Jay hand feeding the seagulls at Manly Beach – 9th June 2016
Last night my son, Jay, called from Australia. I love hearing from him and since he’s been away I’ve thought alot on how we battled along when he was young.
I was pretty much a single mum. Of course I had men in my life. I was easy on the eye so naturally men drifted around the proverbial honey-pot. At one point I was working three jobs and still picking Jay up from school and being a full-time mum. I went to a women’s gym and learned wrestling and kick-boxing. Jay would come with me to the gym. He loved it – all of the women cooed over him, played with him and taught him some moves which he promptly practiced on his mates at school and got into trouble for.
I had a nanny job from 3 pm till 7 pm during the week which Jay could also come to. The little boy I was looking after was the same age as Jay and they had a great time playing while I cleaned up the house, chucked a wash on and got dinner sorted before we started some homework which meant Jay got his done too. So like all single mums I juggled. I had a house cleaning job during the day before school ended and also was selling international phone time and signing people up for cheaper international calls. I look back and wonder where on earth did I get all of that energy from? Like a little energizer batteried bunny I just kept going and going and going. My parents were not here in NZ at the time and Jay’s father just seemed to forget about him. Both of his parents were dead, he was a fair bit older than me and had already experienced this loss, therefor Jay didn’t have fraternal grandparents and his maternal ones were in South Africa – a million miles away. So I had no family here and therefore no baby-sitters. I couldn’t afford to pay someone and have money to go out as well.
My main focus was to make sure our home was of a particular standard and that we were located next to the best schools within the district. And that our cat, Gorgeous George, was allowed. Those were critical things I required when renting a property.
So I worked super hard and was a high achiever at pretty much anything I did – even cleaning a fricken toilet was worth my integrity. Anyway, I wanted to give Jay everything. When he was really little of course, he didn’t care, but as he got older and was influenced by the media and peers, things changed. He wanted brand named clothes and shoes etc. It was really hard. It was hard to say I can’t do that or I don’t have that. He had feelings of anger towards me as he grew up into that ‘tween’ stage. He struggled to understand that I had been prepared to leave money, boats and a glamorous life behind me. He didn’t understand that I had taken the most important thing. That nothing but he, Jay, was the most precious thing for me to take. His father didn’t want him, he wasn’t prepared to participate physically, financially or emotionally in Jay’s life.
Even though all of the correct papers were filled out with the divorce and him agreeing to me having full custody, he never financially supported us. I did it on my own. Jay’s father managed to wangle out of any requirement to help support his son. Do you know, the government determined that the father should pay $11.00 a week towards Jay’s keep. That’s why I had 3 jobs. That’s why things were really hard and I had no family to fall back on. Jay and I were the family. I tried to make a family, I wanted a father-figure in Jay’s life. I couldn’t be a mum and a dad. I was a mum, that’s where all my instincts, hormones and chemicals took me – to Mumsville. I didn’t know how to be a dad and neither did I want to.
So we battled along, and it truly was a struggle – we went through the ups and downs of life. We both survived and came out the other end. Now, my beautiful son is so his own person, in spite of the hard times, or is it because of them? When he was in his early twenties and working at real jobs, his money just vanished. He would buy $300 pairs of jeans or shoes, a $75 T-shirt, after shave – living a champagne lifestyle on a beer salary. We had many arguments about money. I gave him money and helped him out, perhaps when I shouldn’t have – in fact many times I think I should have let him flounder but it was just not in me as a mother to watch my son flounder. See, that’s when a father is needed, some hard arse stuff!
Off Jay goes to Oz, he knows he needs to get away to grow and find himself. While I was available it was easy for him to fall back on me. Now, on his own in Australia he was living his own life. He learned who he was and has defined himself. It all comes back to that phone call last night that made my heart swell up so big. Last night he said he realized money was not what he wanted in life. What he wanted was to make a difference in the world. It is one of the proudest moments I have had. Only a few years ago, when I was at university, I had a piece of paper stuck to my wall with:” I will make a difference!” written on it in black marker pen. I woke up every day and went to sleep every night seeing that piece of paper and believing in myself and what I was doing. I wanted to help children and make a difference. Jay saw that paper, he saw my determination, he saw my passion. The parallel belief between myself and my son tells me something. It tells me that I have done the right thing. He wants to save the world, he wants to spread peace, harmony and love. I am so proud of him and there is a sense of relief for me – kind of like my job is done here, but of course not. I have much to do – even from my bed, but not as much as Jay!
Jay will make a difference, he already has and will keep walking that walk – you deserve all things good, my son.