I have a little rant today. I’m putting it out there, not just to get it off my chest, but also for all of you people who take single parents for granted; for all of you who have no children; for those who have someone who makes your dinner or takes out the trash, yet still find the time to judge others.
One thing I discovered in India, was that it was a lot harder than I had anticipated to be away from my son. You would think, after 8 years of never being away from him for more than five days, I would have welcomed the break. I did, and yet…I’m a mother. I had expressed to my friends my anxiety about leaving my son with his dad, and they said (wisely) that of course he should be able to be more independent. What they couldn’t see was the rest of the story.
When I returned I was greeted in his classroom by a board which had been put up while I was away about “my family”. There were pictures of my son and his father; my son, his father and his father’s wife; my son’s father and his dog; my son’s father’s wife and the dog; my son’s father and his wife kissing (no kidding); two pictures of my parents and one token picture of me with my son that the teacher had put on. And one stick figure drawing of me by the wife with a large word bubble saying “I’m in India.” (Since I had already skyped with my son’s class while I was in India, I suspect they knew that already.)
I found that the wife had herself put on the email lists, that my son’s dad had berated me to the teacher. The field trip information for a chaperon was kept by him and he and the wife signed up for it without my knowledge. Then he insulted me for not going. In fact, for the last week now, I have been inundated with at least three emails or texts a day complaining, calling me a liar and telling what an irresponsible parent I am.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Ok, enough with the bitching. Of course, this is only a one sided story.” Well you would be right. But there is something else – the wife desperately wants to have a baby and after four years they have not. My son’s father swore up and down that he would never have more children. I think you can extrapolate from there… you are smart.
But, you know, those things aren’t what really hurt. When I came home the man I respect and love as my father expressed his disappointment at me for choosing to go to my friends wedding during my son’s first week of school and over his birthday. That hurt. I didn’t choose the wedding date, it wasn’t his first week of school ever and it wasn’t a milestone birthday. I had promised to call him on his birthday, and I did, even though I was driving my friends crazy, standing on a street corner in Delhi, in the dark, at a phone kiosk when all other ways to make that promised call had failed.
I gain more disappointment every day from people around me, telling me what kind of parent I should be. I endure that young, desperate, and self-absorbed women pretending that she can do a better job because she wants so much to be a parent – to be loved – that she is willing to ruin other peoples lives to get it.
But there is something else… there is a man at my work who raised three girls by himself and who re-assures me that, in the end, my son will understand. There is a man I share a house with who has high standards and few compliments and I rarely do things that meet his expectations. He sees me every day, at my best and my worst, and still takes the time out, unsolicited, to tell me that I am a good parent. So, for those of you who don’t have that – I will tell you, it will be okay. I can relate. Don’t cave in. Don’t let someone who has not walked in your shoes tell you how horrible you are. Take those shoes and walk away. I was reminded in India that every mother is pressured to conform – to be a certain kind of parent, and every child is pressured to be what their parents want them to be. Every mother is frustrated, every mother is torn trying to meet the needs of others, every mother cries, every mother misses their children, every mother makes hard choices.
I am not going to give in to the Disneyland Nazi’s who believe that every kid needs a dedicated holiday, a big screen TV in their room and a new car at sixteen. Fuck them all. I’m going to be the best mom I can be and I don’t care if they agree. I’m going to spend my time telling my son stories about India. I’m going to sit every night and do his homework with him while I cook his dinner and do his laundry with no one else there to help. I’m going to take him to the Smithsonian…but I am not just raising him to be my son, I’m raising him to be his own person too, so we will make a stop at the International Spy Museum. And I’ll make mac-n-cheese for dinner.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese image and recipe from bhg.com
- 2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup milk
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 1 15- ounce can pumpkin
- 1 Tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
- 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
Sage leaves (optional)Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.Note: If you are really feeling like a bad-ass mom you can roast the pumpkin yourself.