11/03/2015 05:54 GMT | Updated 10/05/2015 06:59 BST

A Single Dad's Apology to His Mother on Mother's Day


Having spent the last forty-some years sponging off my mother, eating her out of house and home, not phoning her unless I want something, ignoring her comments on my choice of girlfriend, turning up late to family occasions and generally being utterly useless when it comes to birthday and Christmas presents, it would be fair to say that I'm not the best son in the world. In fact, I'm not even the best son in my family.

Up until now, come Mother's Day, my mother would have considered herself privileged if I had turned up with the proverbial bunch of garage-bought foliage. In fact, if I had turned up at all she would have been impressed.

But things have changed recently. I have had an epiphany. It's hard being a mother.

'How would you know, you're a man,' the more observant amongst you will be asking.

Well, let me explain.

Last year, my wife and I separated. I am now a predominantly single dad. Predominantly single but always a dad.

My two boys mean the world to me, but it isn't easy being a single parent. I'm not looking for violins, but let me share my typical day with you.

I get up before my children, let the dog out, organise breakfast, referee the early morning fights, explain the purpose of a toothbrush and then rush off to work in the hope that I can trust my boys to lock up the house and get to school before lunchtime. Sometimes they make it.

After working a full day, I rush home to cook turkey twizzlers and smiley faces in the twelve minutes before one or other boy needs ferrying to scouts. I then wash and sometimes even iron clothes for the following day, break-up more fights, maybe start a few of my own, supervise homework, discover dishevelled school uniform in random corners of the house and do my best to have at least one two-way conversation with the boys. As they are teenagers, I invariably fail on this last point.

Last thing at night, I put the boys to bed and then, very soon afterwards because I'm too tired to do anything else, I put myself to bed.

And then it all starts again the following morning.

I cope, but only just.

My change in circumstances has made me appreciate my parents more. My dad wasn't particularly hands-on as a parent so my mother shouldered most of the responsibility. The fact that my siblings and I are relatively well-adjusted people (OK, if I'm honest, my sister isn't that well-adjusted) is in no small part down to my mother.

And she has jumped into the breach again during my recent hour of need. She has been a shoulder to cry on - for me and for my boys. She has converted her house into an emergency doss-house for waifs and stray sons and grand-children, and she has provided food infinitely better than turkey twizzlers and smiley faces.

I won't be the only single parent to rely on my own parents for moral, emotional and financial support. I might, though, be the only one who hasn't said thank you.

I'm sorry I've been such an ungrateful son all these years Mum. I'm sorry for the cheap flowers on Mother's Days gone by. I'm sorry I have normally been the one to eat the chocolates rather than to provide them. And while I am at it, I'm sorry that my dog chewed up your wallpaper when you so generously gave us a roof over our heads last year.

Most of all, I'm sorry for not appreciating you as much as I should have done over the years. I love you loads, and promise to find that Interflora number before Sunday.

By the way, what are you cooking for dinner?

Ben Adams is the author of 'Six Months to Get a Life', the not autobiographical at all tale of a man coming to terms with life after divorce. Follow Ben on Twitter @benadamsauthor.