Emotion (currently out of stock)
Kicking back with 2 litres of room temperature Dr Pepper, I decided to have a flick through the articles on singlemommyhood.com. Firstly, what a fabulous site! It’s refreshing to see a forum for single parents (yes, Dads too) that approaches the day to day trials and pitfalls we all face with a no-nonsense, best friend telling you off over a cup of coffee attitude. One particular feature caught my attention, though.
When a boyfriend wants to co-parent.
See, bubble-headed optimists (or the ‘When I have a Baby..’ Brigade, as I fondly think of them) might think that simple statement is sublime. Right up there with, ‘Of course your bum doesn’t look big in those jeans!’ A man, who not only has proven capable of putting up with the usual feminine neuroses (see bum comment), but accepts your child. And, better yet, wants to help you with the 24/7 job of parenting.
Wrong. Wrongwrongwrong, Brigade members.
Perhaps I’m biased. I’ve been a single parent.. well, pretty much since the birth of my son. Certainly for the past three years, officially. Which, in my opinion, makes me very qualified. I know what my son needs before he has to ask, I know when to expect a ‘meltdown’, I know how to ignore the little things and be strict about the little things that actually matter, when you’re trying to teach a small person about the world. And with the best intentions in the world, I still can’t take some ‘newbie’ telling me otherwise.
I have my methods. It’s taken years to work out the kinks. But they work for us. Shouldn’t prospective parent figures come with a resume?
Ability to deny ice cream when necessary
Don’t get me wrong. Even the most hardened cynicist (aka me) sometimes has one of those days, when at some point we pause and think ‘this would be so much easier if there were two of us’. But it lasts maybe five minutes, then normality resumes. Five minutes, out of 24 hours. Not exactly a full-time position, is it.
Which brings me to another point. Dating is/was hard enough when you only had your own tastes and concerns to obsess over. Now you’re dating for two. Logically, the concerns would double. Frankly, it seems more like quadruple.
A hangover of ‘mom guilt’ is that you are an on-call chauffeur, cook, playmate, artist, cleaner, lion-tamer, astrophysics professor. You could be called upon at any moment, for any one of these talents you seem to have picked up over the years. It’s like being 007, just without the Aston Martin and gadgets. How much time does that leave, to offer any kind of affection to your poor, hopeful, always slightly less significant other?
I’ve introduced two prospectives to Twig, over the years. And only then after a lot of worrying and obsessing; picking the right time of day to avoid a tantrum, a neutral space, a distracting activity. It’s on their terms. Isn’t everything, since you had them? Anyway, let’s take a look at their respective resumes.
Applicant 1: Cage
Previous Experience: None. But very, very pretty. With nice big arms.
Qualifications: None. Did I mention his arms?
Hired? Emphatic no.
Much to my dismay (and that of my vastly frustrated libido), Cage didn’t hit it off with Twig. He did his best, and I appreciated the effort. But it wasn’t going to work. So why put myself through all the complications and heartache, when the results were already in? Ten seconds in a room with a toddler had sealed his fate.
Applicant 2: Newt
Previous Experience: Plentiful.
Qualifications: Indirectly, quite a few. Having worked in the care industry, and around children with various learning difficulties, Newt remained unphased by the occasional meltdown, and demonstrated a lot of patience and kindness.
..but he doesn’t have nice big arms.
How hard can it be, to find an all-rounder, to keep both Cake and Twig happy? And how long will it last, before said applicant starts treading on mommy’s toes?
I suppose at the heart of the matter, the question is this. Will we ever meet that person who satisfies all parties so wonderfully, that we’ll be willing to concede some of the control and calm we’ve so carefully honed all by ourselves to let them learn and grow with us, or will they always be, in one way or another, somewhat set apart from the real team; parent and child?