What I Want for Christmas as the Single Mom of a Child With a Disability
Being a stylist by profession for a number of years afforded me the opportunity to have a myriad of conversations with some interesting characters. I’ve listened to shop talk big and small, and engaged in quite a few lively banters myself. I would stand behind my chair and listen to clients give the 411 on whatever life event was happening with them and offer my advice if I had any to give. Often I was a leaning post for their cares and worries, and much obliged to do so. I always prided myself on having a different view on things and being truthful, honest, and unbiased. Well…maybe a little biased. I’m only human.
So this particular day was not unlike many other days when a longtime client and friend asked me for advice on New Year’s Eve activities. Being removed from the salon to become a stay-at-home-mom has had its pros and cons. Mostly pro because I can stem my focus to my daughter and her care, but on a day like today, I sure missed being in the salon to find out about the happenings around town.
“Why is it so expensive to go out on New Year’s Eve? And we don’t even drink!” she asked me.
“I have no idea, but you’d best be ready to shell out a couple hundred dollars.” I replied.
The focus of our talk was centered around the holiday season: travel, families, activities. We had a wonderful discussion about the funny things that happen when families get together. And then there was that question again, only with a twist,
“What do you want for Christmas?”
Without a second thought I replied, “Nothing. As long as my baby is well, I’m good.”
But in all actuality I wasn’t good. I just told a bold-faced lie. I just stood square-toed and told a bold-faced lie to my friend. And I’m usually the truthful and honest and unbiased one. Well…maybe a little biased.
You want to know what I want for Christmas? I want to go on a date.
I want to go on a real date with a real gentleman who brings me flowers in a box. I want to go on a date with a real gentleman who opens my door and is interested in what I have to say. I want to go to a restaurant that requires reservations and a dinner jacket. I want to wear a dress that I have been holding in my closet for just such an occasion. I want to wear those Gucci shoes I have abandoned because at any moment I may have to sprint after my daughter. I want to eat by soft light, sip a bold red, and order from the dessert tray. But most of all I want to go on a date with someone who doesn’t define my daughter by her disability.
In my experience, dating as a single parent of a child with Down syndrome can be a rare though sought-after occurrence. Without a steady sitter it is not unusual that where I go, she goes and having her with me often dictates the venue.
In my early days of being a single parent, I struggled with whether to tell the guy immediately that I had a child with Down syndrome. I hated watching their faces go from interest to pity, and then stop all communication. One guy even told me, “Good luck.” I have come to realize that some people just don’t think they can handle the responsibility of being involved with a parent whose child has a disability. In this instance, I feel it is much better to know where they stand in the beginning than farther down the line. It’s their loss, though. We are people above all else.
I love my daughter and I wish a potential suitor for me would see what I see: a little girl, first. Down syndrome is only a small aspect of who she is. Sadly though, there are many who see the disability… and then her. The disability is not the issue — it’s the attitudes people form around what they think disability is. That doesn’t make it any easier to try to date in an Insta-filter obsessed world that cannot see the beauty in our differences.
So since I have no gentleman, no flowers in a box or reservations at Chet Somewhere, me and my munchkin will make our own dinner dates. Party of Two. Dressed to the nines. Just me and my little one. She’s the best date anyway. And that’s the honest, unbiased truth. Well…maybe a little biased. I’m only human.