OKAY, my friends were right. My conservative, stay-at-home mother friends, many of who live in Spokane and whom I’ve known my whole life. Who were very supportive, but skeptical and tried not to be worried about me when I announced that I was going to become a single mother by choice and adopt a baby. One of them even said to me, “It’s best that the mother stays at home.” And oh how I resented that comment. I figured they lived in the olden days and that they didn’t understand how a big city gal like me would handle it.
Oh I was so naïve. Oh they were so right. So, this is what I think: I don’t think it matters what the sex is of the parents, but I think there should be two parents. Or I should say two adults. And I don’t think it matters what the sex is of the parent who is primarily responsible for a child, I just think someone, some adult should be. CAUSE IT’S A FULL, FULL, TIME; OVER-TIME job, without being distracted with things like…oh…a JOB. Like an actual job. Like a job that brings in money, not just the kind that wipes you out like never before and doesn’t earn you a cent.
I do not have regrets. Becoming a mom was absolutely the best thing I ever did. By far. By an enormous margin. I am a completely different person for having become a mother. For example, I am much less judgmental of others and I appreciate my own parents a lot more and I don’t think I’m good at everything anymore and I don’t think anything is easy.
May I please rant a little bit? Okay. I HATE it when women tell me that they are just like single mothers because their husbands work so many hours. This just drives me bananas. That is not like being a single mother. That’s like being a mother who gets to be a mother full time. That means that you get to do what I wish I could do, which is just be the mom. Also, these women don’t realize that their husbands, even if they don’t do anything at all in terms of child rearing or anything around the house, they don’t realize that they can actually get up early and go to the grocery store while their child sleeps. Because most of these women, I would imagine, trust their husbands at least to sleep in the house with their child and have their child remain unharmed. But I cannot do that. Or, if the dog hasn’t been walked all day and he’s going crazy, I bet, after their kids were in bed they would trust their husband to keep the fort down for an hour while he watched TV so she could walk the dog. Or even, I dare say…walk the dog himself? And I imagine these husbands who are described as doing nothing DO do things like talk to the insurance man about how much life insurance to get – something that seems like nothing, a little conversation, a momentary decision, but if you try to have this conversation while you are making someone’s lunch and helping them with math homework IS HARD AND DIFFICULT. It even renders the person unable to come up with better adjectives than “hard” and “difficult,” even if you are a writer who is supposed to have good adjectives, because JEZHUS CHRIST you are trying to make a lunch with vegetables in it that a kid will actually eat and isn’t over processed and isn’t full of sugar.
Okay, I feel better.
No, not yet.
Plus, I have to say, parenting gets harder, not easier. When Mulan was a baby, she cried a lot and she stumbled a lot and I did drink more from the sheer boredom of babyhood, but it was not psychologically exhausting, it was physically exhausting. Plus, if she were with the babysitter for one hour or twelve I don’t think she really knew it. Plus, if I did take her with me to work, I could have an adult-work-conversation with someone because all Mulan needed to be occupied was to be bounced up on down on anyone’s lap. But now she has opinions and conversations and she wants to know what I’m talking about and she has her own classes and teachers who want to talk to me because her tap shoes are now too small and did I leave the $15 for the skirt for African dance class yet??? I am nearly cross-eyed at the end of every day. I barely get in one treat a day, and that treat is to watch Jon Stewart from eight to eight thirty and then Mulan goes to bed and I follow about five minutes later.
I used to think I was going to stay up and watch movies after my child went to bed, or have long flirtatious phone conversations with some potential future dad of Mulan or write my novel. But no, I crap out about ten minutes after Mulan. And in those ten minutes I scramble to get the dishwasher filled and I try to figure out what’s going to go in her lunch box the next day because one thing I never realized was that after one lunch, there’s another one just around the corner, the next day!!! And every day there’s going to be a lunch. One lunch after another until I drop.
And now I have to run because I’m selling treats at Mulan’s school from 2:15 to 3:45, and I only do this every other week, so it’s not like I’m complaining, it’s like the least, the very very, very, very least I can do. And then I bring her home and then we have another hour of homework and then we will, possibly, practice violin for ten minutes and then it’s off to dance class.
And while she’s dancing I will finish the book I’m writing. Except I could be falling asleep.
Also, for the record. I am so OVER GOD. Over it, over it. So, there’s no God. So fucking what? I mean – don’t get me wrong, I am still thrilled to do my show, I am so excited to do my show, I think it’s the best work I’ve ever done and I’m thrilled every single time I walk out on stage that there are people there to hear it. But…on the God front. I just…I can’t get into another discussion about it. I don’t even feel a-theist anymore, more like post-theist. Like realizing there is no God is step one, not even step one. And you have no idea how many conversations I have to have about GOD!!! God is a quark and if I only read the Bible the Jehovah’s Witness way or did I ever think that maybe God started the Big Bang? Oh wow, yeah, so God could have started the Big Bang, I never thought about that, I take it all back – you are right – Jesus is the son of God and he came to earth during the pre-literate (practically) pre-scientific (practically) late-Bronze age to tell us to be good to each other. And of course, his dad started the Big Bang! If only I would have realized that, I would be Catholic. Or Evangelist. Or whatever. And of course God came up with the idea of evolution, the most wasteful, painful, horrifying, cold, merciless way to come up with a human being, which He “guided” only over the course of a mere five hundred million years through lots of other species. What a brilliant God-like way to get a human being! AGH. If I never talk about God again, it will be okay. I have no interest in convincing anyone about God anymore, just no interest in it. I say, look, if you are an adult and you think you’ve weighed the evidence and think there’s a good chance that there’s a God, good luck to you. In fact, I will march to D.C. by foot to make sure you have every right to believe the things you want to, as long as you don’t require me or my child to believe those things as well. G’head. Believe whatever crazy-ass no-evidence-for-it thing you like. The sky is bright red and Martians live in the ground. Fine! My evidence doesn’t add up that way. But if yours does, then, just please don’t live near me or keep telling me about it.
This is my dream. I just want to spend a lot of time in nature. But comfortable. Like, with temperature control. But not extreme temperature control. But you know, comfortable. And I want to look at the sky at night. I want to look at stars. And I want conversation with smart people who are also old friends. And I would like to eat something nice that someone took time to prepare. And that someone could be me. Cause I really miss cooking. I mean cooking like I used to cook, before I was just trying to get something on the table in fifteen minutes and what-do-we-even-have-in-the-refrigerator type of cooking.
Sometimes I really feel I could drop out. Like, majorly drop out. Like really move somewhere far away and just stop listening to the radio, stop getting upset about the Supreme Court or the religious right taking over America and stop fearing the coming climactic catastrophes and stop knowing how many people believe the most outlandish things that will contribute to our own human extinction. Just turn off the radio and the TV and just wander around in some remote place and concentrate on things like…what to have for lunch. Today and then tomorrow and the next day.
And oddly, that’s sort of what my daughter does for me. So, see, she’s so good for me after all.
LATER THAT DAY…
Okay, now I’m back from snack shop and you know what? I don’t even really want to be a full time mom. I mean, I don’t mind the mom part of it, but I don’t want to go and hang out at the school – or I should say, I don’t feel I fit in with the other full-time moms either. I know, boo hoo, poor me. And these women are wonderful, amazing, I appreciate what they do more than ever before.
But the enormous volunteering, the organizing of benefit events, the getting of gifts to sell at the fair, it’s just not at all up my alley. And I usually try to just give a donation and say to myself, well, that’s the end of it, that’s what I can do. But then somehow, by osmosis or by guilt or just by people asking me what I’ve gotten together to sell at the fair, I end up doing that part too. That makes me again, the dad and the mom. I remember when I first started earning some money, how when, like it came to family things, I saw how the breakdown usually worked. Usually, the man is the money-maker and he gives the money – money for a nurse or to bail someone out of a bad situation, or pay the bill for the big fancy dinner with the family. And then that person, that person who paid for it got to sit back and let his wife do all the interactive, nurturing, listening, graciousness part of the job. Because after all, he paid, right? And if he wants to space out in front of the TV after Thanksgiving and let the women clean up, well that’s fine because after all, he paid for the dinner, or the whatever, right? But I have to do both jobs. I have to contribute the money and then on top of it I’m expected to do the things that the people do who have only their time to contribute, not their money.
I’ve got to get some grip on this.
EVEN LATER THAT DAY…
Okay, I feel much better. First of all, I just took a long bath with Mulan. And we skipped her dance class and just lounged and read books. Mulan can almost read, it’s quite astonishing and wonderful. And I feel a lot calmer and happier with my life. I love my house and how we can sort of see the sun go down over the apartment houses across from us, and I’m feeling very lucky that I don’t have to talk to anyone else besides Mulan.
Plus, I’m on Jury Duty this week and every night I’ve called in and the automatic response tells me (my group number) not to show up. But tonight I called in for my last night of possible duty for tomorrow and it told me to show up! And it’s just so…almost…the straw that is breaking the camels back – it’s so ludicrous. I tried to get out of it by saying that I was a sole proprietor of a business and totally forgot that I was a mom with a child in kindergarten who has no one else to pick her kid up after her three hours of school each day and I just started laughing. Because I absolutely cannot go to this courthouse near the airport tomorrow, it’s just impossible. I would have to take Mulan with me. And we’d have to leave the house at like, 7:00 a.m. And somehow, this ridiculous extra-addition to tomorrow (besides the fact that I have, y’know…a show tomorrow night and a set to put up and all that goes into getting the show up for the weekend) made me just lighten up about EVERYTHING. Like, you can only laugh now. There’s no pain or frustration or feeling hassled. It’s just so…life. I guess here I am in life. And it’s really pretty much too much a lot of the time.
Wow, I hope I don’t get fined $1,500.00 for not showing up. Maybe I will show up.
Or maybe the fuck-it part of my personality will rear it’s ugly head and I just won’t and I’ll wait and see what happens. Or maybe there’s a phone number I can call and just LAUGH into the recording about the possibility of me reporting for Jury Duty tomorrow.
Or maybe I’ll just…go. And do my DUTY.