By: Julie Gamberg
No sooner did I write about the sometimes cluelessness of partnered families toward single parent families, then I got an email from a fellow single mom by choice that seemed just as clueless, with clueless gravy on top. Clueless in the let’s-give-each-other-some-mutual-support way (or, more accurately, let’s not). And a little bit bitter. And maybe little bit sanctimonious? And I thought, do I sound like that? Bitter or sanctimonious about doing it on my own.
I’ve never met this mom, but she’s part of a small group of moms who have been trying to find a time to meet in person. She invited people to her house, which is a bit of a drive for most of the group, at 11:30 a.m. and I wrote back that my little one tends to go down around 12:30 or 1, so perhaps we could meet a bit earlier?
No, she wrote.
And then, perhaps forgetting that I had written her after she introduced herself with details of her circumstances when our little group first “met” by email, to tell her that I was a single mom by choice too! Who works full-time too! (Kind of a “Hello! Be my friend!” to which she did not respond), further response to my time change request read: “As a single mom who works FT, my son has never had the luxury of a strictly followed regimen… naps sometimes get delayed or skipped.” Ouch.
Luxury of naps? So bourgeois! Like meals. Or sleeping at night. Or having a poopy diaper changed. Those middle class American urbanites who really have it rough have to forgo the petty indulgences that most of us take for granted. They keep their babies up when tired!
Another mom who was copied on the email pointed out to me that the nap delayer/skipper had previously said she is feeling overwhelmed. This other mom is a kind, kind woman who makes me feel like a baby-eating troll.
I analyze my feelings about the nap delayer/skipper and I think about how we are sometimes repelled by those who are needing an extra lot of help. There is a mean part of my brain that thinks: I guess you shouldn’t have had a child if you couldn’t take care of him! And then I think of when my little one was outrageously colicky in her first few months and how thoroughly drowning I was, and how rough that was on those closest to me.
And that leads me to, of course, think of wilderness survival stories.
In wilderness survival stories there is always a pragmatist who wants to withhold the food and water from the already dying and reserve it for those-who-could-possibly-make-it. And then there is always a softie who sneaks the dying some water, some comforting pain relief instead of keeping it for the poor sod who needs to have his broken bone reset with just a jagged stone as a knife and a bare branch to bite into.
I generally think of myself as the softy in that situation – the one who can’t bear to see immediate suffering in the hopes of averting some future suffering which may or may not come to pass. But maybe I’m the pragmatist. The one who says buck up sister … we’re all in the same woods and if I can make it without water – me who adores water, well then surely you can trudge along too. If I can figure out how to get my fussy, fussy little one down for her much needed sleep … well you get the idea. I seem to be the obnoxious just-in-case water hoarder.
And I also realize that in the same way you can’t stick two seven-year-olds together and claim that since both are kids they will surely become fast friends, just finding other women who have chosen to have children on their own does not ensure that I am suddenly in gracious, tolerant company. Or, for that matter, that I am gracious, tolerant company.