Single Mom Slice of Life:
Black, White, and Shades of Gray
Hi… my name is Wendy. I am a 41 year old single mom to two boys. I am short. I have OCD. I have completely unruly curly hair that refuses to be tamed by any conditioner either cheap or expensive. I don’t like chocolate, I hate shopping, and have written two romantic suspense novels under a pen name and am a chapter away from finishing my 3rd.
I am learning to love my life. My oldest boy is a month away from turning 20 and only days away from taking the boards to become a Certified Nursing Assistant while my high school sophomore is the oldest 15 year old you will ever meet. I am the oldest of seven children, am from a broken home, and speak with a British accent when I’m tired and a southern one when I’m exhausted.
If you just met me, and found all this out – would it matter to you what race I am – or more specifically, which race I identify as?
I ask because I have a friend, a white woman, who is currently dating a black man. Now, as the daughter of a black man and a white woman, it is what it is – two people who care for one another. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I am well aware of my naivety. I grew up in Southern California. More often than not, people assume I am Hispanic. I’m not dark, I’m not light, and by the way, my kids are part Puerto Rican, so when we’re seen together in public, our race is just assumed.
It takes a lot to offend me, but I also know that coming from SoCal, I didn’t deal with a lot of what other people from parts of the country have had to deal with. I was not offended by singing cupcakes a few years back, and my first question when the NAACP issue happened was, “but did she do a good job?”
So why then did I become so offended when my friend’s boyfriend implied that I was not being honest when I said that I really did not identify as one specific race? I found the answer a few short hours later.
While getting lunch that same afternoon, I cut through a parking lot to get to my food destination. On one side of the road was a couple of one race. They were making a scene – we’re talking the type of scene that I couldn’t make up and put in a book if I tried. There was inappropriate sign language, cursing, shoving and overall stupidity. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve acted the same way when I’ve stepped on a lego in the dark, or pulled an empty gallon of milk from the fridge, so I’m not really judging.
Then, as I rounded the corner, I watched as in front of a college bookstore, four people of a different race acted in a completely different manner. One held the bookstore door open, while two more carried books, and the fourth held open the trunk of the car. There was no sense of urgency despite the heat, there were no tempers flaring, and there was no inappropriate foolishness. Sadly, I’ve never acted like this as usually when I’m anywhere near a bookstore, I’m pushing people out of the way to get to what I want, then pushing them again to get home and read what I just bought.
I took a deep breath, and made a decision. I identify as a decent human being. I’m a mom who (single or not) really just wants her kids to be able to move into society and provide to others the way they have been provided for. I want people to be kind to one another. I want cupcakes to be eaten, not criticized. I want people – OF ANY RACE – to do a good job. I want to hear laughter and know that it means someone is happy, and when I hear someone crying, I want to console the person who’s soul hurts enough to shed tears.
Ignorant. Naive. Uneducated. Out of touch.
Call me what you will – but consider the fact if that is the route you decide to take, know that it’s one of judgment while mine was one of laughter, goodwill, and comfort. And no matter what race either of us are, the path we take says a lot about our character – which is how I’d rather be judged than that of my skin color.