COFFEE & A CONVO
WITH CATHERINE ROSALION, SINGLE MUM TO SEBASTIAN ( 7)
How long have you been a single mum?
Almost 8 years
How old was your son when you became a single mum?
I was 12 weeks pregnant, so ‘in utero’, I guess!
What does the word family mean to you and did it change when you became a single mum?
A family is made up of people who love each other and are committed to being together, and they usually, but not necessarily, live together.
I don’t know if my perception of what a family is changed, but I became a lot more aware of what society thinks of as a family. Society’s view really is the two parents and kids idea. I noticed it because a lot of people told me that my son and I weren’t a real family. And it really did bother me.
There weren’t any single mum playgroups when my son was old enough to join and I found that being a single mum, you go to play group or mother’s group and everyone mostly complained about their husbands and partners and I just felt like I didn’t fit in, although at least I didn’t have that to complain about! So in a funny way, that did make me feel grateful for what I had and made me see being a single parent family in a more positive light.
Do you think the traditional idea of family is changing?
I think it is slowly changing simply because there’s more diversity now, but there does need to be more recognition of that diversity, the same as gay and lesbian families.
I chose to leave a violent relationship and my family definitely had the idea that children need two parents and that children of single parents will end up as drug addicts or in jail. It’s so important that children have male and female role models
FAMILY TO ME IS MORE THAN FLESH AND BLOOD - IT'S A LITTLE WORLD CREATED BY LOVE
but that can come from so many places. I find it funny because I tried to enrol my son in activities with male coaches and instructors and we kept getting switched to females! I’ve started thinking about adolescence now. I remember when I went through it and I’m already figuring out how to handle that and who is going to be explaining some of the boy stuff that goes on!
All the parenting courses I’ve done have also been based around the two parent structure - they talk about leaving the children with the other parent or about sharing chores; it’s still based on very traditional ideas.
What can we do to change that? Or do we need to do anything?
Maybe we need to be showing the benefits of single parents families and family dynamics. We get represented in a negative light a lot, there’s still this general idea that if you ‘re a single parent family you need to be felt sorry for and that’s really not the case, so the successful single parent families need to be promoted and recognised more. And you know, it is starting to filter through – I mean Nemo’s dad was a single parent! So if Disney is catching on, we’re starting to get somewhere.
Where have you found support to raise your family?
Mainly friends. My extended family are close by but they haven’t been accepting of my choices so most of my support network are single mums and single mums via IVF. I do have two-parent families as friends but they’re quite focused on their own family unit, which is fine, but usually on the weekends they’re busy doing other things.
What do you think the key is to creating strong bonds as a single parent family?
Regular quality time. I let everything that can wait (like the dishes), just wait until after bed.
What are your favourite things to do that make you feel like you’re a family?
We love to travel together – we’ve done trips to Vanuatu, Queensland and we’re about to go to the US for 6 weeks. We’re joining up with Single Parents, Active Kids over there – they have activities and camps. A lot of my single parent friends have come through them.
Have you created any new family traditions with Sebastian that you hold dear?
They’ve changed over the years. We used to do a Friday night pizza and DVD night, but now Sebastian just loves cuddle time on the couch. Oh, and pancake breakfast on Sunday mornings. We also make sure we sit down and eat meals together so we have time to talk and connect. * You can find out more about Single Parents, Active Kids here: singleparentsactivekids.org