If I could pick two questions that no one would ever be allowed to ask me again, they would be – What’s Up and What’s New. I mean, I’m a stay-at-home mom of a hyperactive five year old and I write between interruptions and things flying over my head – what do you think is up (the decapitated doll or a precious gadget)?
As for the What’s New question (both questions, actually) – I find that it’s the single people who keep asking me that. I ask them what could have possibly changed in a couple of days or a week – since we spoke – and they go ‘Oh well, you’d have to be single and out on the town to know’ or some such thing. I defensively retort ‘But I am single’ and they go ‘Right, but you’re not single single.’ Oh.
Just when I thought getting left out of the cool circles ended with high school. What am I supposed to do now? Join the flashmobbers? It seems to be all the rage these days. Maybe I should get out there (some place where the paparazzi is) and randomly dance (solo) till the cops drive me out with a lathi. I’d be popular in no time. Also, people would fanatically circulate my Youtube clip adding such things as ‘Crazzzzyyyy chick’ and ‘Heheheeeeee’ and I’d be sorted. And like everybody else on Facebook, I’d finally be able to add ‘Living life to the fullest’ on my bio. That should teach the single single people for not granting me admission into their seemingly exclusive club.
Turns out, I’m wrong. That’s not what they’re saying at all. What they mean is – You can hang out with us but you have to forget all parental responsibilities while so doing or it could get in the way of all the fun. I get it – parents (well, mothers mostly) as a group, have earned notoriety for being obsessive-compulsive worriers who can’t enjoy even the extremely rare night-out with friends without making panic calls home to check on what the children are eating, if they’ve been tucked in bed and even sneaking in an I-miss-you call or two when no one’s looking. I know, it can be a bit much.
I make it a point not to do it when I’m out with friends – after all, my parents do a splendid job with the offspring so it’s not like I’m abandoning her with the babysitter from hell. So I even manage to have a great time staying out late, guzzling questionable quantities of tequila – all the while taking care not to bring up the child, home or parenting in conversation. And suddenly – when it’s respectably late (a bit after one in the night) – it feels like I’ve even convinced them, you know? I’ve stayed out late without doing the annoying mom thing. It’s a special moment for me because I’m now about to be anointed single single.
And just as I begin hearing the coronation music in my head, someone decides it would be a good idea to have dessert. One look at that piece of Death by Chocolate and the music (in my head) comes to an abrupt halt. I have a vision of the five-year-old hungry for chocolate cake. And as all people in visions, she’s dressed like an angel and standing on a cloud. I immediately feel a tangible pang of guilt – what kind of mother stuffs her face with Death by Chocolate while her hungry, angelic kindergartener watches on? Oh, I’m no mom. I’m more like the evil step-mother.
It’s only a piece of chocolate cake and there’s nothing rational about how I’m feeling but procreation (and The Brothers Grimm) does mess you up – it’s like you’re no longer allowed to enjoy chocolate, animated movies, dipping your feet in a pool or tora-tora rides unless you are accompanied by the child in question.
Sigh. I can’t keep up – being a parent and being single single are both full time occupations – it seems. I give up – I’m done living two separate lives. What I need is The One – except, I have no idea how to find him given that I’m mostly stuck indoors. Maybe the next time some single type calls and asks me ‘What’s uuuuuup’ and ‘What’s new’, I’ll just put on my scary spinster voice and say ‘I’m looking for The One’.
That should shut him up.
Judy Balan is the best-selling author of Two Fates —The Story Of My Divorce
From HT Brunch, March 18
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