I hate the label “single mom.” Then again, I hate most labels.
I’ve expressed these opinions before. I hate when people say “the homeless” because I think it’s dehumanizing and makes it seem as though homelessness is a personality trait rather than a living situation. I hate putting labels on relationships. Once I’m your “girlfriend,” a whole new set of obligations are automatically placed on me; suddenly, we’re not just happy to spend time together — we expect it.
I love motherhood, and I’ll embrace that title any day. But I guess I mind it less when the label describes something I do or if it’s a way I self-identify. I’m a blogger. I’m an activist. I’m the communications lady at a poverty relief org. I’m a mother.
I’m a lot of things, but being labeled a “single mom” makes it sound like my singlehood is something unusual. It makes it sound like I’m incomplete, like there’s something missing from my life. We don’t refer to married moms as such, so why use my relationship status to qualify my motherhood?
I’m just a mom. I feel fulfilled in a way that I’ve never felt before, and I’m happy. As someone who has always been independent and thrives most when I’m unencumbered by the expectations and obligations that come with committed relationships, solitude works best for me.
I always think of a line that affected me deeply from one of my favorite novels, White Oleander (which I’m reading now for maybe the hundredth time):
Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find someone who will understand you, someone to fill that space… [U]nderstand yourself, know what it is that you want.
Although, I will say, I remember the quote a little bit differently from what I just reread. What I remembered (and what I’ve always quoted Janet Fitch as saying, probably forgetting context…) was: Solitude is the human condition. We were born alone, and we’ll die alone. Nothing can change that, and there’s nothing wrong with it. We can only fill our lives with people and things that make each day matter. Those people and those things might change as we grow and change, and we can only accept, enjoy, and appreciate those changes as they come.
I think that’s what she would’ve written if the book weren’t about a narcissistic, homicidal maniac.
On an unrelated note: Cosleeping!
As per Max’s doctor’s suggestion, I tried to transition him into his crib over the weekend. It was a nightmare for everyone involved. He hung out in the crib for awhile — playing with his feet and turning himself around, and once he was done, he let me know. He didn’t cry, but he waved his arms and said “Eh, eh.” He signaled to me that he was ready to get up. I went over to him, stroked his arm and talked to him a little bit as he smiled back up at me, and then I let him know that it was time for bed. I walked away, and he called to me again: “Eh, eh” — a little more frustrated now. We went through this a few times — and I also tried comforting him by talking to him from across the room rather than directly over him. In the end, he was howling. I brought him to bed with me, and he was particularly sensitive throughout the night and for the next few days. Almost every time I put him down on Sunday and Monday, he skipped the signals, skipped crying, and went straight to screaming as though he were in pain. It was as though project crib-sleeping made him feel like I was going to abandon him the second I got the chance.
That’s how I came to this conclusion: Cosleeping is the fucking bomb. I love cosleeping. I’m happy, and my baby is happy. The risks are sort of silly — but very real. As long as you follow the rules (i.e. don’t drink and cosleep), cosleeping is very safe. Moms and babies are naturally aware of each other, so there’s not much of a risk of rolling over onto him (as long as you’re not drunk or something!).
I’m happy with our sleep situation, and I liked the crib better when it was decorated with the cute bumpers, so I can put them back now that we’ve gone back to not using the crib except as a changing table, dresser, and pretty thing decorated in the theme of the nursery.
The way I see it? If you’re doing something that works for you and works for your baby then there’s no reason to change it. Max is thriving. He’s the happiest baby. Most importantly, my son is only going to be a baby once. One day, he’s going to be a preteen with no interest in cuddling or sleeping in his mama’s bed. So, I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts and keep doing what I’m doing.
Finally, I have a lot of…feelings about the new Robin Thicke video — about the way that it demonstrates the dynamics of an abusive relationship and the way that the text messages and lyrics sound almost exactly like conversations between me and my abusive ex. Instead, I’ll acknowledge the silver lining: it has sparked a conversation about abusive relationships. So, that’s great. However, it’s still so unfortunate that abuse is just accepted as the norm in our society.
On a related note, it turns out my ex decided to represent himself in his case re: the recent assault charges (oh yeah: did I tell you my ex was recently arrested for assault?). Fairly successfully, too. It sounds like he ended up with no jail time and six months of community service. For punching a cab driver in the face, repeatedly, without provocation, in front of the police.
If he’s only ever arrested when the police happen to be passing by then, well, that’s not much of a deterrent. Let’s just hope they pass by again sometime in the next six months when he (inevitably) hurts someone else.