Next month, JT will turn 11. A few months after that I will mark the start to my sixth year as a mama on her own. Five years into my single parenthood experiment, I've learned to cope with the solitary nature of the job. Sometimes, when the time comes to make a decision, I talk it through with friends and family; people who know and love JT and whose judgement I respect. It's an enormous comfort and help for me. That is not to say that I question my own judgment. I don't. But talking through my options is often welcome and I'm incredibly grateful for the people who make that happen for me.
Even so, the fact of another party remains. My ex and I don't have a good relationship with one another and we don't communicate much. We are mutually to blame for that; mostly I work around it. But at times, say when I wonder if my child broke his thumb, I get really frustrated at what I perceive as a lack of support from her end. Instead, I face the prospect of criticism. Last fall, when JT needed emergency dental surgery, she got angry that I hadn't informed her soon enough. Never mind the reality that she's not the daily parent in his life and, as a consequence, didn't factor in to the decision (or, for that matter, the care JT needed in the aftermath)….she certainly felt free to offer her criticism of how I had handled things.
On Friday, as I debated whether or not JT needed an x-ray of his thumb, I was aware of the prospect of her criticism. Always unwelcome and never helpful, it is nonetheless ever-present.
It is easy to dismiss the notion that it takes a village to raise a child. But, in fact, it's easier to raise a child if the village helps. I have the village; I have it in spades. But I also have the village critic. And that's what rankles. I soldier on because that's the only option I have. But as the years pass, as I rapidly approach that point where I've been a parent on my own longer than I was a parent with a partner, I increasingly resent her interference. If she is not here to help --- and she emphatically made sure that she isn't --- than I wish that she'd just get out of my way.