It’s been my experience that people don’t usually intend to be insensitive or nosy. At least, most people don’t. And maybe that’s just what I like to believe. Whether or not it’s true, who knows? After spending the last 6 months of my life as a single mom, and coming across many many questions and comments from both friends and strangers, I’ve decided it may be necessary to create some ground rules. Luckily for everyone involved, I’m a very open person. I don’t mind discussing my situation or how I came to be a single mother, and I don’t often take offense when people say the wrong thing. I know how awkward it can be to find yourself suddenly in a conversation involving delicate subjects. I am, as most people know, the Queen of Awkward.
Although it may seem obvious that some of these things are not appropriate conversation-starters, you’d be surprised how, when facing an uncomfortable situation like pregnancy out of wedlock, people’s brain-to-mouth filters malfunction. Or their brain in general may malfunction. I have had personal experience with every single one of these questions or comments (some of them, multiple times), so I’ll be writing a response as though they were directed toward me. I obviously did not answer them the way I truly wanted to when people asked. Believe it or not, I’m a pretty patient person in real life. In real life, I’m good about responding to people in a nice way, when I really just want to slap my palm to my forehead and walk away. Scratch that. I really want to tell them what I’m about to write. This whole blogging thing has just released my inner cynic.
10. “I can’t wait to get to know your son/daughter better.” (from someone attempting to make a move)
Oh boy. I understand the attempt at seeming “ok” with the fact that I have a kid. I can appreciate that. You should probably try to come across as less of a creepo, though. Believe it or not, you probably won’t ever get the chance to get to know my kid, especially if this is your first response to finding out that I am a mom. Why? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because we just met, you don’t even know my last name, and it’s a little weird to assume you’ll be “getting to know” my baby better. News flash: the vast majority of single moms (if not all) are extremely protective of their little ones. I, for one, do not plan on letting my son be around just any Joe Blow that may take me out to dinner. That’s how you create a messed up kid quick, fast, and in a hurry. So put on the brakes, big guy. Not happening.
9. “I wud like to at u on a date” (received via text or social networking)
Bravo, my good sir. You figured out every mom’s secret turn-on: a man who cannot form a sentence without sounding like a rambling idiot. Thank you for taking me into consideration while perusing your files for a potential mate. You’ve managed to be sensitive enough to look past the fact that I have a young child, and you’re obviously a very deep thinker. Never mind your inability to spell, punctuate, or correctly use the English language without butchering it beyond recognition. This is what social networking and cell phones are all about, right? Picking up hot moms you haven’t spoken to since grade school and “atting” them out on dates. I’ll be responding to your message just as soon as I find the desperation required to do so, and as soon as you find the autocorrect feature on your phone.
8. “Aren’t you worried about how growing up without a male role model will affect your son/daughter?”
YES. And if I wasn’t before, then now I am. Thanks for bringing this blatantly obvious and unquestionably worrisome issue to my attention. I actually do worry about my son growing up without a dad. When? Every second of every day. Every time I see one of those Huggies commercials with all the dads who are attempting to change their babies in record time, or who give them bottles until they go down for a nap, or who strut around the mall with their babies strapped to their chests, I get a little emotional. I realize these commercials are only advertising the reliability of Huggies diapers and/or wipes, but to a single mom, they’re also a reminder that my child doesn’t have that person in their life. Let’s get real, though. Odds are that the man responsible for 50% of the genetic makeup of a single mom’s child isn’t actually that standup of a guy anyway. Look what he’s done: he’s left his child with half the number of parents he or she needs. Regardless of circumstance, that’s enough reason to be satisfied with the fact that that man isn’t too involved in the child’s life. Not to mention, most women I know (single mom or not) have plenty of great guys in their lives that can be that role model. I, for one, have Pawpaw. I couldn’t ask for a better role model. I also have my older brother who lives about 10 miles away, and he is as dedicated a father and uncle as there ever was. And let’s not go into my several friends who happen to also be male, and are excellent people to raise a child around. Yes, my child will be able to burp the alphabet and play catch with the best of them. So yes, I do worry. But no, I don’t lose too much sleep over the subject. Believe it or not, I think my son will be just fine.
7. “You’re way too pretty to be single.”
I appreciate the sentiment. I really do. But let’s think about what you just said. First off, “prettiness” is not directly correlated to “singleness.” It’s going to take a heck of a lot more than someone who thinks I’m pretty to fill the shoes of boyfriend/potential lifer/potential stepdad or dad. And let’s be honest, the guy who put the woman with whom you are speaking into her current role as single mom probably also thought she was too pretty to be single. Hence, the existence of the child. And then when she became a mom, “pretty” must not have been enough for him to stick around for the responsibility. Let’s all think before we speak, shall we?
6. “Oh man. This is really going to put a damper on your dating life.”
Wait. You mean to tell me that men don’t find children to be a sexy accessory?! Wow. This is news to me! I should’ve really thought out this whole baby trend before buying into it. Good grief.
But seriously. You don’t need to point out the fact that my dating life is about to take a nosedive down the toilet. Most women who aren’t complete idiots realize that children, especially babies, aren’t a real turn-on for most people. And if they are, then it’s probably wise to turn and run in the opposite direction. Stating the obvious and reminding a woman of her sudden involuntary abstinence is completely unnecessary. Thanks for the reaffirmation, though. Now Mommy needs a bottle of merlot and about a pound of chocolate. Where’s my Adele CD?
5. “You look tired.”
No sh*t?! You know what sucks? Waking up every hour or two in order to try and feed an inconsolable infant. Or chasing around a screaming child who seems to always be able to change directions way quicker than you. Or dealing with a child’s homework assignments and extracurricular activities while maintaining some semblance of sanity. You know what really sucks? Doing all of that alone. People always talk about how they need vacations from work because they’re tired. I feel for you. You know the single mom’s idea of a vacation? Finding a babysitter so she can go to the grocery store alone. Peeing without a miniature person staring at her. Sleeping past 6:00am. Going out to eat somewhere without worrying about the kids’ menu. Locking herself in the closet for 5 minutes of quiet time before she’s discovered (this moment of “vacation” is brought to you by Supermom). I do realize that most moms have these issues, and not just single moms. But now imagine if you will, that the other half of your child’s genetic makeup doesn’t ever have to deal with these things. Stings a little, huh? Trust me, I do realize that there are “involved” fathers out there who still make the mother of their children do everything alone, or who don’t offer to let their wife/baby-mama take a break. Moms whose husbands are away for business or military service, too. As far as I’m concerned, those women still fall into the “single mom” category when it comes to these things. Troopers. That’s what we are. Smelly, tired, grumpy troopers. So I apologize for the bags under my eyes, the greasy ponytail, and the stink of yesterday’s spit-up and today’s BO. I’m one person doing a two-person job. You’d be tired, too. Scratch that. I don’t apologize. You’re just mean. Now stop talking to me so I can close my eyes and nap for a minute and a half.
4. “What did you ever see in that guy, anyway?” (in reference to baby-daddy)
You know what’s always a good feeling? When other people point out your mistakes. Thanks for that. Ever heard the phrase “wolf in sheep’s clothing?” Let’s think about what you’ve just asked. Had I known that I would eventually end up a single mom, I probably would’ve played my cards a little differently, don’t you think? Even the most well-intentioned man can end up panicking when facing adversity. The “fight-or-flight” instinct is a strong one, and let’s face it, no one wants to fight a pregnant lady. “Flight” pretty much always wins. Hindsight is always 20/20, honey. Whether a woman started out married when her baby was conceived, or her child was the result of a drunken night of awkward fumbling, I can pretty much guarantee you that there was something about the father that attracted her to him. Maybe it was his character. Maybe it was his sense of humor. Maybe it was just his tight buns and the way he stumbled across the dance floor in a drunken stupor. Who knows? Who cares? The point is, there was something, even if it’s gone now. Let’s not go poking around and digging up people’s past mistakes. That’s not cool.
3. “What do you do all day?”
Sit on the couch, scratch myself in inappropriate places for inappropriate amounts of time, and eat bonbons. What do you do all day? Ok. Let’s get serious. Do you really want to know? I am both mother and father to my child. I am a chef, a doctor, a counselor, a chauffeur, a jungle-gym, a snot rag, a secretary, a translator, a janitor, and at times even a toilet. I spend most of my day trying to keep my child from somehow injuring or killing himself. I spend his nap times cleaning up mystery stains and washing dishes and laundry. You know what I don’t do? I don’t get to say “your turn” and hand my child over to another person when they get home from work. I don’t get to “take the next shift” when my child wakes up in the middle of the night. My day is pretty full. The life of a single mom is far from glamorous or boring. I can try and pencil you in if you’d like, but I don’t think I have an opening for about 17 more years.
2. “So how much child support do you get?”
This is one of my favorite questions, because this is one of the instances when I get to use my favorite response: “nunya.” As in, “nunya business.” Do I ask you how much money you make? Do I ask you how much you spent on the things you have? No. Why? Because I was raised better than that. Evidently, you were not. But, for the sake of good blogging, I will let you in on a little bit of the financial side of being a single mom. Let’s say the single mom with whom you are speaking is lucky enough to receive child support. Good for her! Now let’s assume that the father of her child(ren) actually pays the amount he is required to pay. Let’s say that woman and her child(ren) live in the great state of Texas. What a coincidence! I live in the state of Texas, and I’ve had some experience with researching what the “normal” amount of child support is. For argument’s sake, we’re going to say this woman has only one child. It gets a little sticky when there is more than one child involved. In Texas, a man is responsible for paying for his child’s health insurance, 50% of medical costs not covered by insurance, and he hands over 20% of his paycheck every time he gets paid. So there you have it. Sounds like a pretty good deal, but I promise you, it’s not. No one gets rich off of child support. Ok, some people do, but no one I know personally. Just those people you see on Entertainment Tonight. Children are expensive. I have a dog, and I thought she was expensive, then I had The Monster and realized what “high maintenance” really meant. Even if I were receiving child support, I can assure you that it would not be nearly enough to even come close to covering the cost of The Monster’s monthly diaper costs, let alone any of his other necessities. Although the idea of child support sounds nice, don’t go assuming anyone is happy with the amount they receive.
1. “Do you know who the father is?”
Really?! At this point, you’re lucky if you’re still standing and haven’t been knocked to the ground by a surprise left hook. The fact that you’ve asked this question is not only insulting, but it’s extremely uncouth. I’m going to play dumb for a moment though and say that you are actually being serious and aren’t trying to be condescending or rude. Perhaps you really are just curious. Fair enough. If we are not good enough friends for you to know who the father of my child is (or even who he might possibly be), then we are not good enough friends for you to ask if I know who he is. There are multiple reasons for this: 1) As Stephanie Tanner would say, “how rude!” Yes, I just made a Full House reference. Move on. 2) Of course I know who he is! 3) Again, “how rude!!”
Now let’s still pretend that you’re just blissfully unaware of how big of a jerk you are just for posing the question. Are you really prepared for the answer? What if the mom you’re asking honestly has no clue who the father of her child could be? Good job, bucko. You’re a giant jackhole for pointing out this woman’s past promiscuity and/or poor decision-making skills. Congratulations. How do you respond when she says “no?” I’m guessing you just stand there with a dumbfounded look on your face. Yeah. Not good. Let’s not ask questions unless we’re prepared to react to whatever response we may receive, and that includes a swift kick to the ‘nads. I hope you’re wearing your athletic cup.