By: Julie Gamberg
Last month, in a playful moment, I goofily asked my growing-up-way-too-fast almost twenty-month-old, “Are you a baby, or are you a child?” She replied, “A baby and a child.”
Last week, my baby-child had a cut on the top of her foot. She scratched off the scab and was scratching at the wound in a way that looked painful. “Mama help get it off me,” she said, referring to the raw wound. And I realized that me and my baby-child were together looking at her first wound – the first thing that had actually scabbed. And that she thought this abrasion, this thing marring the smoothness of her skin, was what was causing her pain. How to explain to a baby-child about cuts and wounds? About picking and healing? About causing our own pain sometimes?
I’ve been at this single mothering thing a little while now, and I’ve recently taken some stock. One clear thing that’s happened over time is that I see myself more and more as a “mom” and less and less as a “single mom”. The more I feel comfortable – confident even sometimes – in the role of parenting, the more “parent” takes precedence.
However, my online single moms group has recently been discussing the “daddy question”, reminding me that I’m not near out of the woods on the single parent’s issues yet. (And let’s not even think about dating!) When and how do you answer questions about daddy? What do you say? I used to obsess about this when I was thinking about conceiving.
Now that I have a little one, I haven’t thought about this issue in … possibly a year. Yet I am so happy and grateful that there are smart, wise, thoughtful parents who have come before me and left some breadcrumbs of ideas of how to address these complicated questions. But I’m also realizing that how to address complex family structures with little ones is a very young field and we have only a few voices advising us. I realize I’m going to have to pay some attention again soon, because soon my baby-child is going to be a child-child, and will well understand that she can’t pick the owie off of herself to make it stop hurting, and will then have even trickier questions for me.