Judgment

PROMPTuesday No. 99 from San Diego Momma:

Judge me for being an anonymous blogger.

Judge you for caring.

Judgment of Divorce: Many years ago I stood in court in my best suit and heels and swore before a judge that I’d follow the word and letter of my divorce decree. That meant taking care of my child, contributing 50 percent to her care and keeping, and splitting physical custody down the middle. For anyone who’s had to do this, there is no middle in a seven-day week. Someone ends up with the short straw. For seven years, that was me.

Judge me for it.

Many did.

I took the very great risk that forging a new life alone would be better in the end than staying in a toxic relationship. I was judged harshly. I lost friends. My ex-husband’s family shunned me for years and spread lies about me to anyone who would listen.

Judge me. Walk in my shoes. Then I’ll judge you.

As a single mother I walked a very narrow line. There were some things I just didn’t do for fear of losing my child.

I lived in fear of  judgments. I dreaded decrees.

I didn’t drink. I worked two jobs at times to have more than enough money to keep us comfortable. I was careful who I had over my apartment. Although I did date, I was discreet. My dates never occurred during my parenting time. Only once did I hire a babysitter when I was a single mother.

Even though I’ve been remarried for almost 10 years, I am still a divorced parent. I cannot shake that. I have an ex-husband who may or may not want to take me down.

Having this blog is a risk. The only way it works is to keep myself anonymous.

Judge me.

Judge you.

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Tale of two

yellowwhite

bluewhite

What is it with the library?
 
It seems like every time I go there, I leave with a blog post. I suppose I should be grateful one institution offers so much for so little in return.

On my latest visit I walked away with two books for me, four for my girl, and a life lesson tucked in my pocket. When I arrived home, I fished it out, turned it over in my mind and decided to save it for further examination. 

So, here’s how it happened: I was hoping to find a room full of children to occupy Girl from the East so I could do some research. Instead, I found one woman and one child in a children’s department roaring with silence. 

First thought: Oh, look at the cute little blond girl with the Asian woman. She must be the nanny. 

Second thought: Shame. Shame. Bad. Bad. As a Caucasian mother of an Asian child, where do I get off jumping to conclusions?  I hate it when strangers give us the once-over and draw conclusions about our family dynamic. Why judge at all? Yet, there it was, a judgment. Plain as the nosy nose on my face.

Third Thought: Truth is, I live in an area where it is fairly common to find nannies and au pairs taking their charges to the library for story time. Many a time I’ve started talking to who I thought was the mother only to have her  wave off my questions explaining: “I’m the nanny.” Sometimes that means: No further questions.

Fourth thought (after I learned they were in fact mother and daughter): We are the exact opposite, yet we are exactly the same.  Although I didn’t ask, I’ll bet she gets a fair share of nosy questions and double-takes about her family dynamic.

Then I stopped thinking and started talking.

“Is your  daughter from China?” the woman asked from across the room.

“Yes,” I said.

“I am from China,” she said, pulling up a chair.

This opened the gates to a flood of questions and answers: What province in China? What city? How long have you been in America? Does your daughter speak Chinese? What is your name in Chinese? What did you do for Chinese New Year?

Before long, we were engaged in stories of China, raising multi-cultural children, the best Chinese markets in the neighborhood, and other moms-of-preschoolers related stuff.

At one point, our girls mistook the library for a playground and began running and shrieking between the stacks. The librarian on duty quickly stepped in. I’m sure she had an awkward moment when she attempted to match girl to mother. At first she directed my Girl from the East to the Chinese mother and the blond girl to me, then quickly switched the girls again.

There was a time when that move would have bothered me deeply. But today I just shared a good laugh with this wonderful woman from Beijing.

Then the two of us mothers gathered our things,  slipped into our jackets, and headed our separate ways. She, a dark- haired woman with almond eyes and a blond-haired child, and I, an American woman with a Chinese daughter.

Two books who cannot be judged by our covers.