COF­FEE & A CONVO

WITH CATHERINE ROSALION, SIN­GLE MUM TO SE­BAS­TIAN ( 7)

Lift Magazine - - Contents -

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

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