When they learn to walk, shelves fall. They learn to talk, they say they hate you. They’re out of diapers, and wetting the bed. They go to school, and learn rude rhymes.
Mommyhood, this beautiful opportunity is wasted on me. I have the chance to give all my love to this little person, to help them grow and live a life not only fulfilling to themselves but beneficial for the world around them. I can produce a globally conscious human being who can change the world but I can’t even make her go to bed; to get the rest needed to do anything productive. I pass out from trying, while she sits on her bed watching Monster House and drawing vampire bats.
I can’t pee with the door closed because she’ll force it open. I haven’t had a proper meal in forever because she and the cats seem to conspire against me, and spill the milk at just the right time.
The same child I would kill for is whom I hide under my covers from. When will I take a breath and enjoy the beauty of parenthood when I am too busy messing everything up?
My ringlet crowned darling will say the darndest thing, say something truly amazing, and I’m too tired to express my pride. It seems all I do is scream, dish out threats I’m not entirely willing to fulfill. If I don’t go through with these coercions, my daughter won’t have consistency in her life. She will grow up moving from one empty relationship to another, deal drugs and end up in jail ruing the day she was born. That day, by the way, is my fault. Ah the constant feeling of inadequacy!
Growing up at Nonna’s house, crucified Jesus hanging from that little Italian lady’s walls, you’d think I had mastered guilt. If there were a degree of some sort I’d receive it without having to apply. But no, parenthood, single motherhood, that’s a whole other guilt-laden animal.
It is said that raising a child takes a village, at the very least a partnership. There are no breaks, no handing her off for a few minutes. I’m the hated parent, the nurturer, the disciplinarian. It’s my fault when things go wrong, when her lunch isn’t perfectly balanced and when her socks don’t match. I can’t even match my own socks. When things go right, I have no one to celebrate with. How selfish of a statement, isn’t the celebration of her achievement the achievement itself? Oh I feel guilty now.
I scour the piles of school notices, knowing if I recycle them without a glance I’ll miss the one warning of a school wide lice contamination. I’m the one braving the underbelly of what I hope is juice stained secondhand cushions, to ensure my kid isn’t left out of Pizza Day. Extra curricular activities, birthday parties, time outs, sticker charts; all on me.
I visit Facebook and see pictures attacking single mothers. “The government is not your babies [sic] daddy,” followed by comments calling single-mothers lazy, followed by ruder language. I comment that said picture may not be depicting the whole story. I’m not on Ontario Works personally, but as a mother and a woman, I’m offended. You can’t get an income from a paying job without a sitter. You can’t afford a sitter without the cash. And why is it assumed mothers are stealing from hardworking citizens? Because bringing up the next generation is a breeze.
I keep hearing that single moms are stupid for not expecting the amount of work and money it takes to raise a child. The father is never mentioned. Life happens, there is no being ready for a child. To be entirely prepared is to be a fortuneteller. A human life must be cared for, no matter the circumstance.
Most single mamas are not on the prowl for a dude to support them. If a relationship is pursued, chances are they are for the same reasons non-parents seek companionship. Sex, cuddles and support are all cool things.
Single lady mommies are not all looking for a brand new father for their spawn. My daughter has a dad, whether I’m with him romantically or not. I don’t need to force her to call another man her father. I will let my partner and her decide what their relationship is. I will be in a relationship for love, not to add a new parent to the roster. (Extra help would be awesome, but any parent in any situation would say that.)
While I’m vowing it will be better for my baby than it was for me, the world is sending me another message. I deserve it. As a mother I deserve it. As a single mother I asked for it. As an abused partner I wanted it. Hell, let’s be honest, because I’m a woman, I had it coming.
And this confusion that I feel, being born female, is amplified by giving birth to a female. No pressure or anything, but despite everything I know to be true and everything I learned growing up, I can’t let my little girl grow up to feel like me. There’s no report card, no set of fail proof instructions. Though there is a market of self-help books, fitness classes and nosey strangers who try to make me sway to the otherwise.
If anything it is “character building blah blah blah,” it’s a “journey yadda yadda yadda.”
I want to show how much I care, but it’s hard when my head is constantly held under murky waters. How do other mothers do it? Don’t tell me, I’ll shoot the messenger.
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