My oldest son has passed his final year of his degree!

Thank you….…you may all be seated! Yes…….I have indeed shaken my own hand and patted myself on the back since I heard the news, late yesterday afternoon. Yes, I know, I do have something to proud of.

What’s was that you said? Yes………I am totally aware that this is my son’s achievement? Of course he worked hard on it. Yes, on some level, the fact that the Josh Groban song ‘’You Raise Me Up’’, which was played at my husband’s funeral, came on during a series I was watching on the night of the 24th November, the eve before the 15th Anniversary of his death, the day before the results came out, might…… possibly…… perchance…. be interpreted as his presence and energy willing the positive results. But listen here good people….let me have my moment….have a heart!!!

Today, I have woken up to partially digesting, and not close to processing and even further from comprehending that my son has passed his postgraduate in Accounting Science.

 I don’t think people can ever understand how the tough moments in one’s parenting journey are magnified as a single mom. Literally, it is twice as hard emotionally. But, on the flipside the pride of a single mom is sooooooooo much sweeter. You will never understand that either!!

I kind of get it that people don’t understand. It is like when you are pregnant with your first child (you know….toooootally oblivious to what lies ahead), and everyone says ‘’enjoy your sleep while you can.’’ ‘’Eeeeugh, never needed much sleep anyway’’, you exclaim, not having even an inkling of an idea how you will never have a ‘’pre-children’’ night’s sleep EVER AGAIN!  

For the most part, people do empathise with us single moms, but the timing is inaccurate. Not their fault, you understand. They just do not know any better. How could they?

Rumour has it that there are different types of empathy. For instance, there is the cognitive, which is pretty much knowing how the other person feels. For me, I think that is how most people interpret empathy.

But there is also emotional empathy, which is when you physically feel what others are feeling. In other words, you will have a hundred percent understanding of WHEN we are going through it.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing you can do for us. We just need to be understood and tolerated. Not taken for irrational single mothers who overreact to everything. EVERYTHING IS MAGNIFIED! That eye rolling and intolerance by people of your every thought, just try understand……our fears are real!

Now, I seem to be….for the most part….and I mean like 99.9% part, surrounded by people, many of whom have provided cognitive empathy over the years. People have always assumed it is the day to day parenting that requires the empathy. ‘’I don’t know how you do it?’’. ‘’Well done for doing such a fantastic job’’.  Well during that period one simply does what is required of them…… what anyone else would do in the same position.

During those times, there are not a lot of huge decisions to be made that have huge financial implications, no life changing decisions for you, your kids or a family as a whole. Sure, I taught my kids respect, manners and life skills….or did I???…..Who knows, fact of the matter is they have them…or do they???….urrrgh, let’s just move on shall we….

So to get back to MY achievement of my son’s achievement, there were decisions…hard decisions and judgment calls. More importantly there were UNILATERAL judgment calls that were required. No one to discuss or debate the issue with.  I mean, sure there were people….. my people, family members, colleagues, etc. But what did they know about my son, my finances and so on? Nothing……zip.

So my son was never an ardent scholar (a huge understatement). Not lazy, mind you, just lacked confidence. Naturally, what goes hand in hand with a lack of confidence, is the need do better to feel better, and thereby building the dreaded low levels of self esteem and confidence from strength to strength. However, until that pivotal moment occurs, your confidence levels steadily drop!

It was only around Grade 10 when he started to realize that he could actually do what everyone else had been doing. With this, he started getting more confidence, working harder, and probably the biggest motivation for him was to show all those people who had not believed in him, that he could do it!! And do it he did! He worked like a machine, and he went from strength to strength.

Now I know what you are thinking. ‘’That was all him….how do you possibly steal that credit??’’ Well, I don’t…….yet.

Next, he came to me and said he wants to go to University to get an Accounting degree. I was shocked, to say the least. I mean, yes, he was working harder, doing better and believing in himself more. But honestly, how does one go from having an allergic reaction to academics, to being capable of passing such a degree. Financially, we were not that family that could afford to pay for tertiary education to bide the child’s time to discover himself, or to decide which path he wants to follow. No…not even an option.

I am also one of those rare breeds of mothers that does not feel the need to force my kids to get a tertiary education. I am an ardent believer that there are so many opportunities for kids if they are hard working, ambitious and focused. I believe a large percentage of students, because they are forced to study, spend years wasting what could have been the period where they worked on their future, and were already on their way. But noooooooooo, my child, who was so fortunate not to have that parent, still wanted to study further!!

So we applied…he was accepted…..we spoke…..’’I will pay for one year, and if you don’t pass, I am absolved from funding any further studies’’, I told him. Well, he put me to shame. He studied like a champion….he excelled beyond my expectations….and he continued. Now I know you are still thinking, ‘’that was all him….how do you possibly steal that credit??’’ Well, I don’t…….yet.

The further we…..okay…..he….. got, the more determined he was. With this came anxiety, stress, lack of sleep and simply years of manic emotions. Oh, and he felt that way too! My other son and were expected to tiptoe around the house (and if you see the beast that is my other son, you will know this is not an easy expectation), put up with mood swings, try not to sneeze…cough……breathe. There were arguments that transpired from the frustrations of all involved. There were pimples, twitches, rashes….Oh and for him too.

There were a couple of times where I asked myself whether these studies could continue. Major decisions I had to make all on my little one some. No bloody empathy there!

Then there were the holidays, when the obsessive studies stopped…people could sneeze…cough……breathe…..except me. Then the obsessive mom surfaced. Where was he? Was he on the road? Was he safe? What time would he come home? Please keep him safe!!! He was last online at 12h05?? That was 10 minutes ago….why???? Again… sleep!! Again….empathy….no….being told by other parents that they have those worries too…..yes. Really though…..TIMES TWO?? I think not!! You and your spouse could calm each other down. Reason with each other. Me…alone in the house….except for sleeping child. He needed to sleep. He was exhausted from the lack of oxygen resulting from the prohibition on breathing too loud!

People just assumed the hard part of being a single mom was over. Huh, not in a million years!! It was just beginning.

The week before his finals, and at 2am in the bloody morning…..he posed the question, or rather raised the scenario of whether it might be an option just not to write his final exams. Now, we were both stressed, overly anxious AND LACKING SLEEP, so please bear that in mind. ‘’Whaaaaaaaaaaaat??????’’ I screamed as quietly as possible as I didn’t want to wake the other child. Still catching up on sleep. ‘’I have no idea what the hell you are even saying?? I thought you had grown up and matured into a sensible young adult!!’’ As he strolled out the room….irritated with me…….can you believe…..telling me that I should be more supportive of his mental state of mind……there was no empathy……no one to see how much harder it gets to be a single mother as they get older. Nope….to them, the hard part was over.

What was I to do? Encourage him to write the exams? Launch myself across the room, grab him in a choke hold, and proceed to tell him he has wasted his time and my money? In my singledom, I had to make a split second decision, which could change the course of his life, my life and even the sleeping child’s life!

Yes, of course the purpose of the exercise is to invest in your child’s future. In fact this was your duty! But what good would that do, if you spent all your money doing that, and then had to be his responsibility later in life? Or what would have been the purpose if he doesn’t finish, and that so bright future suddenly looked dim…and you would still be supporting him in 30 years…with no money, because you had spent it all ON HIS EDUCATION!!!!!

That daughter in law (who I don’t know yet….neither does he, but I do already know, is not good enough for him), would not be too happy if I became my son’s dependant!! She would want all his money to herself. It would cause marital discord….what would I do???

So what did I do, you ask, that leads me to the assumption that I deserve a pat on the back? I did nothing. He went to his room to dreaming about a mother that would have been more supportive, I screamed expletives under my breath (quietly…..sleeping child remember), and he became sensible again. So….again…..all him……damn!!!

Anyway….long story short, he did it. My determined, hard working and insistent precious son did it!! He did it all on his own……with a little help from his mom!!

Congratulations my amazing child. May your future be everything you wish for….and more.  My love, admiration and respect for you will never be surpassed.

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