Those who follow my blog already know: I am a single mother because I chose to be.
How did I make my choice? Long story. What I want to share with you today is that one year ago, my son asked me: “Mom, how was I born? How did I enter your belly? Why do I have 3 mummies?”... Yes, 3 mummies!
One year ago, my son was 4 years old, and due to the fact that Father’s Day was coming up, in the kindergarten they must have started talking about “dad”, “mum” and “family” (well, that’s what I suppose). So, my son’s curiosity was piqued.
I’ve always believed that children should not be lied to, because eventually the truth always comes out, and they may grow harbouring feelings of resentment when they find out they were deceived or fooled at a young age. Things should be explained to children according to their age.
It is also important to think of the “emotional security” of the child, avoiding making him/her feel abandoned, with phrases such as “your dad has gone away”, or “your dad left us”, or “your father never loved us”. If it is a phrase that will not add up to something good, why should we say it in the first place?
While writing this post, in a blog for single mothers I came across a paragraph I will share with you because I liked it a lot:
Nowadays, it is believed that the most convenient thing is to tell the truth to the child as soon as he starts asking why his/her family is not like that of his/her friends’. Knowing the truth will help the child to assume reality and to take it as something natural, that’s why it is imperative to convey a sense of safety and confidence in his/her future. Minute details should not be given unless the child asks for them, and he/she certainly will ask as he/she grows.
It is important that the child gets and explanation of his/her situation just as soon as he/she is able to understand it. The child deserves truthful answers, which should be delivered to them in an appropriate way and time; with understandable concepts. Grudges against the absent father should be avoided, his image should be neither disparaged not apotheosised.
We can get a few simple tips out of this text:
- Progressive information, coherent with the child’s age.
- Details in accordance with what the child asks.
- Reality should be explained with naturality, avoiding the conveyance of shame or grudges.
- The father figure should not be disparaged or apotheosised.
So, how did the conversation with The Light of my Eyes go? It was like this.
I explained to him that I always wanted to have a baby, a son I could love and with whom I could play. So, one day when I already had a job and room in the house, I decided to go to the doctor.
- The doctor? – asked he, with a worried expression on his face. – Were you sick?
- No – I answered. – There are some doctors that don’t see sick people. These are doctors that UNMARRIED mummies who want babies go to. Since I was unmarried and I didn’t have a boyfriend, I went to this “doctor of babies” and told him that I wanted to have a baby in my belly.
Then, I produced a book I had acquired a long time ago (precisely for when this moment should come). And I showed him two images. (see picture 1 at the gallery)
I explained to him that in those “jars” that looked like dishes, the doctor mixed cells of a man and a woman, and afterwards he put that mixture in through my navel with the help of a “special little tube”. And thus, he, at first very small, smaller than a grain of rice, was put inside my belly, and then he grew to become a beautiful baby (I showed him pictures of when he was a baby).
- And why don’t you have a husband? Some of my aunts have a husband, didn’t you find one? – he asked.
Fortunately, the same book had the perfect picture (see picture 2 at the gallery)
There are different ways to live. One person can get married, one person can live alone, one person can live with a cat or a dog or a fish, one person can get together with friends and live with them, one person can live the way he feels like living. I decided to live without a husband, and live for a few years with a son, until the day that son (who happens to be you) decides how he wants to live.
- Then, am I supposed to leave? – asked my four-year-old son, with a wistful glance. And even though I would have very much liked to tell him “yes”, that he had to go and travel around and see the world, I had to answer in a way that would stop those eyes from being mournful and his heart from feeling abandoned. – When you are big, you’ll decide. If you want to stay, there’s plenty of room in the house, and it would be nice to share it with you and play for hours on end building LEGOs®. – My little kid smiled.
- So, a doctor put some cells together, and I got in through your navel. – I nodded. – And that’s why you don’t have a husband. – I nodded again. – Mum, are we a family?
Then, I showed him the last page of the book: (see picture 3 at the gallery).
- There are many kinds of family, SO MANY! A dad and a mum without a kid: they’re a family. Two siblings with no parents, they too are a family. Two friends living together and taking care of each other, they’re also are a family. This picture of the book shows many kinds of family: there are family with two dads, with two mums, families with many kids or with few kids. But I think that this lady here (I pointed at her with my finger) alone with her baby, those could be you and me, Emilia and her son, and yes, we’re a family. Mrs Diana (his nanny) is your mum, because she takes care of you when I’m not here, and my mum is also your mum because she takes care of you when I have to travel. You’re lucky because you have three mums! So, there are also families with three mums, see?
My son understood, and a year later he was able to explain to his teacher at the kindergarten how it was that he came into the world, unhesitatingly, as though it was the most natural everyday thing. The teacher, when I went to pick my son up, let me know what had happened, and that all the kids had listened attentively to my son as he told his story and he elaborated in the “kinds of family” existing in the world.
I asked the teacher how come the subject came up. She told me:
- It was because I asked them to write down the name of the parent that was going to come to the ceremony to be held on Friday, and one of the kids said he didn’t have a father but that his grandmother was coming instead, and another kid started laughing and mocking him for the fact that he was fatherless. It was then that your son snapped: “don’t be an ignorant, surely he comes from the Clinic of Babies the same way I did!”. So, everybody wanted to know what a Clinic of Babies was, and your son calmly told his story”.
I was the proudest mother on Earth. My son not only had told his story with naturality and confidence, but he had also defended a classmate. Just as I was leaving the school, holding my kid’s hand, the teacher added:
- Ma’am, please, keep your son from calling other kids “ignorant”. – I nodded.
But, in all honesty, my son can call “ignorant” anyone who dares to mock another person.