So now I am even more upset about this whole thing. just read that this 22 year old girl was charged with homicide in this case. Now, as I said before, I think she should be punished, but get this: Earlier in the year, a man called Kevin Kelly was only charged with Involuntary Manslaughter and Child Endangerment when his child died for the SAME REASON-being left in a hot car. I was reading this article about it just this morning, and it was talking about how statistically, mothers who leave their children in hot cars are both charged and convicted more, as well as having to serve more time for the same crime. So now, all I can think is that this poor woman has more than one thing stacked against her: she is young, she has breasts, and she works at Hooters. Let me tell you, this is a case of prejudice if I ever heard one.
I hate Fox News, I really do. The seem to have a knack for adding or removing certain words from a story in order to put the worst possible spin on things, and it is really starting to piss me off. This morning I was reading a story about the mom who left her two year old in the car while she was at work, and of course he died. That itself is terrible, I don’t deny that, and I have my own strong opinion that people who are stupid enough to forget they have a kid in their car, well, let’s not go there. It IS a tragedy, no matter how you look at it. But the fact that Fox had to insert that mom worked at Hooters was an obvious attempt to sway public opinion AGAINST this mom; it implied that she was perhaps more careless and less good a mother simply because she works at Hooters. I would be willing to bet a considerable amount of money (had I any) that if good old Kate McCann had worked at Hooters instead of being a doctor, public opinion would have crucified her instead of giving her money.
Why is it that our occupation dictates what kind of parent we are? and why does that apply only to women? You see a man out digging ditches and think, “Good for him for doing what he can to support his family.” you see a woman being a waitress (and having been a waitress in the past, I bet she probably makes a lot more money than most!) and she automatically seen as some sub-standard provider. Yet at the same time, a man can be a doctor and not not have to worry about the effect THAT has on his public persona, but a mom who is a doctor is considered a shitty mom because she should be staying home with her kids.
We can’t win sometimes; while I don’t think this Hooters mom should get away with this scot free (though accidents DO happen, and maybe the loss of her child is punishment enough; I don’t have an answer for that one, or even a theory), I also think that it shouldn’t matter where she works, and I think that Fox is pretty shitty for making it sound like she was some trailer trash mama who works as a waitress “wink wink” while fucking truckers for money on the side.
The bad guy; every ending of a relationship has to have one, right? But let me ask you this, why in the hell does it always have to be me? This subject comes up for a couple of reasons, one being that ex-husband number two called on Sunday after having, literally, disappeared for nearly six months. I mean, I had heard rumors and talked to friends and some of his family before finding out where he was, and even then could not pin an address down for him for approximately two months. One of those classic examples of “the family” closing ranks around him like he was some wounded animal who was being hunted down for his pelt. Which, okay, wounded he might have been (though I have doubts about that one as well), and yes, I was hunting him down, but certainly not for the quality of his pelt! Basically I was looking for him to do the job of Child Support Services, who for some reason, with their vast resources, couldn’t find him. I digress-my annoyance with the whole Child Support management is one for another post. So with one thing and another (all right, he got booted out of his moms house, the doctor he was seeing there refused to treat him any longer because he was lying to get drugs and abusing his staff, and his girlfriend took off and said if he didn’t quit stalking her, she was filing a restraining order), he is back in Idaho and called my house on Sunday. I was not home, but called him back when I got there, and the first words out of his mouth were, “Are you just going to be a bitch or can we talk about seeing my son?” I told him I guess I was just going to have to be the bitch, because he has walked out on his son for the last time…and he said a few choice words and hung up on me.
So in his mind, I am the bad guy, the one person in the world who is keeping him from seeing his son. And yes, right on the surface, I absolutely AM. But what he can’t get, and never will, is WHY. He left, more than once, and has never once stuck around to deal with the fall-out. He hasn’t been the one to try to answer an 8 year old (and 7,6,5,4…)boy when he asks why his daddy doesn’t love him. Or wonders why his dad would drive past the house and WAVE on the way to his girlfriend’s house and not stop. He has been in and out of Sam’s life so much since our divorce that I just can’t allow it to keep happening, yet he can’t see that this decision is based on his own actions, the consequences of his own poor choices. I think it mostly has to do with this image he has of himself as the Devoted, Loving Father who Tries to See His Son but the Ex Won’t Let him-we all know the type, the kind of man that women swoon all over and feel sorry for because he has been SO mistreated….
But you know? I have this totally great 8 year old boy who loves me, who thinks I am just the next closest thing to God, and if keeping this kid, this awesome, beautiful, funny kid protected from his own father, well, then I guess I can embrace the bad-guy persona; it is worth it.
I read my friend April’s blog all of the time, because we are such similar creatures; the issue of single-parenthood, similar ex-husbands, and it always make me stop and think about different things. I have wanted to post for along while about this single-parenthood, and did on my Gather page, but it somehow isn’t enough. It is NEVER enough. I can talk until I am blue in the face, but unless you are there now or have been there in the past, you just don’t get it. I think in so many ways, people in general just don’t get how hard it is sometimes. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, we single mothers make up a large amount of the population, yet somehow society seems to have overlooked the very basic fact that were it not for men who are willing to walk away, we would not exist. This is one of my biggest problems with the whole issue of single-parenthood. Like April, my ex (the last one, as I have had two!)was/is a drug addict, who not only chose not to do the work to get and stay clean, but also chose to, quite simply, disappear. Literally. This happened several times during the marriage, even more times since. The last time we saw him, he was at my house having a supervised visit, he told my son, “I will see you next weekend,” and it took three months for me to even find out where he lived. Yet I am somehow to blame for the fact that I am now parenting four children on my own. I cannot even pretend to understand this, and no longer try. However, I don’t have to understand it to know that it is true. Just recently I was called by my oldest son’s school, asking for a meeting. This Honor’s Student, the remarkable brilliant boy, is failing five of his six classes. When I agreed to this meeting, the teacher asked if I could bring my husband; when I told him I don’t have one, his response, in this flat tone, was, “Oh. A single parent.” Do you think I don’t know what that means? Whether he came right out and said ot or not, the message was “Oh, that explains it. “
No. It doesn’t explain it. I might be a statistic, but this is the kind of stuff the statistics don’t take into account: what about the fact that my daughter, about whom I wrote in another post, chose to live with her dad and stepmom for a year last year? She was promised the world; her own room, money to buy things with, a closet full of Abercrombie and Pac-Sun clothes, unlimited attention. She DID get all of those things, but where does she live now? Back with me, where we can have discussions about birth control and school and who is the cutest boy in her class, where she can go to bed every night feeling safe and taken care of and, more than anything else, totally loved by someone who believes, absolutely, that she is an amazing person. Those little numbers don’t take into account that until last month, there was 13 year old boy who tested at genius level on his IQ tests. He is a cross-country runner, a popular boy, he sings in the choir and has good friends. The other two boys are happy, well-adjusted, friendly little creatures. And all four of them are well-fed, well-clothed, well loved. With no help from their father(s), including financial help, I have raised/continued to raise four lovely, healthy, happy kids. How, then, is this a failure?
I am not the one who failed. I take responsibility for my own choices and the part I played in the problems in both my marriages, as well as in my current “relationship.” However, when push came to shove, I was the one who stuck it out. Not the marriages; when someone wants out bad enough, they are going to find a way to either leave or force you out. And I believe that there are times when divorce is the only way to save not just yourself, but your children. Don’t look at me, my life, and tell me I am a failure. Don’t tell me I didn’t love my husband enough, don’t tell me that if I was more loving (i.e. fucking him more often) that he wouldn’t have an affair, don’t TELL me that I made my own bed so I have to lie in it. Not only is that completely wrong, but it doesn’t help.
Every day I wake up and know that I live in a world where men are allowed to just walk away and not uphold their responsibilities. I live, still, in a world where not only do I make less money than me, but am penalized for having children. Tell me, what about the men whose children I have? Where are they? Let me tell you this: Ex-husband #2 is currently floating somewhere between Idaho and Oregon, unwilling to get a job because then he has to pay some of the $12,000 he is behind on child support. He also, for about three months, qualified for Food Stamps and Medical care in Oregon, due to an accident he got into while he was high, while I have no insurance and don’t qualify for Food Stamps. And there is no recourse for me, no way to force him into being responsible. I am guilty in the past of wishing he would die just so Sam could get Social Security. Does that make me feel proud? Hell no-but it makes me normal. So I know all of this, I know that I am completely on my own, yet I still get up every morning and start it all over again. To me-showing up and living life-is great success, not failure.
So I was just reading in the paper about how Kate McCann thinks she is being persecuted by the media for not looking maternal enough-and I am thinking,”what the hell is THAT about?” There are several reasons this rather enrages me; the first being that she is being persecuted in the media because she was an irresponsible parent who left her three small children alone, in a hotel room, while she went out and had dinner. All right, most of us parents who do something irresponsible don’t have one of our kids come up missing. But really, I have to question any rational parent who thinks that leaving her kids alone-no matter how many feet she was away from the room, no matter how many times the kids were checked on-is in any way okay. To me, my moments of irresponsibility involve things like having leftover cake for breakfast, or buying a CD when I really should buy one of the kids a new package of socks, something long those lines. But leave my kids alone in a strange hotel room so I could go have dinner with friends? Not even on my radar. Can’t relate. No parent “deserves” to have one of their kids come up missing due to irresponsibility, I will concur. But it also seems like such a stupid, selfish thing to do that there is a part of me that says, “Uh, duh?” Of course, I will admit that I certainly think that she had a hand in her daughter’s mysterious disappearance. We will most likely never know, but here is what MY brain/gut tells me happened: Kate and hubby want to go eat dinner, but don’t have a sitter-being, of course, on a vacation. So they think okay, we will just wait until the kids fall asleep, the restaurant is right here, we will be right here to check on them.” But Madeline doesn’t WANT to go to sleep; Why can’t I come? Why do I have to stay here? Where are you going? How long are you going to be gone? On and on, whining and crying and throwing a fit until Kate says, “Goddammit, shut up!” and whacks her head against the wall. I mean, those of us who are parents know well the feelings of rage that come upon us when it comes to our kids; we are a selfish people in general, and sometimes kids just suck the life right out of you. So I see how abuse and “accidents” happen; not out of intent, but out of anger. I would have a lot more sympathy for little old Kate if she would just be honest and say, “Oh my god, I did this and I was angry and I didn’t mean it!” Not that I think there is any excusing it; I believe in punishment for those kinds of things, absolutely. But I also think, “Where is this woman’s support network that would help if she gets that angry?” Of course, I am just guessing, putting my own spin on what happened; we are really never going to know the truth.
The second part of my fury comes from this: what does having big boobs have to do with looking maternal? Talk about a stereotype! I mean, really; Kate might not look like a mother, but that has a lot more to do with having the money to stay well-dressed and hair done and perfectly manicured than it does with the size of her boobs. I don’t have the same issue, and sugar, big boobs rarely make a person look maternal; mostly they make us afflicted with them either look unkempt and sloppy OR like a stripper, depending on the day. And why this bothers me so much, I am not sure. Maybe because it seems like such a ridiculous thing to say, maybe because it sounds like ego (as in ‘look how great I look, I don’t even look like a mom!’) mixed with anger at those who have the gall to criticize her. Maybe she realizes that public opinion/sympathy might be waning, and instead of actually facing the reality of why that might be happening, she is trying to blame it on the media. All I know is that I have to mark her down as one more person who I never care if I hear about again.
My nearly 15 year old daughter went to a Purity Conference on Saturday. I let her go because it was important to her and because I think that any program designed to allow kids to make informed decisions about sex is a good thing. Or at least I thought that before she went. All right, all right, being a church-based program, of course I should have been prepared for the moralistic viewpoint; no brainer. And on one level I was. I mean, of course a religion-based Sex Ed. program isn’t going to tell the kids about birth control, right? What I was not prepared for were the absolute lies-told in the name of Christianity-to these young kids. One of the things my daughter talked about as fact was that “all the programs that come into the schools and talk about birth control are also the same programs that will give you an abortion,” and I was thinking,”What the hell are you talking about?” Because to my knowledge, the Sex Education Program at the schools talks about all sorts of methods of birth control, including but not limited to abstinence. What they are not allowed to do is talk to the students about what to do if they do get pregnant, although last year my daughter was given a list of potential resources. Also to my knowledge, Planned Parenthood is the only ‘program’ that offers abortion as a possible option, and they are not allowed to come into the schools. There was also, of course, the “abortion is murder” argument, as well as the “you have to be pure or God doesn’t love you” message, and I was left reeling. Not so much about the nature of the message itself; like I said, I had a pretty good idea of what the general message was going to be. No, what bothers me the most is how willing my daughter is to accept this one viewpoint as fact, and cannot-or will not-see her way clear to exploring any other possibilities.
Here is my view: abstinence is the only sure way. We all know that. But what about the religious viewpoint that says you are immoral, impure, and unloved if you are already having or planning to have sex? What about those kids who are already out there, unprotected, who don’t hear that there are ways to make it safer? Talk about letting a huge percentage of the population fall through the cracks! And what about the theory that God won’t love you unless you are pure? I have to disagree with that as well; otherwise, the God I know and love would have given me up for a lost cause years ago, and not just for having sex! I tried to talk to my daughter about this-that even though abortion not be right for us from a personal standpoint, there are many, many women who feel like it is the best option for them at the time. I also tried to talk to her about our own morals/beliefs/ethics and why other people might not agree with that. Doesn’t mean we are wrong, but neither does it mean they are. Last, I tried to inject some of my own personal beliefs in there-that if we don’t want other people to dictate what we believe or impose their morals on us, what makes her think it is acceptable for her/us to do the same?
This is the problem I have with religion, so to speak: that a select group of people has the moral market cornered, and that there is no room for any other viewpoint. I believe in God; I even take my kids to church and attend myself. We day prayers every night before bed, every time we get in the car for a road trip, and I personally spend a rather large amount of time carrying on conversation in my head to the Big Guy. But for me, it isn’t about God and High Priest and Judge; it isn’t about what rules I am supposed to follow in order to “belong” to a particular church. It certainly isn’t about judging anyone for the choices they make in life. There are people who are bad to the core; I believe the Bible says to love the sinner but hate the sin, and I fail at that on a daily basis. I mean, I am sorry, I just can’t have some mythical Christian love for a man who rapes a three year old and videotapes it. I hope people like that burn, frankly. For me, in my life, God is this pretty great person like a big brother, who looks out for you and tries to keep you safe, and then watches you screw things up pretty badly while shaking his head at the choices you make. But He is there, loving us anyway, wanting us to love and support each other where we are that day. And He is always there, waiting for us to come back to Him.
So I keep talking to my daughter, hoping that some of it will sink in. I am a little shocked(and, I will admit, disappointed)that having grown up in a rather liberal household, she prescribes to such a narrow view of right and wrong. Maybe that comes from being young; I have found myself that getting older and knowing more about life has caused a lot of shades of grey to pop up, and I hope that happens to her. I respect and honor her desire to believe in something, even if it isn’t what I believe. I honor her ability and willingness to explore different views, and just hope and pray she doesn’t find herself in a situation where she might have to face making a choice that goes against her beliefs-like abortion. Not because it would disappoint or anger me-I believe it is our right, as women, and I know some really great, really strong, absolutely GOOD women who have made that choice, for reasons of their own-but because it would damage her and the view she has of herself. In the meantime, I keep telling her that yes, abstinence IS the only sure way-I agree 100%-but that if she chooses to not be abstinent, then there are a lot of different ways to protect herself AND that I wouldn’t love her any less.