One of the many things that I love about my church, and believe me, the itemizing would grow to quite a length: cool, goal-minded parishioners; gales of laughter complimentary with every sermon; families of every possible combination in attendance, what I like best: Unity’s talent for making the ordinary, far from ordinary. An enlightened fact I remembered just last Sunday—Fathers Day.
As usual, I arrived with Julia strapped into her stroller, and me power-walk- pushing the contraption to the elevator, through the lobby of Symphony Space, aching to get a dose of Unity of New York’s positive energy, and, lately, serving of the central AC.
Getting both the wee lass, and myself to church—looking good and smelling good—is such an Iron Woman event, I cross the threshold as if my feet were jet propelled.
Midway across the lobby, just beyond of the last of the three ticket windows, the baritone voice of the security guard boomed out behind me.” Happy Father’s Day!” he bellowed. I turned and smiled at him delivering a gentle look that said, “Man, you need a day off. Or at least, at bare minimum, stay out of the sun.”
He offered up one of those sly smiles that I know African-American men of a certain age traffic in; men who probably knew of Selma, Alabama and Sam Cooke., intimately. With a kind of X-ray, grandfatherly stare, his head cocked to one side, to the right, then his cocoa colored hand jutting out in front of his chest, elbow bent slightly as his index finger jabbed the air in my general direction.
“ I see you,” he boasted. “Every Sunday. I see how you come in here. I see that you’re doing this alone. That’s why I said. Happy Fathers Day ’cause I know you’re doing two jobs.”
And just like that I went from mommy in need of spiritual food to mommy in need of a hanky. My vision, wet and wobbly, swim-goggled angled. Just like that a casual acquaintance showed myself to me.
So often single moms don’t see ourselves, because we are busy. Busy sorting socks, making food, making a living, making the morning 9:55 downtown B train, I just hadn’t stopped to think about that angle of things.
Unity Church gives me pause to think. But that day the guard at Unity, the deft-master seer, provided a reflection for me to ponder.
Later, during the service, Rev. Paul asked for “all the dads to stand up.” Brown, pink and yellow men, shiny-bald, pot-bellied, be-speckled and tanned, salt and peppered haired brown-skinned, got to their feet. Each man poked up through the seated crowd like stone pillars. A wave of applause rolled out and over the auditorium. Ushers rushed up and down the aisles to hand each of them, a single red carnation. I recalled hooting like I was at the rodeo. Julia looked up at me, with the puzzled glare of “what the heck happened to my mom?”
“Okay, now all the single mom’s out there, please stand.”
My eyes burned with tears. Again.
“You didn’t know you were doing two jobs?” my boss Phil said, when I related the tale to him, after wishing him a belated Happy Fathers Day, the following day.
“Never really thought about,” I said. “ I was so busy trying to get the title of mother. And, even that, at times it was looking shaky.”
Phil nodded, silently recalling, I could see from the haze on his face, Christmas past circa 2010, when I walked the halls of the office, waiting for word if the little girl I’d adopted in the Ethiopian courts two months earlier, would be taken away before she reached America knowing full well she had already put down stakes in my heart. Phil, from experience and wisdom had helped me walk through the land of international adoption, until I boarded a plane for Ethiopia in February, 2011, to bring my daughter home.
It seems, I believe, most men think women like me move through the world under the odd impression that men are obsolete. With sperm banks and fertility doctors at the ready, the only reason women like me need men for is sex. And according to the July issue of O Magazine, (page 120,lower center of the page, yup, right there ) apparently there are some quite wonderful boudoir aids made by a Swedish company, Lelo, which can be found at http://www.lelo.com/ capable of helping unmarried women, single baby mothers, women in between lovers, women who love women, and what have you, “achieve the same health benefits” on their own as with a partner, after they’ve shut down their BB’s for the night and the tots have been toddled off to bed.
But actually it’s because of the men like my dad, and male teachers I have studied under, and the bosses I’ve written for, men like Neil Leinwohl and Graham Woodall that encouraged me to do more, to be more, to have courage is one of the many reasons why I went out for this life, the life I wanted, without a mate. At the moment.
At one point in my life I wanted nothing more than to be a mom.
Today, I am mom.
And, at times, a dad.
I wear the title proud like a man. But at times, I cry just at the thought of it just like a little girl.