Single Mother Blues: The Holiday Edition

Christmas used to fill my heart with joy. Now, I panic every December trying to put on a spectacle for Cinda. Yeah, I know, she’s a kid and I tend to go overboard but I don’t spend 6 hours a day being tortured by other people’s kids for a living to NOT use my earnings to treat my baby to a Christmas extravaganza. Coupled with the fact that she was born on Christmas Day, my December spending reaches crippling numbers. I’m not complaining about how much I spend to make my baby’s holiday a happy one, nor do I wish to receive advice about it. You spend your way, and I’ll spend mine. Being broke in January doesn’t give me the blues, because it’s a good broke that makes me smile every time I see Cinda playing with her new spoils. What gives me the Holiday Single Mother Blues are a few revelations that come with each and every December 25th.

Where’s my gift? I don’t get presents for Christmas. I’d love to lie and say I’m not slightly saddened by that, but alas, I’d be lying. My very first Christmas as someone’s wife was filled with all kinds of extravagant gifts. My second was filled with an epidural. My third consisted of baby toys and self-purchased items I wrapped just to get the feeling of joy. Whoever said “’tis better to give than to receive” forgot to add “but that doesn’t mean receiving doesn’t feel pretty damn good, too”. My family and friends shower Cinda with gifts and honestly, the smile on her face when she opens her presents actually does give me a warm tingly feeling. So does opening my own gifts…ones I didn’t buy for myself.

Santa Claus gets all the credit My baby still believes in Santa and I have beef with people who tell their five year olds otherwise. (That’s an entirely different debate that can be addressed another time) The sucky thing about her belief in Santa is that while other people buy her gifts, Mommy doesn’t. She opens presents from Grandma and Grandpa, aunts, uncles, friends…even her father tried to get in on the outdo Santa kick. Being anonymous Santa is good enough for me, but I hate when gift givers need to make it known that they purchased exactly what Cinda wanted while Mommy didn’t do anything. I don’t need any accolades, I’m not in this whole motherhood thing for some special award for buying out the Barbie section at Toys R Us (make sure you spell out my middle name on the plaque). What I don’t want is for other people to try to steal the spotlight from Santa (me) by insisting that Cinda knows exactly who to thank and why. Around these parts, Santa is in charge and when I’m ready to take over his duties, I’ll happily share the stage. Until then, drop the gift off and leave.

This thing needs how many AAA batteries?!?! Ah, the electronic toys…as she’s gotten older, fewer and fewer of Cinda’s toys require as many batteries of sizes I’ve never heard of. But her new DS needed a case, games, extra styluses, and a travel charger. That Easy-Bake oven won’t work without a 100 watt bulb (not the ecofriendly joints I already have) and this fucking dollhouse has how many pieces?!?!?! Christmas Day is a day filled with frantic assembly, lost instructions, and the realization that these new toys are loud (Go Go the walking puppy), messy (Moon Dough AND Sand), or requires my involvement (Hell no I don’t want my nails painted with your new Shrek OPI polish! I was up until 2am wrapping gifts and back up at 6am watching my three hours of work being trashed in the span of 11 minutes and 36 seconds – I timed it). Christmas Day is a team sport, going at it alone – even with just one child – is dangerous, suicidal even.

I try to remain festive around the holidays. I buy myself cool gifts (my 40″ TV is still in the box), shop on Black Friday for the adrenaline rush, and buy a big ass tree every year. This year, me and my best friend even went out on Christmas Eve to be Merry and shit (get drunk). December 25, 2005 was the happiest day of my life and every Christmas since then has been just as merry. But that doesn’t stop me from getting the Single Mother Blues, Holiday style.

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Single Mother Blues

This weekend I had big plans: DJ Jazzy Jeff spinning on Thursday, pedicure and Black Eyed Peas after-party at Enclave on Friday (STFU, I like the Black Eyed Peas), a party for a work friend on Saturday, and a road trip to a few wineries on Sunday with the girls. This weekend, I will be hanging with my four-year-old daughter because I don’t have a sitter. I’m not upset about it, because I genuinely cherish every single day I get to spend with her. We have fun when we hang out together and for the most part, she’s welcome almost everywhere I go. I get a little sad sometimes, because I realize I’m singing the Single Mother Blues, a song far too many of us know the words to – words we had to learn on center stage the night of the big show. Some of us never expected to be understudies when the star backed out at the last minute. We were supposed to be singing a different song, The Family Song. I’m not speaking for the perpetual “baby mama” who has multiple children by multiple men nor am I speaking about the single mother who was single before the baby and had no intentions of having a relationship with the child’s father. I don’t know the words to their songs, and I’m afraid I don’t even know the melody. I can only sing my blues, the Single Mother Blues.

I recently asked a friend what he does before he takes a trip out of town. His answer: Buy a ticket. Ask any single mother what we have to do before we go on vacation and of the million things we have to do, survey says “buy a ticket” would NOT be the number one answer. The one thing fathers without full custody of their children fail to understand is that by choosing to be a full-time mother, we’ve given up our freedom and they haven’t. Even with visitation on the weekend, things just aren’t the same. I will never complain about having to “watch” my own child, but I will always resent the fact that my freedom is compromised, while Cinda’s daddy can come and go as he pleases without a second thought about what to do with the baby.
He’s never been late to work because Jacinda won’t let him comb her hair. He’s never gotten two hours of sleep because he spent the night awake holding a hot baby praying that ibuprofen knocks the fever out. He’s never had to choose between school clothes for her and a new winter coat for himself. He’s never had to eat spaghetti three nights in a row because that’s all Cinda will eat. He’s never had to sacrifice his freedom on a day to day basis, the freedom to do simple things, like pee with the door closed and listen to music with bad words in it. I gave up those freedoms to be Cinda’s Mommy. I’m not mad about it, but sometimes I miss the days when I could just get up and go.

I’ve hinted at the envy I feel when I see families: man, woman, child. I had that. I purposely chose to wait until I was in a committed relationship, MARRIAGE, before I chose to become a mother. This is how I believe things should go, and while others may not mind conceiving and birthing a child out of wedlock, I do. I never wanted to be a single mother, and although I planned a pretty picnic, it rained cats and dogs. Marriage doesn’t guarantee permanence, however, I believed (and still do) that it was a lifetime commitment so when I woke up that cold day in February of 2006 and realized that I was on my own, I thought my life was over. I didn’t want to be a baby mama. I didn’t want a baby daddy. I was a wife, he was my husband and this was our family. I resent him for ruining my family, for forcing my daughter to grow up without a father – I had one and so should she. We’re so used to black families being headed by a single mother, people tend to look at me crazy as though my expectations about my family are unrealistic. Being a baby mama may be good enough for some people, but it was NEVER good enough for me and I resent the fact that not only do I have to be one, but the society expects me to be something I never wanted to be.

What I’m most resentful about though, is that Cinda’s daddy ruined my family and that sucker might go out and get himself a new one one day. I find it hilarious when people ask if we’ll ever get back together, or if I still love him. Hell I don’t know, but what I DO know is that, as crazy as it may seem to people who don’t understand, he ruined my dream of happily ever after. I’ve moved on, but a secret that most of us have is that deep down inside, we don’t want the father of our children to EVER have a family. (Yes! I’ve spilled the beans!). How dare they make it work with someone else when they couldn’t make it work with us?! Not only should they never have another family, but they should spend the rest of their lives regretting the fact that WE never worked out. Before men get all excited and say “I KNEW she wasn’t over me!!! WRONG!!!! We ARE over you. What we aren’t over is the failure of our family. No matter who’s fault the end of the relationship was, no matter how well we wish you, no matter how happy we may genuinely be when you’re happy, we’re like Miss America hoping Miss Canada trips and falls on her pageant gown and gets disqualified for posing naked for Hustler. Yeah, Canada is our neighbor to the north and although we both don’t want those damn Russians to win anything and we giggle together when she can’t remember the words to her song, I swear to GOD we’ll be damned if you take home the crown. Runner up will do. We’re allowed to win. You’re not.

My song isn’t the song of a bitter woman. As a matter of fact, contrary to what the world may think, most single mothers AREN’T bitter and filled with despair. We’ve accepted our starring roles, most of the time unexpectedly, and we get on stage and perform our asses off. Most of us are not retaliatory against the actions of our children’s father. We’re not angry. We’re not greedy. We’re not scorned. We’re not sitting at home waiting on you to fail. The media portrays us in such a negative light, it hurts me to see women complain about getting more child support, withholding visitation, and being a bitch in general. These women are acting very immaturely and out of hurt only a single mother can understand. Jacinda doesn’t get a dime from her dad, she’s seen him twice in two years, and I’m nice to her dad whenever he pops up, because that’s what’s healthy for the three of us, but I swear to teenage Jesus, if that bastard cleans his life up and has a baby with a white girl, I PROMISE you I’m gonna pinch the shit out of that kid and blame it on Jacinda.

Aside

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