Single Motherhood and Ice Cream

We all know Republicans hate single mothers. (Dude, I’m not even going to provide you people a link for that. You’ve lived through at least a few decades in this country, right? That ought to be enough. If you need help, just Google Dan Quayle Murphy Brown. Trust me.) I had no idea until quite recently that single mom was a controversial term even among those who claim it.

By most definitions, I think, I am one, although the more I read on that comment thread, the less sure I am. But let me break it down for you: I’m not married, I have a kid, we live without the kid’s father. So that makes me a single mom. Of course, he helps out a lot, as do a lot of other people, which makes me perhaps not a totally single mom. I rarely feel that way, anyway.

But this is not a post about reality. This is a post about feelings, which only occasionally match up with facts.

Once in awhile I feel sorry for my single mother self. You know, when other people talk about their husbands handling bedtime, or bringing home ice cream. But mostly, I regret to say, I feel smug. Smugness is not a superior emotion to self-pity (in fact, I’m pretty sure smugness is but a subdivision of pride, putting it at the very top of the seven deadlies). But it sure as hell feels a lot better.

Oh, you poor married people whose spouses are away at a conference and thus making you handle bedtime solo! I do that every night! You say you had a hard time traveling with the baby? I did a trip with the baby by myself! And I had my period! I did it all! Backwards, and in high heels! (Oh, fine. That last part is a lie. I can barely stand in high heels, despite everything my grandmother tried to teach me.)

And when I do have help (as I often do), I tend to get resentful. Why are they not doing more? Why, in fact, are they not doing EVERYTHING? After all, I do everything. I put the baby to bed and feed him and change his diapers and get up with him, usually several times. I play with him and take him around on errands. I give him baths. I sing him songs! I tell him stories! I leap tall buildings at a single bound, with my baby in a sling! Why are they not doing ALL THESE THINGS? SIMULTANEOUSLY?

I can give you an earful on my opinion of American maternity leave and prenatal care and childbirth practices and utter lack of affordable daycare or support systems for parents. Google any of those phrases and I bet you’ll come up with arguments as cogent as any I could make. And all of those things would certainly improve my life, and I’ll continue to fight for them. But in the meantime I have this funny talented tiny human to take care of. And I have a lot of help.

So as the election season progresses this fall, you can expect me to look more and more smug. I’d apologize, but really, smugness is what I get. It’s what I get when I look at the politicians of the world and think, “Oh yeah? Try MY job for a day. No? Well, while you’re out, could you get me some coffee ice cream?”

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