I’ve been carrying this around for six years and two months. No one knows. And now it’s getting heavy; as my son grows older, it’s getting unbelievably burdensome and awkward to hold within.
I’m angry. I’m bitter.
You would never guess that from looking at me. I have myself together. I’m an independent single mother. I provide nicely for my son. He attends a private school. I have my nursing degree, and I have a stable, dependable job with excellent benefits. I am incredibly laid back. I don’t yell, I’m not excitable, I don’t have mood swings.
Except that my insides are teeming with anger. Seething. I grind my teeth and don’t even realize it. I clench my jaw until it aches. Because I am angry.
When I found out I was going to have my son, I was twenty-one years old. I was living with the “father”, who was already a father to a one year old girl. The daughter’s mother did not know that he and I were “together” like that. He told her I was a lesbian and that we were just “roommates”. So imagine her shock when she walked into the apartment one afternoon and found us taking a nap together. She freaked. He freaked, thinking she would take the daughter away from him. She ran out. He ran after. And left me alone, where I remained until he came back in and furiously declared, “You can’t be pregnant and live here”. So I left. Alone. And alone is where I am now, six years and two months later.
I love my son. He is the sole purpose for my existence. He is everything I never thought I wanted. The moment he was born, I realized – this is it. This is why I am alive. For him, and him only.
But still, I was alone.
Yes, there were friends and the occasional family member and heaven-sent home daycare workers, but at the end of the day, after going to school from eight in the morning until noon, then working from 4pm until midnight, I was alone. Me and my baby.
I put myself through school. Twice. I received food stamps, Medicaid. I still remember the hot sting of the flood of tears I had to hold back until I could make it out of the government building and to my car. My pride was crushed. My spirit was broken. And out of those ruins, I created this – our life.
My family told me I couldn’t do it. My mother gave me money for an abortion. I sent it back. I am pro-choice, but my gut told me to hunker down, pull myself up from my bootstraps, and plow through. My relationship with my mother was forever damaged from the moment I marked “Return to sender” on her $400 check. My son is half-black, and my mother’s second husband is incredibly racist. We’re not welcome in her home; therefore my son has no real “grandparents”.
But for all those people who told me “You can’t do it”, I proved them wrong a thousand times over. I turned myself into a one-woman operation. Cleaning, laundry, cooking, shopping, lunch-making, kid-bathing, lawn mowing, rent-paying, ...I could go on but you name it, I do it. Alone.
The “father” has since gotten back together with the daughter’s mother. They had a son, and now they’re married. My son is no more than an after thought to the “father”. A distant memory, a living walking talking piece of proof that he once lied and got caught lying.
All of my friends are married, most of them have kids. And supportive families, and in-laws. It’s hard to be around them sometimes. The husbands and the grandparents and the idea of “family” seems to point to all I don’t have, and all I ache to be able to provide for my child.
Because it’s just me, me and my baby, and I am angry about that.
I am grateful for all that I have. I’m not so incredibly bitter that I am unable to be grateful. We have our health; we have a roof over our heads. My son is beautiful and articulate and imaginative. I no longer have to rely on government assistance. I was able to go to school and rise above the statistics of single motherhood. I also know that I chose this; I knew (to a certain extent) what I was getting into. But really, who truly knows the full repercussions of “what they’re getting into” when entering parenthood for the first time?
Every night I crawl into my son’s twin bed, squeeze myself between him and the wall, fold him into my arms and sing what he refers to as “The Sunshine Song”. And most nights I fight not to cry, even as one or two tears escape, because the words tear me apart. He is my sunshine, he does make me happy, and I would die if ever someone tried to take him away. After the song is over, I kiss him, and I hug him. I tell him I love him, make sure he has his blankets the way he likes them, and his blankies are within reach. I scratch his back, adjust his nightlight, and then I shut his door, and I am alone. My baby is sleeping, and I am alone.
My anger has been shoved down deep inside me for a long time. It festers in the dark, mostly because I won’t allow it in the light, where it could begin to air out, scab over, and eventually heal. I can’t keep shoving it down any longer. It’s eating me from the inside out. I need to allow it to heal, I need to allow it to the surface. This is my attempt. This is me saying, “I am angry”, bringing it into the light, allowing it to the surface, not letting it fester anymore.
I’m angry. But I don’t want to be anymore.