This morning I listened to ‘Natural Histories’ with Brett Westwood on Radio 4. I can hardly believe the effect a 30 mins programme can have! Heart beating with excitement, and, honestly, pure joy… listening to an exploration of the dung beetle – in poetry, literature, music and art.
As one of the contributors mentioned, when describing how the dung beetle navigates using the Milky Way, it makes his chest ‘feel expansive’… such astounding wonder! I feel this too - and also when listening to these programmes!
Artist Billy Childish performed his dung beetle song and an entomologist described how they are ‘relentlessly optimistic creatures’ and that you can see it in their eyes 😊 It takes 20 mins to create their dung ball and then, if a female comes along, she climbs onto it, walking backwards on top of it, like a great circus act, whilst the male rolls it along, backwards! in an astonishingly straight line… oriented by the stars.
How beautiful and comical and deeply poetic …. x
And Sarah Watkinson’s beautiful poem x
DUNG BEETLES NAVIGATE BY STARLIGHT*
I track my treasure home on star beams, hide
my finds in caverns, steer them clean away,
before I’m stranded in the clueless day
with all my musky gleanings dull and dried.
Straightness is all. The constellations guide
my angled legs. The facets of each eye
lock on to glimmers. Sensed how? Who can say?
The system works for me. I’m satisfied.
I know those lines of light shine down for me,
the dung deposited on dewy ground
a providence. Through moonless dark I see
in multiple dimensions beacons round,
and every blessed night miraculously
Precipitates new turds for me to find.
*Dacke, M et al., 2012. Dung beetles use the Milky Way for orientation. Current Biology.
From Norwich Writers’ Circle Open Poetry Competition 2013 Anthology, poems selected by George Szirtes
A while ago I created a felting of a woodlouse and moon, inspired by a celestial woodlouse in conversation with a poet... and have created needle-punch sketches of beetles, flies, grasshoppers, woodlice and snails ...and a Moloch Horridus.... there's something about the tiniest of creatures, or the seemingly most reviled....something sacred and divine....as all of us.
To all single mothers, through all the types of despair, uncertainty, guilt, shame, sadness and loneliness, joy and wonder, that can only be felt by you, who have experienced parenting in this way.
To all the single mums who are always the ones who cook, clean, shop and take the bin out, make the meals, tuck their child in at night, do the school runs, take to see friends, read the stories and poetry.... (all such honours! x but always all alone) decide on rewards, what is ok, what’s not...the worries about ‘one-sidedness’ and trying to represent all sides to the child!... the chats, totally by themselves, every single day. To the hard graft of parenting, the emotional stings and fears and uncertainties, the guilt, the joys and wonders and experiencing all these alone with your child. The gripping financial fears, the sorting out of bills, phoning, utilities, banks, always alone, the dread of looking at the bank balance, the working tax credit letters through the door, the worries about buying new school shoes, a replacement PE kit when lost. The huge fear of car breakdowns, and the costs, the replacements, the MOTs... organising all of these things alone.
To all the single mums longing for a family for their child, and in some cases having to keep themselves healthy and strong meaning certain life-long, destructive family relationships falling away when boundaries are disrespected over and over and painful dramas mean they have to say no more. The priority must be in keeping well for themselves and their child. To all the kind and gentle mums who suffer years of guilt and fear over their choices, and how others, unknowing, may judge, but here's to the mums who know in their heart how necessary and right this is and who trust in their own knowing.
To all the single mums of a single child who worry over holidays, school holidays, weekends and long for family to get together, perhaps even holiday together, to feel the closeness and shared times of family. Even though this, too can feel sad as when a child is little they may sense the loss of what they don’t have, especially when the holiday ends and you are both at home again.
To all the mothers and children who grow into the knowing that a one parent family can be beautifully enough and full of joy...and challenges! and all the other ups and downs and learnings of larger families, and that nurturing a warmth of love for ourselves and all situations gives such true strength, empathy and sensitivity, for ourselves and others in all types of situation as we grow and experience though life. To all the family members who recognise this and support where they can, and who show such love and care, it is so very much appreciated and loved and would always be reciprocated wherever possible. To all the wonderful male role models in families, your presence is so very loved and treasured.
To all the single mums who take their children on holiday alone, such an achievement!! The planning, the travelling, the sharing, the fears that the child might feel lonely, (the joys when you realise they don't! and you have a wonderful adventure), the creative organisation due to very limited financial resources, the saving each month over a year, the extra weekend cleaning jobs you do. To all the single mums who acknowledge their own worries and lack of confidence, letting these fears be there, but not running the show :).
To all the single mums who say no to relationships for the sake of being in a relationship, and to those who say no more to abusive relationships with grown men who behave like entitled angry children and threaten violence and hatred in their impotence. To all the mothers who know that an abusive or uninterested/ emotionally unavailable father or step-father at home can be far more damaging than no father at all.
To all the mums who want good, enriching male role models for their sons and feel happy when there are good male teachers in their child’s school. To all the great male teachers, thank you so much - your influence goes so far beyond the classroom.
To all the mums who always attend school events alone, parents evenings, seeing the teacher, awards evenings, Christmas nativities, school plays, and looking around at all the other families, and the sense of loss and sadness for your child, and yourself, especially in the early days. To all the mums who feel a bursting with pride and joy but have no one to share this with. To all the mums who try to balance all of this so well so that the child doesn’t take on these emotions. To all the mums who talk openly a little about their feelings in these areas with their child, when their child is old enough, always reassuring that things are ok, whilst also being truthful and showing that all emotions are ok too, it’s good and important to express these and to listen when their child also expresses how they feel, welcoming all feelings, angers, upsets, joys and worries as they come and go.
To all the single mums agonising over working hours, home hours, wanting to be there for their child but being the single earner, on top of the clash of a job that sometimes causes illness. To the single mothers who feel pressurised to go back to work too soon, perhaps even before their child is 6 months old, perhaps even whilst in the midst of post-natal depression and aloneness. To all the mums in the grip of conditioning and ought tos and shoulds, from the birth of their child, it is such a huge weight and pressure to bear.
To all the mums who are dads too and who cry at night, wondering if they are ‘enough’ and how their child will ‘turn out’. Such a gripping, overwhelming fear especially in the first 10 years, but never really going away. To all the mums who develop such a new strength that also frees their child to be who they are, to compromise, to learn, to trust in the knowledge that actually they are doing a brilliant job and to know, too that their child is following their own path. To all the children who grow up knowing and trusting their own strength and sensitivity.
To all the single mums who nurture themselves and show self-compassion and love, and in doing so are teaching their children to do the same.
To all the mums who do their best, make mistakes and can forgive themselves. And also forgive themselves for 'wrong'/damaging relationship choices in the past, to realise they were stuck in repeating extremely damaging patterns full of self-negation and sadness from childhood. To all the mums who are open and growing and becoming conscious beings, bolder and brave in facing their fears, honouring their past, working hard and moving through, learning and connecting with the new.
To all the single mums being more of who they truly are, even a little bit, more and more, not hiding, not afraid, and therefore a beautiful role model to their child.
To all the mums who help to show their child how utterly amazing they are, just as they are, already, unconditionally - not in an ego sense, but as the miraculous spark of life they are, as we all are. And to the mums who behave in ways where this is felt by the child, too - not just told. We show each other who we are, not in words alone, but in actions and interactions.
To all the mothers who know and trust, with heart, that their child will find their own way, with so much love, knowing how loved and loveable they are.
To all mothers who wake up and learn so much wisdom from their children and are given the miraculous chance to reparent themselves, in becoming the parent they too would have loved to have. To all the wise, wise children.
To all the single mums who have never had a baby, a toddler, a five year old, a 7 year old, a 10 yr old, a teenager and who feel so very blessed amongst the ever-new challenges, sadnesses, fears, emotions, practical difficulties as a single parent, the loneliness, and who hide most of it but who find support where they can, perhaps even in online supportive communities, and increasingly in their own recognition that if they listen, in the silence, their own wisdom shows them the way and gives them all the strength and love they need.
To all the single mothers who juggle all of this with jobs, maybe 2 or 3 and still experience disapproval from others that they are not doing enough. To all the mothers who still yearn to help others, and love that their job has helped others believe and achieve in their studies, and knows this because they are told again and again by their students.
To all the single mothers who begin, little by little, at a point in their own healing to feel they can give even more back and help other women, those who have experienced family relationships/partners with NPD and who can shift the focus from those other parents/partners and the repeating patterns, back to themselves and their children, and their own healing, strength and beautiful lives. It takes such dedication and hard work and without any doubt is the best surety against destructive and desperately sad patterns repeating through yet another generation. Healthy, happy mum certainly helps to equal healthy, happy child x
To all the single mothers who begin to start listening to their hearts, to begin living authentically, embracing their sensitivity, irrespective of how others define them or tell them who they are. To mothers who pay no heed anymore to the boxes/definitions/projections others have seemingly put them in and suffocated them with before.
To all the single mothers who start to build a business from scratch, who dare to be brave and show their work... whether writing, artwork, anything! Who, alongside all the fear and self-doubt and worry, start from the bottom, on their own, learn the basics whilst also working through the night to produce original works to sell, who then reach out to others more experienced, who work hard and learn and learn and then go to the day jobs... and the home jobs ...To all the mums who Still experience from family/others that they are not working/doing enough... I say to these beautiful mothers... Stop! Please please stop looking for their approval... how others feel about you is Not really anything to do with you, but their own agendas/issues/whatever! There will be some people who Never think you are enough or behaving or doing things as you ‘should’, even those you love... and That is ok. It might hurt for a bit, or forever, but it is still ok xxxx please please do Not let this dishearten you. And certainly do not take on these opinions yourself, they do not belong to you. You know who you are and all that you do xxx
To all the single mothers whose sons grow up respectful of women, their strength and resilience and sensitivities and old sexist stereotypes do not register with them. To all the sons and daughters who learn self-respect and loving kindness and so contribute to creating a compassionate world.
To all the single children who are so kind and thoughtful, who have felt so lonely at times, without siblings or a responsible father they see regularly. To all the mums whose heart breaks for their child still, a little bit, when they write those words.
To all the children of single mums who are thriving and happy and full of life and empathy for others! Who are funny, kind, bright and amazing teachers to their mums, in ways they may never fully know xx
To all the single mums and children who have inadvertently received such healing gifts x
To all the beautiful single mothers and beautiful sons and daughters xxx