Just Right

The Next Family

By: Sheana Ochoa

single mom by choice


I’m glad Noah is a boy.  This is a sexist remark and I admit it.  If we lived in a gynocratic society, I’d wish he were a girl.  As a mother, I just want him to have the smoothest path through this unwieldy road of life.

This morning my fiancé and I had to pay the rent.  I said, “I’ll pay $1000, you pay $995.”  He said, “Let’s do it the other way around.”  I smiled and wrote my check for the lesser amount, because, for whatever reason, he felt better that way.

“When are you going to change your last name?”  He asks me, meaning to his last name once we’re married.

Right now as a single mom I get a lot of advantages, one of which is great health care for Noah through Healthy Families.  If I get married or call attention to the fact that I’m married by changing my name, I could lose that insurance.  Noah recently had a chronic ear-infection.  He had to go under anesthesia and they took out his adenoids and put tubes in his ears.  The whole thing cost five dollars.  If I had to pay for this we wouldn’t be going on a honeymoon and we’d be in debt.

The other day, I had to return to the mechanic because my car was still out of alignment after paying them to fix it.  My fiancé, Jordan, followed me there, as we expected to leave my car.  When we arrived, he waited in his car while I dealt with the mechanic who said he had test-driven the car himself and it was fine and could I have hit a pothole?

Are you seeing the pattern?  Double standards everywhere.

The mechanic condescended to me because I was a woman and I wanted Jordan to come with me to talk to the mechanic because he’s a man.  However, after thinking about it, I would expect anyone to come with me, even if a girlfriend had driven me, because let’s face it, mechanics take advantage of women who (generally) don’t know a lot about cars.  I’d want some back up.

When I got perturbed at Jordan for not instinctively accompanying me, he said he was going to alert the “feminist brigade”, because I was being sexist.  He said I would have to start ironing his shirts, which is a running joke with us.  I don’t iron.  I buy clothes that don’t have to be ironed or I go wrinkled.  So, the joke is that he “got jipped at the Latina store.”

The other day he asked me if I knew how to sew a button and I was actually pleased with myself to answer in the affirmative. I didn’t ask him if he knows how to sew a button and I don’t want to know, because sewing that button made me feel wifely.  Did I just write that? What I liked is he didn’t ask me to sew the button, assuming I knew how.  This is how I want to raise Noah, to not assume the stereotypes.  To not expect his girlfriend or wife to know how to make pasta or change a diaper.

If  you ask me, I would say I’m not a hard-core feminist.  Why?  Because I expect Jordan to open the car door for me.  It makes me feel special.  Does this small act of kindness that makes me feel special perpetuate inequality of gender?  I really doubt it.  But I could be wrong.  The word “feminist” just doesn’t resonate with me because of all the negative connotations that come with that term.  I do believe, and fiercely, in equal rights for EVERYONE.  Still, I prefer Jordan to drive and to take out the trash.  In the same breath, I’ll assemble curtain rods, shelves, hang pictures.

I picked the perfect partner.  He’s not metrosexual, but I wouldn’t call him a man’s man either.  And yet, when Noah screams high-pitched, he has said he shouldn’t scream “like a girl.”  But I’m guilty of the same thing.  When our nanny brought Noah a toy her other client was going to throw out, a pink bus filled with cooking utensils, I said something along the lines of it being a “pussymobile.”  Alas, my generation is still socially ingrained in gender prejudice.  Noah likes the pink bus because it lights up and its door opens and it’s different from his other toys.  Noah screams at scary spiders and dinosaurs because he thinks it’s funny.  At this age, gender socialization hasn’t kicked in yet.  I don’t want it to, but I also don’t know how to keep my fiance’s or my indoctrination from Noah.

Still, I confess, I’m glad I had a boy.  I also want a girl.  In fact it seems to me that I would be more aggressive with a girl when it comes to gender prejudice.  I’d buy her trucks and balls from the get-go, whereas I wouldn’t think of buying Noah a doll. There’s a game Noah and I play.  He gets in the bath and says, “Not too hot.”  Then I say, “Not too cold.” And together we say, “Just right.”  This has evolved into other areas: not too wet, not too dry, just right, etc.   So, I’m aiming to rear a well-balanced boy –not too macho, not too metro.  Just right.  And just to be clear, if he turns out to be gay or bisexual, the previous sentence still applies.  Although I want him to be “just right”, I’d hate for him to be drearily “normal”.

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