About Me

My photo
...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

After Thought...

My daughter has a knack for catching me off guard and stumping me with questions. And I'm not talking about birds and bee type questions; those I attack with a weapon holstered at my hip because I figure if she doesn't hear it from me she'll hear it from someone I'd wish she hadn't. No, I'm talking about questions that spawn from somewhere deep inside her, born from her own observation, quiet thought, and her own serious need to know. Where I get stumped is whether or not, at her age, it is something she needs to know.

She hasn't been feeling well lately. So the other day I left work early to take her to the doctor. As we were walking into the office she looked up at me and asked, "Is it hard to raise a child by yourself?"

Moments like these seem to induce a weird sense of slow motion, because you're doing something like walking into a doctor's office and your child just asked a serious question, which you know she expects an honest answer to, but do you really want to look at the little girl you're raising by yourself and say, "Yes...yes it is hard to do this on my own," knowing that she's going to internalize that answer and possibly worry herself over it when she doesn't need to? So you settle for something vague like, "It has its moments, good and bad, but I believe parenting is difficult even for people who are married."

Now I was pretty proud of that answer, considering the time constraint I was under. But as we were standing in the elevator she asked, "Well, do you have mostly good moments or mostly bad moments?" Wishing I had settled it with my first answer, I have to admit this one wasn't as hard. I was able to smile at her and say, "Considering the kind of daughter you are, I have mostly good moments and I'm not sure other single parents are as lucky as I am. I certainly didn't plan to do this alone, but since I have to I'm thankful God gave me a daughter like you." With that, she returned my smile and with pure satisfied joy in her eyes, she took my hand and the conversation was over...at least for her.

For the past couple of days I've been replaying that scenario in my mind wondering why she asked that question. Was it because she knew I left work early that day to come help her? What was going on in her little mind the moments before she asked that question? And is it really hard for me to do this by myself? I've been doing it for so long, I've never really taken the time to think about it. But I think my initial answer was correct -- it has its moments.

When I first got divorced, I had to move back in with my parents because I had nothing and that was hard. Being a 26 year old woman, married and divorced with a child, and living with two parents who seemed to pick up where they left off when you were 16...that was hard. Setting my tumultuous emotions to the side so I could focus, finish my BA with a 4.0 and enter into grad school, attempting to build a future for myself and my daughter...that was hard. Moving into my first apartment alone with a two year old on one arm and five to ten grocery bags on the other...that was hard. Sitting in the back row of a Baptist Church that constantly preached about the importance of family values and the evils of divorce, well... I just straight walked away from that one. Accepting the fact that I don't have the privilege of saying "wait til your father gets home," that I must find balance between the nurturing hand and the heavy hand...that was hard (particularly between ages 2-4 and I suspect it will be again between 12-20). Disciplining my child and then lying in bed at night wondering if I did the right thing and having no companion to hear my thoughts...that's hard. Comfortably functioning on one income...that's hard. And dealing with an ex-husband who seems to have a lifetime pass for the Social Short Buss... that's hard. But I guess I never really stop to think of these things because...I wouldn't have it any other way.

My choice to get divorced certainly came with its consequences, its sacrifices, but staying married to my little girl's father? That choice would've come with an entirely different set of consequences and sacrifices that are much worse than what I listed above. There is no one here to mistreat us. There is no one here to make us feel less than the beautifully flawed creations that we are. We are at peace here. We are free to make mistakes, free to talk about them, and free to learn from them. We are free to dream and free to succeed. We are free to exist in the realm we've created where love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, it does not boast, it's slow to anger, believes all things, hopes all things, and never fails. From where I'm sitting, this is the basis of family values, not the institute of marriage. And if I don't receive that in my marriage, well... then... my daughter and I, my family , are better off without it.


  1. Your daughter is very fortunate and blessed to have such a wonderful mother as you. Even with all the struggles of daily life and then some, you still manage to make her smile everyday and make her feel as loved as ever. Hands down, you are one of the best people in the world. No doubt about it.

  2. Thank you for the lovely comment. I know it's anonymous, but given the context I can only assume it's from someone who knows both myself and my daughter. So, thank you.