Martyr May I.

The conversation usually goes like this:

Person: Wow! Congrats on getting into NYU! That’s an incredible opportunity.

Stacey: Aww, Thank you. I’m really excited.

Person: Is your son going?

(Here, as we say in theatre, is a “beat”. The length of the “beat” usually depends on how many times I’d been asked that question within 48 hrs. The extent to which I go to explain my choice is directly proportional to the level of maternal guilt I’m feeling that day, but it all boils down to this:)

Stacey: No, He’s not going (… insert excessive rambling here as needed.)

(Next, the reaction. It varies and is typically some combination of: 1. A “beat”, some type of facial grimace, followed by an expulsion of air … usually from the mouth and then 2: Oh … )

Person: … who is he staying with?

Me: …my mom.

(Now, the conversation either ends here or rambles on in some awkward dance between my guilt and the other person’s judgement/the judgement I perceive them to have, then dies an even more awkward death in pregnant silence.)

This post is not an explanation of why my son will not be moving to New York with me. This post is about the fact that this question is always the first to be raised with mothers pursuing lofty goals.

I have watched my mother, and countless other mothers “sacrifice”, martyr their peace, happiness, and in some cases their physical existence for children who didn’t benefit one way or the other from said sacrifice. In some cases this “sacrifice” was ultimately the child’s downfall. Why? Because all that additional motherly love was enabling, that’s why. Mothers and specifically single mothers have for far too long worn the badge of the martyr, forfeiting any dreams or potential they had before they gave birth. It’s as if your goals and desires for yourself can’t exist in the same space as parenthood, or if they can, those goals and desires had better damn well be minimal and involve a papoose. (I just pictured my 5’8” 155lb 14 year-old strapped to me as I navigated Washington Square and died a little.)

Ye verily I say unto all the mothers who think they have to give up happiness and personal satisfactions in order to be a “good” mother … fuck all of that … in its entirety. I am a 37 year old woman with a lot of life left (hopefully), and a lot of shit I want to do. I love my son immensely and will not cease to handle my basic parental responsibilities, while also continuing to do everything within my power to guide him into a successful life. That, for me, is what parenthood is about. I refuse to give up my life as a testament to what a wonderful mother I am. I would rather live a full and purposeful life that can serve to inspire and empower my child into a better way of living. My pursuit of a full and purposeful life just happens to involve me being away from my kid for a while. This is not an ideal situation, but it is not Life’s job to serve up ideal situations. Besides, I’m pursuing graduate education for baby Jesus’s sake, not smoking crack. (Unfortunately, the latter in the eyes of some, seems to be a more acceptable reason for a maternal hiatus :/.)

Then there’s the shitty male/female double standard. If I were a father, even a single father, I don’t think anyone would give a second thought to me taking off to school or even better enlisting with the military and leaving my son with family. In fact, it’d be encouraged. This, in the eyes of some, makes a father joining the army, potentially being deployed to war, and killed a better choice than me, a mother, pursing higher education. I don’t blame fathers. Hell, I don’t even blame the people who ask me this question. It’s kind of just the way things are. We exist in a patriarchal society where the man goes out hunts the meat, clubs us over the head then …

Maybe you think I’ve written this assuage my guilty conscious and maybe you’re right. Maybe I don’t give a fuck* what anyone thinks. Maybe I do, but I shouldn’t because it’s my life. Square biz, I don’t know a parent who doesn’t have regrets about choices they’ve made raising their children. I know I will have regrets a plenty, possibly with the decision to leave him in Charlotte for two years topping the list. Time will inevitably reveal the decisions that will land my ass in a shitty nursing home per my son’s request. However, If I look at my parenting job so far I can honestly say the danger of me stewing in my own juices while medical staff is on break is pretty remote. All I can do is check with my gut, check with Sonny Jim, and pray for the best

Rosie.

*Please read the linked article ad nauseum. You will either become completely reckless, stop being afraid of what people think and live, or both. Shouts to KNKYTHT for sending it to me, it was the highlight of my week.

Mom too much?

When I gazed upon the recent cover of  Time Magazine, my initial urge was to vomit.  The churning of my guts was not however due to the overgrown child latched firmly to his mother’s teet.  That was unsightly enough. No, my disgust was brought on by the title of the cover story “Are You Mom Enough?”

Hell, on most days I wonder I’m human being enough, now I have to worry about if I’m mom enough?! Geez!  Okay Let’s see:

  • I don’t cook for him nightly.
  • I DO provide unhealthy fast food substitutes. (*wonder if I should just breast feed :/ )
  • I use foul language around him.
  • BUT I use that language in complete sentences.
  • I’m short tempered with him.
  • That temper usually flares up when he’s not doing what he should in school.
  • I’m ALWAYS busy.
  • I’m ALWAYS willing to drop everything when he needs me.

Well mom judges,  How am I looking? Did I mention I’m a single parent?! That’s gotta get me a bye!

Dammit! Motherhood has been turned into a high stakes game with no clear winner. Do I win if my kid goes to college? If he doesn’t go to jail? If he does both? If he goes to jail, but comes out and is a productive citizen there after? If he goes to college, but his entire life is meaningless? There are just too many damn variables.  I love my son dearly, but I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this Motherhood Hunger Games shit.

So here’s what, I hereby advocate for self honest guilt free parenting (okay… maybe guilt lite).  I don’t need detailed instructions from a some highfalutin MD either.  I’m going to raise my son to the best of my abilities. I will make mistakes, but try my best to avoid the biggies (e.g. neglecting to feed, clothe, or nurture him). Even if I fall on my ass I will vow to get back up and continue giving him all the love and support that a selfish self centered letch like me can :).

Rosie.

The Zion Chronicles: The Crooked Smile

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my boy. This is mainly due to his request for me not to. I believe that children deserved to have their privacy respected unless they’re in a position of potentially being in danger then all bets are off. This has allowed us to begin to foster a relationship of mutual respect ,  a respect that I feel will make for  a better parent/child relationship when he’s no longer of rearing age, and keeps me out of Shady Pines in my golden years…hopefully.  Today, with his permission I write about his triumph.

As those who have followed me through this his first year in middle school can attest, it’s been a rough one for our boy. Below average grades, home work struggles, and a completely insane mother breathing down his neck at every turn.  It’s a wonder he survived. I’m overwhelmingly proud to report that not only did my courageous young man survive…He thrived.

Today he was presented with two awards:

1. A Character award for Perseverance:

“Staying with the task an not giving up”

2. Out Standing Student:

Most Improved-Science (you know…that dammable class he couldn’t wrassle up more than a “D” in?!)

The beauty of it all is the journey he took this year, what he learned about himself, and what  I the doubting faithless mother learned about her very capable son.  The minute I got him the help he needed and let go…the miracle happened. He found his way. He didn’t need or deserve my screaming, cursing, and other bassackwards “parenting” behaviors. He needed the ability to fail on his own and then figure out how to do it on his own with others simply lighting the way.

I also learned that grades often have very little  to do with a child’s progress. My son’s final report card for the year would look like a disappointment in some parents eyes, but for me…well I’ll use this analogy. While I was driving him home from school as he told me about winning the awards. I imagined for a split second his crooked jack-o-latern smile from when he was about 7 years old. Completely imperfect with signs of beautiful growth ahead. Kudos Zion. I love you and am the proudest Mom ever :).

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