The mom sitting on the bench at the park was trying to make small talk with me, and I don’t know how to make small talk. I was telling her about my schedule with my kids, where one of them is now in college and living in the dorms and the other I see every other weekend and Friday nights.
She brushed an invisible piece of dirt off her spotless jeans, rubbed the toe of one of her TOMS on the back of her calf and peered at me over the top of her sunglasses. “Oh,” she said,” so you’re not a real mom.”
Y’all, I literally was speechless, barely able to open my mouth and shut it several times like a goldfish. I am a super verbose person and could not come up with a single thing to say. I nearly burst into tears.
She had managed to find the one thing I’m sensitive about in a 45 second conversation and poke the wound.
See, I have told myself on several very sad occasions that same thing…that I’m Not A Real Mom.
I didn’t get to take both kids to their first day of school every year, because I had to work or the other parent took them. I missed Halloween a couple of times. I’ve spent Thanksgiving all by myself twice. I have spent Christmas Eve a few times lying under the tree looking up at the lights and trying to have a merry little Christmas all by myself (while crying). There have been several occasions where going out with friends and their kids was too much for me because I didn’t have my kids and I had to cancel (and hide in my bed). I’ve watched people taking their kids to events or to school or soccer or gymnastics or on vacation and I wish so badly I could do the same.
I question my title as a mother every damned day.
Yes, I have children. Yes, I am a single mom. Yes, I only see one kid 1% of the time that I want to. Yes, my son moved out of my house to pursue his dreams. Yes I am alone a LOT for a mom. (Yes, I am absolutely crying while I write this.)
Yes, this has all been (mostly) my choice and yes, this is the best choice for my children.
Just because they don’t spend every single waking moment with me does not make me any less of a mom. Wolfgang is living his best life in the dorms right now, and the little is thriving under the arrangement their dad and I currently have.
How dare you, lady at the park. I’m every bit a mom, even if my gig is part-time. You can take your mom shaming and shove it.