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The One Good Thing About Being the “Only”

2 months ago

1156 words

Photo: I take particular pleasure in a good, velvety yolk. I live for a good eggs benedict. Over- or under-cooked and I just growl. When it was time to teach The Husband how to cook, the first thing I taught him was how to get the eggs right. It took him a while, but he’s achieved what I like. So, a sunny egg, some kitchen garden hash featuring the purple peppers and carrots from our garden, all topped with a raw jalapeno from our CSA? Perfect Sunday breakfast.

 

Longtime readers will remember that one of the things I hate most about suburban motherhood is small-talk at the playground. When the boys were younger, I used to gleefully take them to the park on cloudy days… or slightly rainy days… or it’s-gonna-rain days or even right-after-the-rain-had-fallen soggy days. I celebrated the glory that was an empty playground. Kid-free (but for my own) and mom-free, because I hate small-talk. It kills my brain cells.

My new suburban-mom annoyance is the dreaded birthday party. Oh, the birthday party. It’s just as bad as the playground. Kids are having a good time. Parents are on the edges, just… watching. Watching. For, like, two hours. And you don’t want to be rude and stare at your phone, so you’re, like… talking about nothing for those two hours. And then add the face that I’m the Black mom and it’s… Lordy… augh.

So, here we are. Birthday party. Backyard birthday party, which is great and awful: great because it’s low-key. Awful because there isn’t a schedule (parties at kid-places are rushed affairs: start in room A, go to room B, time for pizza! time for cake! Goodie bags! Get out!). Oh, and I’ve got my husband who is cripplingly shy. That means I’m doing all the social legwork. And it’s a girl’s birthday party, which means my boys want to bounce and play rough, and this little girl wants to chill and be cool with her friends. sigh

We were fashionably late. Because of fashion. The Husband is a great man with a great mind, but he doesn’t always care about how he looks. My youngest, a great-man in training with a mind that looks more and more like his father’s every day, has similar views about clothing. So… there were wardrobe changes. Major and I waited patiently, but we were late.

When we got there, we found a bouncy castle full of kids and adults all standing side-by-side staring at the kids. Staring. Not talking. There were hushed whispers, sorta, but… there was no real talking. I just… I couldn’t do it.

Here is one cool thing about being The Black Mom sometimes: I can do whatever the hell I want in very specific circumstances. People just expect me to not be doing what everyone else is doing. Bias is often revealed by what the expectation is: either they expect me to be rude and off because racism or they expect me to do the cool thing they really secretly want to do but are afraid to (which is also because racism. Let’s be clear). So when we get to the party and my kids immediately find their friends and bouncy castle, I run into the Hosting Dad. I asked two questions: “Where’s [your wife]?” and then “Can we be helpful in any way?”

Which is a great question because it’s not what people expect and usually the answer is “no, I think we’re all set up” and then they kinda remember they are hosting so they ask, “can I get you anything?” Which is what this dad asked. The offerings were exactly what I needed: “We have seltzer, and juice, and beer. Can I get you a beer?”

Uh, yeah.

So here is the thing: No other adults had drinks in their hands. Not water or anything. And here is this lovely woman in a pink sweater (in 70 degrees and sun) and lovely makeup, noticeable Coach purse and Samsung on her wrist who had, until that point, been standing uncomfortably beside Hosting Dad. When beer is on offer and I (“brazenly” or “rudely” depending on the bias) accept, all of a sudden two other women want one. Matter of fact, Pink Lady says, “oh good! I wanted one, but I didn’t want to be the only one.”

Since I’m the “only” for just about everything around here, I’m glad to take one for the team. It’s now officially ok for you to do you. Black Mom lives to serve.

Of course, I didn’t know they drank IPAs (blech) until some were taken out of the cooler. I nursed one and watched everyone else light up. Suddenly, the adult staring line broke out into pairs and trios. I found my way to the snack table and talked to another mom, an English teacher, about NaNoWriMo and how she should totally write her novel. Next thing I know, there are cupcakes and good bags and boom, time to roll out.

Now, I’m not saying I’m the life of the party. I’m not. I literally found a corner and a beer, planted my feet, and didn’t move from that spot until the party was over. What I am saying is that sometimes it’s nice to be the change-maker. If I’m gonna stand out anyway, might as well use the power for a little good. Conversations ebbed and flowed, children played and were happy. What more can be asked for?

Did I mention my husband said maybe 10 words at this party? Lord in Heaven. Why even bring him, I always wonder?

Anyway, when it was all over, we came home and had a fire in the fire pit. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and all was forgiven. Well, until yesterday, when The Husband called my meatloaf “meatmush” because I forgot the egg and it kind sank a little. That dude, man… He’s the worst.

Loving prayers to you all who are in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas or wherever the storm may be heading. Thinking of you. Worried about you. Please continue to take care. Haven’t forgotten about ya’ll in Texas, either. And yes, I know that some of you Dear Readers are in the Caribbean. I’m so worried about all of ya’ll and praying for you. Reach out. If you are ok, please say so. If you need help or support, please say so. Just to hear from some of ya’ll (via email, twitter or in the comments) would just be nice.

It’s Monday. A whole new week of opportunity awaits. Be swift to love and make haste to be kind this week, Dear Reader. Do this, along with all else that is on your plate, and you’ll make it to Friday knowing you made the most out of your week. I’m here with you. We’ll make it there together.

Until Wednesday, take care (of yourself and others if you can).

 

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