Sure, I use it about fifty times a day, but never as a weapon. It’s more of a description, a moniker of devotion to my baby girl. It’s also – to a some extent – a reflex mechanism. Of defence, if you will. It warns any wayward man that I’m probably a bitter feminist, and that should he have the slightest intention of looking my way, he’ll have my angsty baby girl to deal with. I didn’t realise until recently that it’s a way to shun before being shunned. Some people are so afraid of being hurt that they opt out before the choice is even offered. Or as Pyro so eloquently puts it:
Not afraid of commitment, afraid of love.
Not afraid of love, afraid of inadequacy.
Not afraid of inadequacy, afraid of rejection.
But I digress. Because this week, I made the ultimate use of the Single Mother card. See, every year in April, my baby goes on a scouting trip, and her nanny goes to visit her own baby. This year, between election drama and twisted school timetables, the trip was cancelled. My house-help still needed to go see her daughter, so I gave her the week off. I figured the princess would be okay on her own. She has Star TV, YouTube, holiday homework, plentiful playmates, and enough nuke-able food to last three weeks. Plus, she wanted the house to herself. She gets that from me. I figured I could leave the office early (read 5 p.m.) for the week, so I could catch her before bed time.
This magnificent plan fell apart at 6.45 p.m. on Monday evening when my baby called me. I was stuck on a bus, in the rain, cursing the traffic, when I heard her voice. “Mummy, the lights have gone off.” She was trying to be brave, but the quiver in her voice broke my heart. I tried to cheer her up and ordered myself not to cry at the thought of my precious girl, afraid and alone in the dark, and me with no way to get to her. I called her every five minutes of my bus trip, and she said, “I’m fine mummy, don’t worry … but … can the bus move any faster?” Sigh.
I got home two or three hours later to find her asleep, on the sofa, in the dark. Her fear had somehow lulled her into dreams. The next day, despite my qualms and my baby’s protests, I asked my boss to let me work from home this week. I know it looks bad, takes a bite out of the super-woman movement, makes my bosses wonder just how dedicated I am to my career. I know women in the west have it way worse than me – I enjoy my work, I get to wear what I want, and I have an affordable and trustworthy ‘mboch’. I know there may be sniggers and disgruntlement at the office. But my baby comes first. She may be a macho little dragon girl, but I’m not risking being stuck on the highway while my baby cries and quivers in the dark.
♫ Powerless ♫ Linkin Park ♫