I was standing in the bathroom just now washing my hands when I started to laugh. The pearls, black shirt with a boat-neck combination kinda gives me a High School Senior Picture vibe today. I have had it in the back of my mind for a little over a week to try and write down how I have been feeling recently… like I graduated. I’m not exactly sure when it happened. But I am not a “Single Parent” anymore. It wasn’t a role I was fond of having and not one I took on over night, it was a gradual transition in some respects. Just as shedding it has been. Last weekend we met up with a friend of Em’s and her mom. She’s in the thick of it, the negotiating, the lawyers, the business end of falling out of love, or at least marriage. I had so much to say. But I felt myself bite my tongue. All of a sudden my “been there, done that” freshly divorced advice sounded like it came from someone that had “been there and done that” a long, long time ago. Moments in my life that stung, that made my eyes swollen, that made my arms ache from just trying to keep it all together… they were fading. Moments you tell yourself that you will never forget… some good, some bad, defining moments. They do fade. And if you’re not careful you don’t even see them leaving… so I thought I’d best get it all down before it feels like it happened to someone else. I tell MQD that someday Em will barely remember a time when she didn’t have a mom, a dad and a step-dad. I never imagined that I wouldn’t remember it either…
Strangely, I have mixed feelings about not being a “Single Parent” anymore. I love that Emily is reaping the rewards of having a larger everyday support system. I love having a partner to bounce my thoughts off of and I obviously appreciate not being the only care-giver in our house on a day-to-day basis. There’s “me” time, whatever the shit that is but moms love it, apparently. But strangely… I am mourning the loss of a certain badass-nesss that came with the “I got this” attitude that I brought to being a single mother. It was hard. Sure. There were harried nights when the dinner I put on the table left a little bit to be desired. There was more television viewed in my house than I cared to admit. But we were an unstoppable team, me and Em. It was Us against the world and I felt no need for an apology.
No one asks you how you manage it all when you have a partner in crime. Like somehow the job of being a parent is supposed to be unilaterally easier when you have another job, that of domestic partner/girlfriend/lover/fiancée/best friend, added in to the mix. Yes. Having MQD makes being a mother easier. But being a mother AND a woman is harder, infinitely harder than being only Em’s mother ever was. All alone, me and Em, my heart was never torn about where I should be. I never wanted two things all at once. Both with a desperate ferocity that only love can bring.
Last night I was awoken by a weird banging sound. It scared me. I woke up MQD and he checked the doors for me. I was grateful he was there. We laid back down and my heart was still racing the way it does when you wake up in the middle of a nightmare. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I rolled over against him and as is often the case when we are awoken in the night he was almost completely back to sleep in mere moments. I was frightened still. And I hopped out of bed, Snoopy, PillowDog and bed pillow in hand and headed for Em’s room. I recall saying that I didn’t like her being so far away from me, I couldn’t protect her from the Boogie Man that was surely lurking outside our doors. I slid in to bed beside her and she placed one hand on either side of my face. Her teeny little body warm against mine. She leaned her head against my chin and I could smell her. And all at once I felt safe.
And then I felt guilty. I imagined the Boogie Man entering through the minuscule crack below our bedroom window and who was there to protect MQD? I’d all but given up an offering to the Boogie Man. Saved myself and my little lady without a backwards glance.
I have graduated. I am not a Single Parent. But I haven’t quite figured out how to love them both all at once without feeling like someone gets short-changed. And I think I’m gonna keep that BadAssMom cape you get at Single Mom school. I earned it.