Friday, October 26, 2012

Pity? I'll Pass!

Tonight's cocktail is wine from a Target box, which the ladies at Rants From Mommyland have ingeniously named a T-Box. The Merlot is surprisingly good. And your kids can easily bring you a refill, so you don't even have to get up off the couch. Winning!

Of course, referring to wine in a box always makes me think of the video below, which is highly inappropriate, not suitable for work or small children, but still, if you don't secretly think it's at least a little funny, this might not be the blog for you.

If I haven't cleared the room with my inappropriateness, on to business. One of my favorite humor blogs is Parenting, Illustrated With Crappy Pictures. I'm not dissing on that blog or Baby Rabies, or their respective authors, who seem like lovely women and who did a funny collaborative post this week. That post was about a week in the life of a mom of an infant and toddler whose husband went on a weeklong business trip. Mom starts the week with the best of intentions to keep everything together (exercise! cleaning! nutritious meals! enriching activities with kids!), but by the end of the week it all falls apart (laundry has morphed into Mount Doom, work ethic has fled, there's cereal for dinner, and if husband doesn't come home with takeout and wine, she's going to cut him). All, of course, illustrated with crappy pictures. Who hasn't been there?

The only problem was that the post was entitled "Week as a Single Parent." A number of actual single mothers past and present chimed in (politely and respectfully) to say that while it was a funny post, and clearly no harm was intended, a married mom doing solo duty for a week doesn't really get to claim the title of single parent, given that eventually help will arrive. The authors both responded graciously and kindly, saying that of course they didn't mean to offend single moms, they know and love many single parents, they were just giving a humorous slice of life, and they hadn't really thought about the nomenclature. It happens. We're cool. Group hug. Feel the love. Too much? My hand is where? OK, sorry. Ahem.

I noticed, though, some commenters who said, "Oh, I could never be a single parent! I don't know how they do it!" I get that in real life, too, all the time. Here's the thing. I don't want pity, even well-intentioned pity. Pity implies that I should acknowledge that my life is bad, and it isn't. Divorce and single parenting didn't destroy me or my kids. Do we face unique challenges? Hell to the yes, but they're no more daunting to me than my other friends' problems (cancer, children with special needs, financial problems, jerky boss, cracked foundation slab, mouthy teenaged daughter, marital unrest, plus all the stuff they aren't ready to talk about) are to them. It's just life.

I think most people are sincerely trying to express sympathy, possibly even admiration, and that's cool. But, just FYI, it's better instead to say, "You do a great job holding everything together. I really admire that. Would you like some wine?"  Or, if your single mom friend is struggling, say, "Sounds like you're going through some crap. Can I come over and bring wine and you can talk about it?" Either way, much more helpful, and probably what you meant. Also, you get wine.

Sometimes, though, people are trying to cover up their fear that they might end up in Divorceland. It sounds crazy, but I actually lost friends over my divorce, because my situation made them uncomfortable. Pitying the single mom might make you feel better about not being her, but it's douchey, and karma is a bitch.

Anyway, I don't have my knickers in a twist on this, unlike when I've previously reported on Sh*t People Say, but I thought a PSA was in order. No pity. Just keep calm and bring wine.

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