9 December 2011

Single Mums' Stories 2 - Sarah Hague

Splendifidous Sarah Hague (48)

Sarah is a splendifidous 48 and has been a single mum since 2004.  She used to be married to a ('very controlling') surgeon and has been living in the south of France since 1989. Their two sons are 15 and 10.

Even though she has a partner, she intends to remain a single mother until the boys have left home, at least, saying it's much less stressful like that!

Her beautiful blog is St. Bloggie de Riviere and her books, Floppy the Monster is Nearly Lost Forever, written for kids of 4-ish and Slim the Vegetarian Ogre, for ages 11-16 are available there. There is also a website which contains all the stuff she has been involved with - www.bongollp.com.

Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a single mum. If this conjures up an immediate image of a feckless teenager on benefits, let me put your mind at rest. I’m 48, and a single divorced mum with a full-time job and part-time job as writer and internet business-thingy. It feels like I’ve been a single mum forever because my (now ex-)husband has a very time-consuming job which, when we were married, gave him the perfect excuse not to have anything to do with the kids, including nappy-changing and feeding. So, when divorced, it came as no great shock to find myself 100% responsible for the care of the boys (now 15 and 10). In fact it was a relief because while he played no part in their care, he was, of course an expert and gave his advice freely as to how I should do things.

The single most annoying part of being a single mum is having no one to delegate to. I am the bread-winner, educator, cook (of wholesome, tasty, home-made food), house-keeper, tutor, entertainments manager, chief discipline officer, taxi-driver and punching bag (not literally, natch).
Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I share the house-keeping with a cleaner who comes in once a week. This saves me from becoming a Tasmanian devil of fury and resentment every Saturday morning as I do the task I loathe most – cleaning the sodding house. When I got a pay rise a couple of years ago, I jumped on the opportunity to sign up an official cleaner, with the added advantage of taking half her wages off my taxes – a delightful fiscal niche here in France.

Some bits of being a single mother are better than others. The best bit is having no arguments about how to bring them up, well, that and having the first weekend of every month and some of the holidays off to be with my dearly beloved when the boys go and stay with their father. FREEDOM!

Boys are active, independent creatures, but French bourgeois families like to bring them up as little bourgeois robots so are incredibly strict on discipline, obsessed with school marks, and don’t much care for the development of their individual personalities and talents.

I, on the other hand, believe in bringing up independent boys who understand why they have to work at school (even if I have to nag them to do anything about it), have a fair to middling idea of who they are, know their own minds and are keen, not desperate, to go out into theworld. The result is that I’m known to be a ‘cool mum’ by my sons’ friends.

They are able to be independent and roam pretty freely because of where we live. It took some time for me to find this rented house, but it’s perfectly situated. We live near Montpellier, but not so near that they can just bugger off to the hot spots and get into trouble. The village is very peaceful but everyone keeps an eye on troublemakers. I told my boys that if they wanted to get up to anything naughty they should know in advance that I would get to hear about it. Of course, they tested my hypothesis and found it to be true.

So while it’s frustrating, exhausting, thankless and nerve-wracking, single-mumdom is also entertaining, educational, gratifying (as you see them grow up into young men) and (occasionally) full of joy.

Next - Katy from All Sweetness and Life