Single parent

People at church mean well. Lord knows they do. But sometimes they say things that, if you were out on the streets and away from all the Bibles, would get them a tongue lashing that included some words that would make the pastor cringe.  

Por ejemplo: at the let-out of a women’s event a few weeks ago, I was making chit chat in the lobby, minding my own business, when random conversation with an older saint turned to my singleness and my unspoken desire to be married. Unspoken to her, anyway. Still, she tilted her crazy little head to the side and stroked my arm sympathetically.

“I know you want a family,” she ventured, pity written all over her face. Hmmm, I thought. I could've sworn I already had one. Just because there's no hubby or daddy in front of the TV when we get home or cooking vittles in the kitchen on Saturday morning doesn't mean The Girl and I aren’t already a family. Just the two of us.

I look at a man like this: if one comes along who can join this program already in progress, that’s beautiful. We’ll welcome the addition. But I haven’t built our life based on the hope that The Amazing Dream Fulfiller will sweep me — and my child — off our feet. I by myself am enough. She by herself is enough. And together, we make a heck of a dynamic duo, single parent household and all.

In fact, she told me a few months ago that she likes it being just me and her and wouldn’t want me to get married. OK, I wouldn’t go that far.

I am, however, glad that she’s gotten one lesson I’ve been trying to instill in her down pat. A man shouldn’t have the power to make you or break you. And heck, sometimes having a man around the house is just that — having a dude around the house. If he’s not contributing and making things better, that sucka is just dead weight.

It’s not the kind of relationship I would ever willfully sign up for, but I’ve seen plenty of women have buyers’ remorse after praying and pleading and hoping and searching for a man. Then they get one and realize they could’ve done bad by themselves. A big no thank ya to having that kind of baggage soaking up my air conditioning and propping its funky Sasquatch feet up on my coffee table at nights.

In actuality, I don’t feel like either one of us are suffering too much for the lack of testosterone in our home. Between male role models and my multitasking mothering, Tween Girl is getting what she needs. And while it would be nice for her to have a man to run home to, I can’t waste time bemoaning the fact that one isn’t there. And I’m surely not going to pluck up anything with outdoor plumbing between its legs just to have a male presence in the house.

Single parent homes aren’t anything as dysfunctional as social conventions make them out to be. In fact, I know a lot more two-parent families that struggle along harder than ours. There are extramarital affairs. Constant bickering. Kids caught in the middle. On the Harris homestead, there’s none of that drama. Don’t get me wrong, there’s drama. But folks build up mom and dad outfits like they’re the only answer.

I get that the traditional nuclear family is still the standard for churning out happy, healthy children. But it’s just not the reality of our lives today. I can’t live life like something is missing or there’s a hole in the lineup because, truth be told, there might not ever be a man there. That’s one of the few parts of my life that I can’t control. And if there’s not, it’s not going to mean that me and The Girl haven’t lived fully.

I’ve heard of women waiting to buy houses and take big vacations until they have a husband to do it with. What kind of example would I be setting for my child if I was saying, without coming out and saying it, that a guy is the key to scratching the major goals off my life list? Puh-lease. We’ll live life like it’s golden, me and her as a family.

Do you think kids raised by single parents are disadvantaged compared to peers raised in two-parent households?

Image via tostadophoto.com/Flickr