There are things I catch myself saying, rules that I have to declare that I never would have imagined for myself; like, "Honey, no weapons on the bed," or "Please don’t pee off the porch
," and, "If you stick your head between those bars, it will get stuck, again."
But when my afternoons are spent hunting for tree fish in the swimming pool, and folding size three Batman Underoos, those things aren’t odd.
It’s joggling to be placed back into a world with people my age, who appropriately, have no children. I catch myself reaching to wipe dirty faces, with my own spit no less. And I frequently stop and look around me when someone says a "swear."
I will be a teen mom for the rest of my life. It is a label I often forget until I am among strangers.
Upon realizing that I have a child, I am immediately presented with that, "Ooh, sorry to hear that," face, like I have just announced that I have leprosy. Then comes, "Are you... married?" Which is a semi-polite way of saying, "Were you easy in high school, or did the father leave you when you told him you were knocked up?"
Before I married, I'd stutter with my answer, which I know they won’t understand, I am flushed with irritation. I can feel judgment like a flea at my ankle. A list of stereotypes are printed across my forehead, blinking a headache at my temples.
"His father and I live together, but we’re not married..." This could mean a number of things to the sorry bastard who thinks I’m as predictable as a Disney movie.
They’re not married... Huh... Interesting... I’ll bet he’s got a few girlfriends. I’ll bet it’s so she can get food stamps. He probably doesn’t even work. I’ll bet he has tattoos. He probably drinks too much. Maybe he beats her. It’s too bad. She looks like she could do so much more with her life. If only she didn’t have that kid, and that deadbeat boyfriend who won’t marry her. I don’t like him. I feel so sorry for her.
Now maybe I’m being dramatic. Maybe that isn’t a loaded question. But sometimes I can see it just behind the forced smiles of those well-meaning people. It’s that same look you get when you tell a priest that you’re not Christian, when you can see yourself for a split second through his eyes, and you’re burning in a hell you don’t even believe in.