Thursday, May 8, 2008

Single Mom does not = Super Mom

First let me just say that I'm grateful to those who think I'm brave, or strong, or somehow Super Human for raising my child alone (friends, family &/or readers of this dorky little blog) ...

Let me set the record straight right now. I WISH that I had even 1/2 the confidence in myself (or in my ability to parent this sweet little girl) that y'all seem to have in me.

Yeah, I'm probably going to piss some of you off, but here's what I think: Motherhood is a hard ass gig!

And don't let Gloria Steinem or any of the other Wannabe Feminist idiots of the current day tell you any different.

Children NEED fathers in their lives just as much as they need their moms. And I believe that we (women) have done a great disservice to tens of thousands of children over the past 30+ years by swallowing the Great Lie that they don't.

We continue to raise so many of our boys to be irresponsible men; men who think NOTHING of walking away from their kids, not paying child support, not showing up for (or demanding) visitation, and/or knocking up women like it's some kind of game (or donating their sperm to local Fertility Clinics for quickie cash with no regard for all the kids out there who want to know where they came from). Worse, then we talk smack about their fathers & in the same breath deny them the right to see their kids b/c we're pissed off they don't love us anymore.

We raise our girls to think this is all they're worth & then try to soothe them after they end up raising their kids alone by telling them they "can do it without a man to help them", to "be independent, be strong", or "sweetie, you don't really need a Daddy for those kids."

And the cycle repeats, over and over.

I was one of the "lucky" ones in that I was raised in a two-parent home, but I also had a very emotionally distant (unavailable) alcoholic dad & a mom that was, in hindsight, pretty pissed off a lot of the time. If I'd been stuck at home w/ my brother & I all day, with Grumpy Asshole for a hubby, I'd have been pissed too. That wasn't what she signed up for on her wedding day, I'm sure.

So, I grew up in this weird kind of chaos. A mom who loved & adored her kids, but who resented the hell out of her husband. I was constantly seeking the approval of a dad who was(is) completely incapable of giving any (& I've spent most of my adult life doing the same w/ the men I've dated).

What kind of parents did my dad have that this is the end result of his life as a Man and as a Father? What kind of parents raised my daughters daddy that he is so disconnected from his part in creating his three daughters? What about the men who have left my other mom friends holding the parenting bag all by themselves (married or single)?

Is this REALLY the kind of community, society, country, WORLD... that we want? Angry moms, absent dads? And yes, I do know there are daddy's out there who are doing the deal & that it's the moms who bailed, but let's be honest, what is the ratio of that equation?!

G-d, I'm such a jackass to have ever thought I could do this by myself.

Here's the deal. I'm 41 & I am utterly "alone" in raising this precious little girl. It f**king sucks okay? Not b/c I don't have the comfort of a man in my bed, but b/c I feel I am missing out on the SHARED experience of raising her WITH someone. Certainly that means her daddy, but it also means her grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc.

If I'd had ANY idea that this was the legacy I was possibly going to leave her, I'd never ever considered doing the Single Mommy thing. Not even for a nano-second.

Do I regret my daughter? Oh hell no! She's the best thing that ever happened to me. On more than one occasion, she's actually saved my life. It's because of her that I even bother to stick around.

But man, I do wish people would stop telling me how brave I am & offer to hang out with us once and awhile instead. Please know, I'm not trying to sound ungrateful for your kind words of seeming encouragement, at least I think you mean it as such. But I also think it's gonna take a serious village for me to raise this kid & manage to maintain my sanity 80% intact by the time she's grown.

There are days when I really do not think I can possibly do this Mom thing another minute. I cry, a lot. I want to give up, often. I've thought about Open Adoption. I've thought about inventing a time machine so I can un-do joining MySpace. I've considered giving her to my sister who never intended to have just one, or my lesbian friends who desire children so badly.

All these feelings scare the holy crap out of me.

Do I think married women/mothers feel these things too? They tell me they do. But at the end of the day (IMO) they at least still have someone to hand the kid(s) off to when they need a minute to quell the rage that is seething inside, or for something less ominous & dark like a 10 minute shower.

I've been so terrified that I'm becoming one of "those" parents. You know, the ones that scream, yell, cajole, cry, manipulate, bargain, or worst of all, HIT their kids when the frustration levels get too high.

Listen gang, I should know better right? I have the BA degree. My parents were educated. My friends are educated. I'm all White Collar, No Nonsense, Strong Work Ethic Gal. I'm a "late in life" mom & therefore I'm supposed to be more settled, more patient & more "with it" than the 16 year olds who think it's cute to have a baby before they're out of high school, right? I've read all the parenting books & magazines. I've talked to her pediatrician & daycare provider. I've been to therapy & anger management, so I know all the psycho-babble buzzwords. I practice the 12-steps. I have a G-d in my life. I'm not a victim. I know to call my Mom friends, or to simply step away before things escalate.

I should know better, but honestly I don't know jack shit.

I've digressed, as usual. I'm having a hard day; it's not the first & I'm sure it won't be the last.

Bottom line is that I want someone to put their arms around me, tell me it's gonna be okay, and then I want THEM to handle it, just for now. Tomorrow... I promise I'll go back to being Super Mom tomorrow.


Melissa said...

I have older kids, 11 and 7. I have to admit the alone thing when they are older is a bit easier (as far a actual physical demand, emotional is easier too because they aren't teenagers yet). I started younger, at 20 and I was married. My daughter was a surprise and my husband freaked. He didn't run away but went out 3 to 4 times a week. I was alone with her all the time and reading your post makes me feel like I am looking in a mirror.
Eventually, my husband and I separated and I feel guilty all the time about not being able to make it work. I actually continue to live here because it will be closer to their dad, even though I want to move. Even though the girls don't get to see their dad often and he flakes on them all the time.

I hate being a single mom. I hate being the only one who cleans up vomit or takes them to ballet. I hate not being able to have help and I hate having to ask for it.

I wish I lived closer to you then I would help you because I know that you would be there to help back. Thats what we all need to do and even though it sounds like a stupid political catch phrase it does take a village. My neighbor just had a baby and I am constantly doing what I can to make it easier on her.

Besides, I know my girls would love to hang out with your girl. :)
I just want you to know that I completely agree with you. It's a lie to say that women can do it all alone. We all need each other.

Smiling, Beguiling said...

Being the only one who cleans up vomit, changes the 9000th diaper, gives them their bath, brushes their teeth, or sits for hours in urgent care waiting rooms. The only one taking them to the ballet, or to school, or their friends bday
parties & holiday gatherings ALONE every time with all the married parents looking at me smugly while tsk tsking at the same time about how hard it must be for me. Course, I'd was like that even when I was with her dad b/c he was never in town more than a couple days a month anyway, & he was always so tired from his graveyard schedule. There's no winning here, though at least HE got to have a life when he was home & I will never get to be anything but a mom. But there's nothing I can do about any of it b/c NOT being there for her is not an alternative.

ms.sinn said...

I almost cried....partly because it's one of those days, partly because I could have written so much of that.

While there's part of me that knows it's easier for me to do it with their dad physically absent than physically present AND mentally absent, it's still hard.

I deal with the anger and the resentment, and the guilt over my children dealing with me being angry and resentful the few waking hours we have together...

Oh, and more...what with the lack of child support and limited participation...but it's not my blog, so I'll leave it at that.

Just know that there are folks who get it, and hang in there.

Syd said...

I appreciate hearing the truth, not just the fluffy side but the real side too, it's hard. I never doubted it, but hearing your experience is very valuable. Thank you for your bravery (not as a single mom) but as a someone who can speak the truth and do it will love.

Anonymous said...

I love you. My arms are figuratively around you and, as you know, (I hope you know) I am always here to help or support you or give you a break or whatever. I love you and I love love that kid of yours. Please don't hesitate to ask me for help. I am happy and honored to do what I can for you and Dexy.

Crunchy Carpets said...

Hi there,
My heart broke for you when I read this...and I was feeling too lousy to gather my thoughts correctly.

My mom raised me alone after her marriage fell apart. I was like 7.

There was moments when she broke down in tears of frustration over things like trying to change a plug, things breaking in the house...she felt so alone...and cheated too that SOMEONE should have been helping with this stuff.

To this day, she feels that she wasn't a good enough mom to me.

When I think the total opposite.

Your child will feel the same too.

I do think that it DOES take a lot of support. We had cousins and friends who would babysit so mom could go out. Would watch me when I was sick when she had to work..stuff like that.

You need to be able to ask people to help you out when you need it.

It doesn't mean a father figure...Just others to help you make things run a little smoother.

You are doing great and the fact that you DO agonize over this SHOWS how awesome you are.

Syd said...

I appreciate hearing the truth, not just the fluffy side but the real side too, it's hard. I never doubted it, but hearing your experience is very valuable. Thank you for your bravery (not as a single mom) but as a someone who can speak the truth and do it will love.