Thursday, January 19, 2006

What say you, Single Mother?

I had a drunken evening yesterday. Actually, it was more like a drunken morning. Stumbling home at 430am on a weeknight. What must the neighbours think? "That single mum of No. 29 spilling out of a strange car at that ungodly hour and snogging a white man on the road!"

What has the neighbourhood come to?

What began as a civilised evening over kerabu pucuk paku at Bijan lead to a harmless sojourn at Frangipani. But what do they put in those damned Sour Apple Martinis? It's the closest thing to Snakebite Black in potency and did I suffer! Two lethal glasses down me, next thing I know, No Black Tie sounded like an excellent idea. At 4am I was still listening to the tinkle of piano keys and nursing an auntie-warm water with the tremors of an oncoming hangover murmuring in my head.

But all was not lost, as it often is, on 'five-ten' tournaments and interruptions to the loo, inescapable by-products of non-stop drinking. I met a well known name in the local literary circle. We hit it off almost instantly and we ended the night, no doubt drunk, but liking each other immensely.

"Candice is a single mother too darling and a writer like me", she cooed in her artist boyfriend's ear.


I do not like that term Single Mother. Of course, it comes with a bad rep - oooh, her husband left her, poor thing! But apart from that I don't like it because, you see, I am not. There is nothing uniquely single about my motherhood. Otherwise, all mothers by right would be labbelled single mothers because well, beause there can only be one biological mum, can't there? Or would you then call surrogate mums or adoptive mums single mothers in the absence of the actual biological mum?

OK, I'm off on a tangent leading to nowhere. What I am trying to say is that there is nothing single about my mother or parenthood and I do not like being labelled otherwise. Yes, I am single with no key personalities playing in the doomed production that is my love life, but that has nothing to do with my status as a parent.

Whilst many divorced/abandoned/whatever women are very much single parents, I(ie. rasining their children with limited emotional or financial support) , I do not think it is a term that should be applied as loosely as it is.

In many ways, I do have it very fortunate. I have an immense network of support behind me. Despite being largely absent, Bubbit's Dad still plays the role of a Dad to some extent and is still there, financially, anyway, for him. Bubbit's grandparents have been amazing safety nets, not just with taking him off my hands sometimes, but just really catching the overspill of bad parenting that I dole out. Making right the wrongs. Pointing out the obvious to which I am often oblivious. Like not pooing for a week is bad.

Everyone close to me in my life has, like it or not, parented Bubbit in one way or another. To the extent where I rarely feel that I am doing it alone. Of course, there are the rare moments when it hits me like a tidal wave that I am the key responsible person for Bubbit - that if I died suddenly, no one would know to pick him up from school or whatever. But largely times like that are rare.

The term Sungle Mother also carries with it all kinds of martyr-istic qualities which I do not have. Like being sacrificial. Of having a life that is fraught with financial woes and destitude. Being Responsible. Organised. Capable. Competent.

Which I am sure I possess to some degree but those are not words that immediately come to mind when people are asked to describe me. So I would rather not be labelled and compartmentalised. Yes, I am financially destitute but that is because I spend like a fiend and names like Zara and MNG have a satanic hold over me.

Nor am I angsty about it. I just think people need to really thnk about what they mean when they say Single Mother. And that includes other 'single mothers' out there.

Yes, we have much in common like having to pretend to be asleep at bedtime or having to wake up with a hangover to do the school round but I have a feeling many of us would still face these scenarios with or without gold bands on our wedding fingers. Married or otherwise, it doesn't define my motherhood.

Having purged my mind for the day, I now have to purge my stomach of alcohol. I say soak it all up with an extra large portion of nasi lemak. In with the good and out with the bad! Namaste!