Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thanks But I've Got My Own Cape

If we relied on the media to feed us our opinions - we would hate single parents. And maybe we do. But based on the stories we see in news headlines or stories streamed to us on our favorite channels, have we ever seen what it really means to be a single parent?

According to headlines and opinion pieces, single parents are either rooted in the breakdown of American moral fiber (says Jeb Bush, one big voice for the right wing moral majority) or an example of why we need better sex ed and access to birth control (Charles M. Blow of the NY Times). Oversimplified  and opportunistic at best.

If you look at movies, single moms are:

  • Well resourced, but bitter (Panic Room with Jodie Foster)
  • Women of color eligible for uplift. She is both redeemed by rich white folks who show her what opportunity looks like as well as redeemer, by providing the down to earth perspective required for rich white folks to get grateful. (Spanglish, Tea Leoni, Adam Sandler and Paz Vega) 
  • Ambitious woman of color whose career decision forsakes her fish out of water child (in this case, out of the country too) whose only chance to learn how to swim (e.g. learn self-respect and self-defense) is a working class man. (Karate Kid remake with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith). 
  • Not doing as well as they could be, if only they had a man around. Thank goodness their meddling kids can manipulate them to make it happen. (Countless titles: About a Boy, Maid in Manhattan, Jerry Maguire, the list goes on...) 
Though moms are generally met with disdain for going to work, single dads can do anything,  whether it's Alan Arkin moving his kids from one apartment to another in Slums of Beverly Hills or Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey who runs off into space to find a better planet.... 

I will give Tyler Perry credit for saying he wants to lift up single moms and what it takes to raise kids without sacrificing your values and sanity. But damn if he didn't do the opposite, right along with most other attempts I've seen on every screen.  

The trouble is, single moms don't need another movie or episode of TV to show that a man is the solution to whichever single dimension characterization you want to fill in. Yes, we know it's hard and yes it might be different with a partner, but until the right one comes along and I happen to be interested, BUGGER OFF. 

You don't see many consistent examples (though there are a few exceptions) of single moms making it happen. This strikes me as odd considering how many damn single parents are out there. That's going to change. Stay tuned, the bonus is it's going to be fun and you'll probably learn something too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dispatch From A Velveteen Lined Rut

The stories I tell, and they're true mind you, would have any old body singing my praises as a woman who has cracked the code on the good life. And I would chuckle, nod and whole-heartedly agree. Except I don't really live in adverbs. And when I take the time to sit all by my lonesome, it is better described as hole-hearted.

Yes, I earn a semi-competitive salary, doing work that is creative and mostly dictated by me on a schedule that is flexible with a community of family and friends that make sure I can travel.

But any story is only worth the subtext. The secrets lining the vivid panorama are that I am often lonely for adult companionship. No, I don't mean getting laid. I mean a real partner in crime so I don't have to have exclusive rights and responsibilities to having my back. Or covering the costs required to make now and then happen. Being a single parent means you attend lots the family mandatory events but generally are not included in the extra curricular social stuff- the weekend outings, the summer fun. The good news is that my Dare Devil Daughter is a magical human being, so she tends to be included. The not so good news is that the feeling you remember from being excluded when you were 14 years old and couldn't help but internalize as a fatal flaw? It comes out of hiding when your favorite social media timeline reveals that you were not included in the most recent fill-in-the-fun activity.

And now our house is small so we won't really be hosting any get togethers. I get the feeling that the local moms (Dad's won't come within 10 feet unless their S.O. is in tow) find me amusing (I would) but don't consider ours a friendship worth pursuing beyond pick-up and drop-off overlap.

I get it. We are all taken up with having our lives and there aren't many resources for accommodating the skill of bringing on a third wheel. People like even numbers. Truth be told, it simply doesn't feel good. Then it gets overwhelming when I want to dream of a time when I am eligible for such camaraderie, or even the option to do it on my own and it occurs to me that raising a child on my own in the Bay Area working for a non-profit...means that we are just getting by and that sailboat or weekend cabin or mortgage are not likely.

Unless I work my ass off on the MIRACLE. Yes, I am an optimist and I believe. Except I'm exhausted and I'm suffering from short-sightitis and dog-ass-tired more often than not. I'll get over it. I'll get fit. I'll get the pages written. I'll get out there. My unicorn is looking for me just like i'm looking for him. Just not tonight.