Thursday, May 20, 2004
Public Service Announcement:A Word You Shouldn't Say to a Single Mom
I don't know who coined the phrase "readymade family", but it was probably first uttered by a man on a sitcom.
My family is not readymade.
Everyone has their own life to live, and everyone should know their own limitations and what they're willing to deal with - especially in terms of a romantic relationship.
For instance, I don't think I could marry a man who had to care for two invalid parents in his own home every day. Not right now, at any rate. I just wouldn't be able to deal with it at this point in my life.
Similarly, I don't think I could have a long-term relationship with a man who's dedicated his life to rescuing and raising baby wolverines. I might love him for his selflessness, but the noise and the smell would bother me. (I'm being up front about that now, so that men with wolverines can avoid the heartbreak.)
In the same way, I completely understand that there are going to be people who don't want to have a long-term relationship with a woman with three children.
And that's fine. I respect that. It might hurt my feelings just a little bit that I don't yet inspire the kind of love that would overcome those feelings. But I do totally understand and respect that my single motherhood is not necessarily compatible with any given man's chosen lifestyle.
Don't ever tell me, "I don't want a readymade family." No matter how honestly and respectfully you might be trying to mean it.
My family is not readymade. I'm not standing on the side of the road with my kids in a basket and a sign that says "Readymade Family! Fast and Convenient!"
My family is my family. My children came out of my body and I raised them for years and years, and I will continue to raise them for years, and that is the most important responsibility in my life, and it always will be. They are part of my world. And it's a good world, because we worked hard to make it that way. And I know it'll only get better as time goes on.
And you either want to be a part of that world, or you don't. And if you don't, I understand.
But don't call my family "readymade", like it's a package of ramen noodles I'm trying to make you buy when you'd prefer to make your own from scratch. Or like it's a cheap factory suit that I bought you for your birthday when you wanted to have a suit custom-sewn.
My family is my life. If you can't be a part of that life, that's fine, but insensitive cliches don't apply.