She Raises an Eyebrow with Contemptuous Disgust

zara's picture

"How do you do it all?"

This is a question that I was asked earlier today. It's a simple question, if not a detailed and forthcoming one in its stripped down state. The query could refer to an innumerous amount of things, but the question was very pointed, punctuated with that titular eyebrow. This was asked of me today when I was finally starting to get back to a normal state of mind after a 10 day battle with emotional and physical pain.

This was asked of me about my parenting, a thinly veiled question where it inferred that I am a mother of lesser quality while posturing as a compliment.

I stopped for a moment and went where my brain normally sends me - the soft little center of my sincerity lobe. Synapses were firing, thinking of how to form multiple sentences explaining to the woman asking me this question, a woman I barely know and owe no explanation of any of life's comings or goings to, when it suddenly dawned on me that this was a rhetorical statement.

She didn't really care how I did "it all." This woman I know in passing through my day job wanderings was being a cunt to my face because I was in a good mood and she was not. As I spoke of things that I wouldn't have considered offering information about had she not started grilling me in the first place.

I sat in my seat and looked at the embittered face, wondered how many times I had made a similarly grotesque expression towards another mother. I considered if my envy or jealousy or just plain sporadic assholishness looked this repulsive. I was instantly humbled by her face, her eyebrow, her insinuation.

The conversation had started around paying the bills. The woman is in the same line of work as I am and our paths cross at certain daytime activities for those in our care. Working in social services is not a field to delve into if you're looking for a leprechaun to pop around the corner and hand over his lucky charms. You're fortunate enough to barely tread water if your income is supplemented by a spouse or partner's better paying position elsewhere. If you have to be a single parent, frankly, good fucking luck at not working just to be broke.

My trifles with writing here on the internet and in any other freelance capacity I have been auspicious enough to obtain provide me with a means to not lose my sanity. I get enough money to either pay all of my bills in full and have a small portion left over or I pay my bills in part and have a remaining chunk that leaves my easy to please ass satisfied for a few months.

I am frugal with my spending, even if it is expansive. My daughter has a bookcase half-filled with $3 bargain bin DVDs next to books purchased with bookstore rewards coupons. She has clothing that I get in extra-small sizes from the junior's section of stores, being that a child loves the ugly colors that a teenager will turn their nose up at, all bought in multiples for a penny to the dollar that most other parents spend.

Perhaps I'm lucky because my kid is easy to please. Perhaps she's just still at that "right" age where anything is a good thing. Perhaps it's because I don't possess a label whore's mentality, thus spawning a child who doesn't mind $2 flip-flops and watching an old movie which just "looks cool" from the cover art. Perhaps I have earned contempt for only having one child who gets rare bouts of the "I-Wants" coupled with a partner who needs little more to please than a bi-monthly trip to the comic book store, a daily dose of bargain label energy drinks and tips in forms of sexual favors. The last part really being my offer and not his demand.

It occurred to me that as I was being asked what I did, what I wrote, how much it paid me, how many kids I had, what her age was, where I lived, how much I was out in rent and whether or not my car was on lease or payments that I am either one of those special high-tech vaults which require Charlize Theron being coaxed by Mark Wahlberg to open or I'm a screen door hanging off its hinges. I had indeed invited the spite being mentally spit at me by sincerely just being me and answering her questions.

Yes, I have a car payment. Yes, I have only one daughter and she's going to be 9 in October. No, I don't get child support from her biological father. Yes, I have a boyfriend who pays the rent. Yes, all of the rent. No, he's not a cold, mean, demanding bastard. No, he doesn't go out with friends and drink/smoke/fuck his money away with no regard to my feelings. Yes, he's emotionally supportive and financially stable. Yes, I get free child care because my mother is now retired and my sisters are adult aged and available and willing to hang out with my kid. No, they do not do it completely for free because I work on a strange barter system where car rides, occasional "can you float me?" monetary questions are asked and no, I don't find any of that to be a burden or a bother because they're my family.

Break. Pause to consider where the chink in the armor is. Then the question.

I must be an inferior mother. Oh, what a knife wound that is wielded in the hands of another child-bearer. Sure, I can do it all at the expense of something and that something must be my child. Sure, as I sit here at my computer desk right now, my kid is in her bedroom, an adjoining wall away, playing blissfully with Barbies that had been in my former collection. She plays by herself at the exclusion of play dates, soccer games, karate classes. She prefers to watch all of the special features on her DVDs to hanging out with me right now. She is entertained by her own imagination.

How fucking dare I?

I am leaving her to her own wits. This is not something that I offered as information. The screen door had been replaced at that particular time, after properly accessing that eyebrow. How do I manage to write, pay my bills on time (if not always in full, thus occurring finance charges), satisfy my personal relationships and my romantic one as well as take care of my child?

I just do.

There are always sacrifices made in one's daily life to achieve an actual "life." The route by which you take, the genre by which you choose to live your life in, that varies by the individual. I thought of my friend Lesley at that moment. Of how many times Sam and I had speculated on how she managed a husband with PTSD, four children under the age of 9, full time school, work and even fitting in reading stacks of recreational use novels.

I don't do the laundry. I rarely cook from-scratch meals (nor do I rely only on fast food joints). I forget to do my daily day-job paperwork until a week past its deadline. I can't keep track of doctor or dentist appointments. I am rewarded with praise from my friends when I get off my ass to file legal work that is months (years, really) past due. I walk the trash out on the rare occasion. I still watch at least 4 movies a week. I still play Sims 3 for a few hours as well. But I rarely watch television unless I'm lazy or sick. I hug and kiss my daughter every night before she goes to bed and get a good-bye kiss in the morning as her new dad takes her to my parents house.

I suppose I am the epitome of the grown-up spoiled brat. But ask my kid what she thinks of me as a mom. Ask her schoolmates why they're crying because they don't like their after-school care provider. Ask me where my kid is at any given moment of any day and I can pinpoint her location with better than GPS accuracy. Oh, and while you're at it, ask my kid what I do for a living.

"She goes to her work and helps disabled people learn how to work as 'normal people' but still be disabled. She writes on the computer for Joblo, she helps charity and she loves me."

The above answer was just given to me, followed by a question. "Whatcha bloggin' about?"

How I do it all.

"How do you do it all?"

The face is freckled, the nose is sporting flaking skin from a sunburn achieved from playing at the park with my mother, the mouth is a smooth line that curls at the right corner, the eyes are blue circles of wonder and curiosity.

I just do. Now shut up and just go do too.

Comments

*applause*

Very well said!

Some people just like to judge! I've long learned to not give a fuck about these people. As long as you're happy, that's all that matters!

mistylou69's picture

*applause*

So, you're a spoiled (Adult) Brat! I think you work your ass off. And, honestly, I KNOW I wouldn't be able to go to work all day, write several columns/pieces/reviews (not to mention the research and remembering that goes into them...I have a mind like a freakin' sieve), and do the roller derby stuff, plus arts and crafts and reading and movies. You do a lot, but it's your life. That's just what you do and if you ask me, you're doing a damn fine job of it. Your daughter is an intelligent, caring, talented person...so you must be doing something right! ;)

xxxoooxxx
Misty

lrk1977's picture

You summed it up -

I'm not phenomenal and I have my bad days, like today. ;) And pretty much, you summed it up, "I just do."

I have to tell you, I am really jealous of your childcare situation! Fortunately, this fall, we'll have our schedules set up to match the kids. One of us will be home every day after school, etc. I'm looking forward to it - I hate daycare! Scotty wouldn't take a nap today because he missed his mommy. :*(

I read stacks of recreational novels as my escape from reality! I miss my Steinbeck, Hugo and Hawthornes, but there's no way I would be able to "read" that stuff while at the playground or during the 1,000th viewing of "Cars."

A lot of people ask me how I "do it" not really caring for the answer, it's more a way for them to get over the shock value of "four kids, full-time student, etc." as well as giving themselves enough time to escape in case any of that is contagious! ;)

Somethings we just have to give up for a season, soon enough my babies will be gone and I'll miss the noise, the mess, the mountains of laundry, the fights, etc. Everyone always tells you it goes fast, but you never realize it until you're watching firsthand.

And for what it's worth, you're one of the BEST moms I know! I love that you're unconventional and so open with Midget! There are some days where I try to be a little more "Zara" with my kids! And don't laugh, I'm serious! I've learned a lot thru your experiences with Midget. :p Who said good moms do laundry? Good moms talk to their kids just like the example you gave in this blog. She's going to remember that you stopped and listened way more than if you could separate the delicates from the cottons! ;)

Lesley

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