When we began this blog, I had the idea that I would chronicle my life as a single parent raising a brilliant child. As it turns out, raising a brilliant child as a single parent is more time consuming than I estimated.
Okay, so I never estimated the time as I never planned on becoming a single parent. I never planned on a lot of things that have happened. (That’s life, right? It’s what happens when you’re busy making plans, or something like that.)
A couple of years have passed since I became a single parent and decided I’d like to write a blog, and I have learned a lot. I have loved a lot and I have worried more than I probably should. This is hard work; single parenthood.
Being a single parent can take many forms. Here is my version. I was suddenly, without any warning whatsoever launched into single parenthood in a split second. My partner, my child’s father was ripped from our lives without giving me a chance to prepare. I have no child support or alimony and my son has decided to sever ties with his father altogether (but that is a topic for another blog post, or several blog posts).
My parents have both passed away, my in-laws are gone as well. So here we are, my son and I, facing this world alone for all intents and purposes. Sure, we have friends and family who support us and they are a wonderful bunch of kind-hearted, sweet-minded, well-meaning folks. We could not make it without them. But the nitty gritty, day-to-day crap, that’s all on me.
To make matters more difficult, what my ex did to us was earth-shattering and humiliating as he had a massive public meltdown. His notoriety taints every aspect of our lives. Every. Single. Aspect.
You wouldn’t think his actions could be that far reaching, but truly, they are and it is crippling. Somehow, we work through it.
I hold a considerable amount of anger and resentment toward the man whom I once loved. That anger is never more seething than the times I see my son struggling or hurting. I blame his father for the struggles. It’s not entirely right of me to do so, but damn it, he hurt us and the hurt keeps burning. The wounds are deep and they are compounded by the notoriety. I never realized what an ugly word that is, but there it is, in our faces every day. We can’t forget it. The world won’t let us.
That is not to say that the cruel people of the world, and unfortunately we’ve met a few, use the notoriety daily. But it is always there and it taints everything we do. Every good day is tempered by its ugly, dark, ominous presence. It’s like a virus that underscores everything we do, all that we are or all that we ever hoped to be.
We wear it like an ill-fitting jacket. It would be wonderful to unzip it and slip it off. Just peel it off and leave it in the donation bin. No, strike that, I wouldn’t want anyone to have that jacket. Not even the cruel people. It’s that ugly.
Let’s put this into perspective, shall we? Imagine that you are a brilliant student and creative and funny. You could really make a mark on the world and teachers like to nominate you to receive awards and accolades, but you shy away from the recognition and positive reinforcement because there it is, behind every good feeling, that awful biting, terrible notoriety.
Now consider the assholes of the world. There are a few of these in middle school, right? The assholes know about your family’s shame, they hone in on it and see how much it hurts you, so they take every chance they can to rub salt into that wound.
Yes, I could take my son out of this situation. We could sell our home and move. He chooses to stay because his friends are here. His life is here. I support his decision. I admire his strength.
I wonder and worry about his future. How many times will he back away from something spectacular and life-altering because he’s afraid he’ll be recognized?
He doesn’t want to be called to the front of the assembly for fear of being heckled. He doesn’t want to have fun with his friends in the school cafeteria for fear he’ll be recorded and have those recordings used to bully him on social media.
He censors his life. He stops himself from being himself. He closes down. I hate what is happening to him. I hate that horrible, terrible word. He doesn’t deserve this.
I am so filled with anger I want to lash out and wound his father. I want to reach out and hurt the little assholes who wield the shame like a sword. The scars of this will endure. Notoriety is not something a young teenager should understand. It’s not right. It’s not fair. And worse, I can’t change it.