I went to two more kids' birthday parties this weekend. Had a nice time at both. But. It's hard being the only single mama. Today it really hit me when I had to stay inside and watch B play while all the spouses could go outside with the adults and grab a plate, have a chat, get a drink, etc. I could do none of those things, because B can't be confined anymore. The hosts were very vigilant about bringing me food, drinks, a chair, etc. And I appreciated that. At a party a couple of weekends ago my friend's husband occupied B for well over an hour so I could chat and eat. I appreciated that as well. But there's a big part of me that wishes that weren't the case, that I didn't have to be "helped". I know none of these people look down on me or think I'm not perfectly capable; in fact I know it's quite the opposite. But every once in a while I feel kind of like a charity case, and I don't like it.
I wondered what the people at this last party, who don't know me, thought about my situation. I don't have a wedding ring and was there alone. Did they think I was divorced? Abandoned by some dirt bag (as my ex-friend told her son)? Made bad choices and am now living with "the consequences" (aka my gorgeous, brilliant son)? I found myself quaking in my boots that one of these new people would ask what my husband does for a living or if he has red hair like my son. Why? I've always been so proud to proclaim, "oh no, he's donor conceived," before - what's gotten into me?
It may have to do with a conversation I had Thursday night. An older woman of my acquaintance who I like very much has the unfortunate habit of revealing unpleasant things people have said about me. Back when it was about how sick I was from morning sickness at my 2011 event, she told me later "everyone" was saying what a "bitch" I was being and that if I didn't snap out of it my event would "continue to go downhill" (just for the record, my event is far from going downhill. Last year's attendance was the second highest ever in fifteen years). That comment has stuck in my craw for a couple of years now. Then Thursday night when I mentioned I was really enjoying taking a more active role in the SMC community, she said "when you first did this, people would ask me, why would she do that?" It really bothers me that there are people out there who think I did this out of some sort of last ditch attempt at having a family or that it was something I was forced to do. It bothers me because it's kind of true.
There's just no getting around the fact that unlike almost everyone I know, nobody ever chose me to procreate with. Now in the end this doesn't really mean anything - half these people will be divorced in ten years, and I'm sure more than one woman I know goes to bed at night knowing she settled for some schmendrick just so she could have a traditional family. But I'm sure, too, more than one person has had a little snicker at my expense, thinking how low I've fallen that I had to have a baby by a sperm donor. I will freely admit that in my less empathetic days if I'd heard some woman I didn't particularly like had done this, that's exactly what I would have thought.
So I put a good face on. I know B's feelings about his origins are going to be directly tied to my feelings about it. I try to act like this was the plan all along, that I never wanted to subjugate myself to some man. That it's a joyful, positive thing. And again, all of this is true. And the longer I live this lifestyle, and now even planning another child by this process as if to commit myself more fully, the less I have those feelings of inadequacy, of my lifestyle somehow being second best to that of my married friends'. Until I go to a party where it's all couples and I see the husbands watching the baby so mom can have a drink and talk to her friends. Then, just a little bit, I feel like I got the short end of the stick.