claim they don't), around what a sole parent can and cannot achieve and can be expected to do. People clearly have long held deep beliefs and biases also around what a child of a sole parent can and cannot achieve and can be expected to do, and their narrow beliefs and biases are plainly sad.
Be it extended family members, be it friends and acquaintenances, be it businesses and companies you previously engaged with and who previously valued your custom and accepted you would pay your regular or annual bill payments.... they gradually all reveal what underlying attitudes they hold when it comes to a sole parent, particularly a solo mother, as well as her children.
I have seen something of both the best and worst of humanity in some respects these past months, as I am now mantled with this title of being a sole parenting mother, and my children are duly labelled in some quarters 'fatherless' and the children of a 'solo mum'.
There are those who kindly and gently come alongside and ask genuinely, "What do you need?"
There are those that do simple, yet such helpful things, like the dropping off a sack of kindling at the front gate, just to make one experience of going out to collect firewood less of a hassle. (Those that did that: God bless you for your kind gesture, it meant a great deal).
There are those who spontaneously send a monetary gift card to help pay for a fortnight of groceries. (Wow! Truly wow! Thank you for your generosity! The timing couldn't have been more perfect, as I dealt with the unwarranted taking of funds by a business not keeping thorough tabs on what money they had already received from me!).
There are those that are kind, those that are caring, and those that are truly the salt of the earth; when you are still in the earliest of stages of picking up the shattered pieces of what was previously your typical home life.
There are those who genuinely come alongside and confidentially pray.
There are those who text and phone and offer the comfort of simply saying, "I am thinking of you, and I am here if you need me." There are those that say they are there for you and they really, really genuinely and sincerely mean it.
There are those however that claim to care, yet choose instead to stand back and simply gossip & engage in tattling behind your back, as well as those who choose to cut you off completely.
There are those also that expect you to fall apart and not hold it together.
There are those that want to tell you to keep hoping and keep trusting for reconciliation and better days ahead, when what they are personally clinging to is an unrealistic and uninformed understanding of why a relationship has in fact dissolved.
There are those that offer you unwarranted advice, and those that offer you well grounded legal advice.
There are those that wait on the sidelines for you to fail at what you next put your hand to. They want you to fail, because they have a vested interest in having you experience failure; they simply want their own narrow, biased vision of who you are, to come to be, in both time & reality.
There are also those who have not acknowledged or talked to you for a considerable time, yet they stop you in the street and straight up ask you most directly," So, why did your husband leave?"
There are businesses that no longer appear to trust you to pay the very accounts you faithfully previously helped pay. It would appear, now being a sole parent allegedly changes who many of us fundamentally are, as previously-proven loyal bill payers, able savers and frugal human beings.
Expectations are low when it comes to sole parenting, particularly with regards to those labelled 'Solo Mum.' Those deemed to be now labelled with that often very emotionally charged label, are expected to fit within a narrow stereotype, it would repeatedly seem at present.
Expectations are very low, presumptions and judgement whip around rather quickly, and I personally have had something of a guts load of it. It is somewhat laughable, yet it also makes me personally currently rather (and rightly so) frustrated and angry.
It has been something like clockwork that every 2 - 3 days there has been something unwittingly requiring attention, something that previously just ticked over without any hassle, without any previous question.
The number of utility companies that I am still trying to deal with, to simply set in place paying the usual monthly payments, is becoming something of a quiet yet unpleasant personal joke.
My expectations, yes, my expectations have gradually lowered also, in relation to a number of businesses and their business practices attitudes and biases towards me, now as I am a sole parent, a 'solo mum', because it does work both ways, you see.
There is a new norm becoming prevalent.
It is the new norm, because the underlying expectations I have been subjected to now, as a newly appointed & labelled 'Solo Mum', are that I will allegedly fail, and I will fail allegedly horribly downwards, via a slipping slope, and an allegedly predictable spiral of dysfunction.
There are those I literally know of who are standing on the sidelines expecting to see their own biased presumptions and judgements be proven correct. They want me to join the ranks of other sole parents, 'solo mums' who have failed, who have stayed trapped in a downward spiral; because it would suit their fixed mindsets about what is a well rounded, healthy family, and therefore literally bring to fruition their prejudices.
Previously, simply because there was a man in the house, there was no question about whether I could run a home impeccably well, carry out a regular, daily well-rounded homeschool programme for our children, whilst managing the establishing of a small business enterprise on a small rural, lifestyle property, as well as contributing occasionally to church and community projects, etc. There was no question, and yet now perhaps there is?
Nope. Not a chance.
This rural based mama may be going it solo, but my path is able to approached still, with some good old common sense and sound, logical intelligence on my part. Life going forward will have my best gumboot foot being put forward, in order for it to be as well navigated overall as I could personally endeavour for it to be; even if there are still some variations, in time and output, along the journey occasionally.
Yes, it is a new season. Yes, there are things that have needed to be adjusted and needed to be reviewed, however, I am still very much the same conscientious, hard-working person I was previously, before the marriage I was part of came to a crossroad path.
I am still a capable, able-bodied human being who can do their very best to solve day to day issues on a rural lifestyle property. I am capable of picking up and using a pole saw, moving a heavily stacked up wheelbarrow, and even changing a lightbulb or the like all without the necessary aid of a Prince Charming allegedly to come rescue poor, little old me.
I am a person with skills, abilities and experience, quite capable of achieving my long time dreams and goals if not hindered by the undue, unwarranted interference of others and their biased judgments about what women, and particularly a 'solo mum' can do and achieve. The dreams and goals may just for a time take a little longer or even be put on hold a little, while my children and I grieve and re-group ourselves, but that is perfectly okay and also perfectly normal.
A sole parent is not a second class citizen. A solo mum is not a headless chicken, who needs to be rescued. They are not clueless duds who cannot contribute well to society, or fail to run a successful rural enterprise. They are not deserving of pessimism, or being deemed a lost cause, stuck forever in a cycle of poverty, and a pit of dysfunctional financial management.
Some of us 'solo mums' are as good as you are, (in some cases even better), at managing our finances, balancing our workloads (even our rural workloads), our new found domestic situations, and it is unwarranted and uninvited presumptions and assumptions that add additional pressure and hardship so unnecessarily.
Facing expectations. Facing low expectations particularly, it is an unnecessary extra hardship. Those of us who are classed as sole parents need to not be subjected to as much negative bias as we are. Those that sit comfortably back in their armchairs and cast about further curses about the fate of a 'solo mum' and their children, need to take a good long, hard look in the mirror to face up to their contribution to where society is really at, when it comes to those prejudices they duly cast about others and their circumstances.
Facing expectations. Facing up to low expectations? The presumptious and the judgmental need to raise their own personal meeting of bars, around vision-casting and future fortunes, a tad higher.