My neighborhood heard me yelling at my daughter and was appalled.
My neighbor’s wife had a baby five months prior and he still has that new parent glow and enamored with everything his child does. He has yet to find unfinished math homework hidden under the bed or discover that his kid runs opposite of the ball in soccer.
I was my neighbor once.
I was reminded of the challenges of raising a tween while shopping yesterday for back-to-school clothes with my 11-year-old. Sounding more like a politician than a 6th grader, her response to an outfit I declared inappropriate was “Am I the only one who cares about my popularity?!”
Later, when I questioned what took her so long in the dressing room, she said she was “dancing in front of the mirrors.” She said this in a tone that implied this was perfectly normal.
Then there were the cartwheels in the Skechers store. Of course.
Two of the girls in Savannah’s cabin at summer camp this year were missing a leg. How or why two people at such a young age could meet such a fate I’ll never know. When I pressed Savannah for an answer, I got the standard “Dunno!”
“I don’t know why she doesn’t leave him!” I heard many of women snap whenever the Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal came up in conversation.
This “holier than thou” attitude toward Huma Abedin often sprouted from the mouths of women I consider smart, sophisticated go-getters, yet were one time or another involved with questionable characters themselves. I’m talking about women who were with players, hustlers and drunks, or who allowed themselves to be humiliated by their significant other’s behavior because they insisted “we have a great connection.” One would assume these ladies, upon noting the common thread, be oozing with sympathy when it’s the exact opposite. They’re often even more critical of the Huma’s of the world.
As I headed down 14th Street in D.C. to pick-up breakfast at the local Cosi, I was reminded again that in my tiny single parent household there are no traditional roles. By defacto, I am both the hunter and gathered.
It was still early and the DC streets were just starting to wake. There were clusters of homeless men loitering on street corners. “Can you spare some money pretty lady?” Hotel workers consumed cleaning their tiny patch of sidewalk. Young workers with Starbucks cups in hand, who with their J Crew looks, I pegged as working for a lobbyist or a Congressional aide. But, I’m from New York, so I assume everyone in D.C. works on The Hill.
Then came me: the gatherer-turned-hunter. Out early in search of food as my tribe of one waited back at the hotel.
The social worker from Administration from Children Services (ACS) kept calling. She was eager to close the case and get the file with the allegations from the rage-fueled off her desk. (See: Are All Fathers Created Equal? Not Really)
I was happy my nightmare was coming to an end but irked that taxpayer money was spent investigating me when somewhere there was a child locked in a closet or being denied food. Every year in New York another child makes headlines for dying at the hands of his parents. The common thread running through all these cases is that there was horrific abuse that occurred over a prolonged period because ACS dropped the ball.
When people hear I’m a single mom, curiosity often gets the best of them and I’m immediately bombarded with questions about my daughter’s baby daddy. I’ve been through the drill so many times I can recite the questions by heart. It goes something like this:
Acquaintance: “Is your daughter’s father still around?”
Me: “Yes, he lives across town.”
Acquaintance, assuming that all baby daddies fall off the grid: “Does he still take her?”
Me: “Yes, but it’s complicated.”
Acquaintance: “But does HE take her?”
Me: “Yea, but….”
Acquaintance: “No!” shaking their head, “All that matters is that he’s still involved!”