Tell A Tale in 500 Words

For The Love Of A Child By Elaine Bennett

By Elaine Bennett

‘Tut, tut’. I look up to see two smartly dressed women peering down at me. I try to pick up my child from the packed supermarket floor. Spread-eagled with one navy blue shoe astray Isabelle my dainty, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, three-year-old was screaming so loud it would break the sound barrier.

I could literally see the thought in lights before my eyes ‘single parent’. How dare they judge me I thought scrambling across the aisle floor on all fours to retrieve the missing shoe now precariously hanging from a stack of tinned peas, whilst making a promise to Isabelle that I had no intention of keeping.

I never intended being a single parent. This was a planned pregnancy, a much wanted child, but returning home one day heavily pregnant and laden with shopping I opened the front door and visualised the remains of a line of cocaine disappearing up the nostril of my partner. His addiction slowly unraveled. Drawn into his lies I sunk into unimaginable depths of despair. Forgiveness was superseded by more forgiveness daily. Our lives had changed beyond all recognition. The abuse, psychological, physical, emotional became the norm as his behaviour spiralled out of control. I felt like a pilot waiting to be ejected from a falling plane. He had hit the self-destruct button and when I found myself driving around at 2am looking for him I knew this was the end.

Isabelle was born following a traumatic labour not a blemish on her peachy, pink skin. Wrapped in a pink blanket I held her so close I could feel her soft breath on my cheek. Hours later the last few weeks of anguish, despair and finally acceptance took their toll. I was unaware of my baby blues and incapacity to function. For twelve weeks my mother became parent of both her child and grandchild, whilst running her own house and juggling a demanding job. A position she never applied for. Staying until I was strong enough to be me again.

In work today I notice coming through the shop doors one of the ladies I recall peering over me in the supermarket. I know if I move she’ll see me. I stand rigid to the spot. Perhaps she’ll walk past unnoticed, I think. Oh no, she’s seen me. Do I know you from somewhere? Just say it I think, ‘Yes, I’m the lady with the noisy child on the supermarket floor’. ‘I came looking for you,’ she said ‘I wanted to know you were alright’. Her eyes welled with tears, ‘I lost my husband in World War II’ she said and ‘I was left with three young children, it’s not easy is it.’

Triumphant I return home. Outside Isabelle shrieks with delight. laughter echoes as she masters riding her bike for the first time. Proudly I smile and say. ‘I’m a one-parent family. I changed my life for the love of a child’.


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