Tuesday, July 27, 2010
They have no idea.
The thing about single parenthood isn’t the big stuff. It isn’t the talks you have about how to navigate friendships. It isn’t teaching them the discipline of homework or piano practice. It isn’t talking about god or science or the whole Quinn/Finn/Puck pregnancy thing in Glee. It’s not about pausing the TV in the middle of Twilight to explain that we should be wary of pop culture that teaches women to be attracted to dangerous men. It’s not even about being gay, or why you and Uma split up, or who their sperm donor is.
No, the thing about single parenthood is the relentlessness of the little stuff.
Monday, July 26, 2010
The shmear of peanut butter
The dribble of grape jelly
The papier mache white bread left over from Thanksgiving,
The crusts cut off carefully, so he wouldn’t roll his eyes and have to do it himself, later.
Made me take the drugs.
The not-yet-seven-when-I-don’t-get-up-till-8:30 morning sun streaming in through our kitchen windows
Illuminating his face
Animating my hands
Refracting possibilities in my lover’s eyes
As I spread and cut and bagged and hummed
And thought about taking drugs.
The sly smile I have known for six years
The compassionate heart that defies my eyes to stay dry
The large, soft hands that hold mine when he sits next to me in the car.
The boy who loves me.
The boy whom I love, perhaps more than anyone.
The boy who is not mine, though we have both pretended, from time to time.
I wanted this to last forever
Would gladly skew my day earlier
To make sandwiches for my child
To have breakfast talk with my child
To send my child off to school with a perfunctory kiss
And tear up as I watched him run through the playground to join his friends.
And I’m popping eggs like they’re going out of style
I am fertile.
And carrying around cannisters that look like R2D2
With tubes of stuff that half of you will likely produce tonight. For free.
So I can get up early and talk and cry and make sandwiches in the morning sun,
This was written a couple of years ago after spending Thanksgiving in St. Louis. The girls were just shy of their 5th birthday.
We’re at my Aunt Rose’s for Thanksgiving weekend. It’s Saturday morning and we’re hanging out before we hit the road this afternoon. Aunt Rose has lots of board games for her grandchildren. Delaney decides she wants to play the Game of Life. Great. We open it up and set out all the mountains and valleys and schools and churches. I read the instructions (believe it or not, I’ve never played the game before) and we pick out our cars. I read that we have to put representative people in our cars, so we open the bag and, to my amusement, there are only pink and blue “people” pegs. We each take a pink.
The game begins and we both take loans to go to college (‘cause I wouldn’t give her the option of starting a career without going to college), and we stop at the red squares and do what they tell us. Delaney gets to “Get Married.” She takes a Life card and dutifully picks out a blue peg and places it next to her in her red car. A few turns later, I hit the same spot. I pick out a pink peg to put next to me in my yellow car.
“You can’t pick a pink one, you have to pick a blue one,” my daughter tells me.
“No I don’t. I can pick any color I want,” I answer.
“No, you have to pick a boy.”
“I don’t want to pick a boy. I want to pick a girl.”
“But you can’t. You have to play boy/girl. See, there’s the picture.” She points to the picture on the game board of a bride and groom.
“But I don’t want to marry a boy. I don’t marry boys. I’ve never posed for that kind of picture in my life.”
“But it’s the rules.”
“I don’t follow the rules.”
“But it’s the rules of this game.”
“I don’t have to follow the rules of this game, either, if I disagree with them.”
She looks at me.
“Look,” I say, “If I followed the rules, you would never have been born.”
She rolls her eyes, shakes her head, then reaches down and spins the wheel.
What a great game of life lesson.